Sinn Féin extends polling lead over DUP before potentially historic Northern Ireland election
Sinn Féin has extended its polling lead over DUP before what could potentially be a historic election to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
According to the latest poll by the Institute of Irish Studies-University of Liverpool/The Irish News, the DUP sit six percentage points behind its rival and is now neck-and-neck with the liberal and centrist Alliance on 18.2 per cent.
While a 26.6% result would constitute a 1% dip in Sinn Féin support since the last Assembly election in 2017, the unionist DUP’s support has tanked 10% in the same period.
It leaves Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill as clear favourite to be the new first minister, but could cause an extended political crisis if the DUP come second but refuse to take up the post of deputy first minister.
Alliance, which aims to bridge the political divides between Irish and British nationalism, has enjoyed a surge in support over the past month and could emerge as the second-largest party.
Professor Peter Shirlow of the Institute of Irish Studies-University of Liverpool told the Irish News that Sinn Féin were on course to top the poll.
“On Thursday we will see people elected by the slimmest of margins and for Sinn Féin and the DUP a potential challenge from Alliance, Greens, People Before Profit and independents, who may perform much better than previously,” he said.
“In fact, if these parties can get close to 20 per cent of the overall vote then we are entering a new period in which constitutional-led politics is less attractive. If that is the case then the story of this election is the step away to parties which two decades ago could hardly must one-in-10 voters.”
The poll was based on the responses of 1,270 people surveyed between April 16-26.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.