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After the election Sinn Fein may pressure Arlene Foster to step aside as First Minister. Image: DUP Photos.

As the results of the NI Assembly election filter through, it is becoming clear that the election has been a success for Sinn Fein, who have taken 27.9% of the first preference vote – 3.9% up from last year, and just behind the DUP on 28.1%.

The turnout in this year’s election has risen to 64.78%, ten points higher than last year and in some constituencies rising as much as 13%, apparently driving Sinn Fein’s improved result. This is the highest turnout for an Assembly election since 2003.

The election has seen prominent DUP figures, such as former ministers Nelson McCausland and Maurice Morrow, lose their seats, and it is looking increasingly unlikely that the DUP will reach the 30 seats required to successfully lodge a Petition of Concern.

The UUP and SDLP are also set to lose seats, and Mike Nesbitt has announced his resignation as Ulster Unionist leader.

The Alliance Party have increased their voteshare in this election and are likely to return their 8 MLAs, while People Before Profit, the Green Party and the TUV will all be represented in the Assembly.

The count in South Belfast is ongoing and suggesting a knife-edge result between the DUP and the Green Party’s Clare Bailey. Bailey’s team were optimistic on Twitter as the count continues.

After the election, Arlene Foster may be pressured to step aside as DUP leader as a prerequisite for forming a government with Sinn Fein. DUP MP Gregory Campbell has indicated they are unwilling to return NI to direct rule, though Foster herself has says she will not resign. The question following the election will be whether Sinn Fein will pressure the DUP into selecting a new First Minister, and if so, who that will be.

Ashley Jones

About Ashley Jones

Ashley Jones is a student activist and writer based in Belfast, particularly interested in secondary school education and queer recognition. She is currently Chair of Young Greens Northern Ireland.