On Thursday, local and regional elections will be held around the UK.
In England, 144 out of 333 so-called councils are voted on, with a total of 4,411 council seats at stake.
In Scotland and Wales, all local governments vote (32 and 22 respectively).
In Northern Ireland, all 90 seats in the Stormont Regional Parliament will be appointed.
Source: Politico Europe.
Today’s British voting is primarily at the local level.
In England, new leaders are to be appointed in about a third of all “councils” in the country – roughly equivalent to the Swedish municipalities. In Wales and Scotland, votes are cast in all councils, while Northern Ireland holds elections to its regional parliament, commonly known as Stormont, according to its location in eastern Belfast.
And there is a real change waiting.
– There will be a huge difference if a nationalist becomes prime minister, says Deidre Hennan, professor at Ulster University, to the news agency AFP.
For the first time, the Republican Nationalist Party Sinn Féin can – and is expected to – become the largest in the region.
The Irish News newspaper refers to opinion polls that give the party 26.6 percent support, against 18.2 for the DUP, the dominant unionist party in recent years. The DUP also risks not even being the second largest, as in the poll it is on an equal footing with the steadily growing Alliance party – a party that tries to remain neutral in the constant struggle between Irish-aspiring nationalists and London-friendly unionists.
Much is explained by the chaos that has characterized the regional government in recent years. Northern Ireland is to be governed by a coalition government, in accordance with the peace agreement that in 1998 put an end to the worst years of unrest in the region. However, the joint government has squeaked a lot, with defections in various rounds. The DUP’s hard line does not seem to go home with the voters.
– They would rather look at those of us who can work together, rather than those who do not want it, says Sinn Féin’s deputy party leader Michelle O’Neill according to AFP.
A major role is played by Brexit. The DUP strongly disapproves of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol with special rules for trade that followed the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU.
Party leader Jeffrey Donaldson wants to drop the protocol and has already warned that forming a government will be difficult if you do not get what you want. At the same time, they are hoping for support from London, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government do not like the protocol either – even though they approved it during the negotiations with the EU.
Johnson generally has a tough election day to look forward to. In the local elections in England, the party is expected to lose significantly to the Social Democratic Labor and the Liberal Democrats, partly as a result of dissatisfaction with Johnson’s way of handling the corona pandemic.
In Scotland, moreover, the Conservative Party is only expected to become the third largest, behind Labor and the superior nationalist party SNP.