Many partisan views have been expressed about the results of last week’s regional elections in Northern Ireland. And mostly by UK commentators or UK supporters (including the usual suspects here) attacking and downplaying the vote for Sinn Féin and/or northern nationalist parties in general while defending and hailing the Unionist vote. Democratic and/or unionist parties in general. Yet for all the obfuscation, it is clear that there is more than mere symbolism to the possibility of a member of what was once a minority community in the north-east of the country leading their regional government, with the likelihood that Michelle O ‘Neill of SF being elected as the new Prime Minister. If the DUP agrees.
Indeed, the Six County electoral landscape has now split into three somewhat fluid constitutional blocs: pro-union, pro-unity and pro-neutral. This division is even more marked in the percentages of the polls, with an approximate result of 42.0% to 42.1% in favor of the union, 41.6% to 41.7% in favor of the unit and 16, 2% to 16.3% in favor of neutrality on first-choice votes (depending on how they are counted). them). In all likelihood, the gap between pro-union and pro-unity voters in the North is around 5,000 votes. Which is astounding for a territory that, as the BBC noted to its viewers in Britain, was purposely cut off by the UK from the rest of the island to create a military-political redoubt with a built-in and supposedly perpetual unionist majority.
Except, as we now know, the Northern Pale no longer exists, and the Unionist and Nationalist communities, broadly defined, are now effectively equal in number and influence.
But what about the pro-neutral bloc, the constitutionally ambiguous collective of voters who support the Alianza Party, the Green Party and others? Even here, the triad of national preferences is visible, with a poll by Lucid Talk indicating that Alliance voters, for example, split 31% in favor of union, 33% in favor of unity and 36% unsure, but likely to vote when a referendum is held on final partition.
It seems that the don’t ask/don’t tell block is leaning slightly more towards the unity argument than the unity argument. And with significant numbers of second-choice votes floating between SF and AP supporters in recent elections, the foundations for a future “Yes” campaign look not only deep, but also widening.