The country should have a new government by Friday at the latest, but has been in a political impasse since February. This is due to disagreements over Brexit agreements.
The reason for the political crisis is that the country’s second party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), is obstructing the formation of a new government. The Northern Irish Government must consist of both unionists and Republicans.
But the DUP refuses to put ministers forward. The party is doing so in protest against trade deals made over Northern Ireland following the UK’s departure from the European Union. According to the DUP, these agreements weaken the current status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.
The elections ended in May. Since then, the DUP has not cooperated with Republican election winner Sinn Féin. On Thursday, the DUP refused to elect a new president at an emergency meeting of Parliament. This is an important step towards forming a new government.
Chances of a new election in december
Under Northern Ireland law, a new government must be formed within a maximum of 24 weeks of the election. That period ends on the night of Thursday to Friday at 1.00 am (Dutch time).
The chances of a new election are enormous. Insiders are already aware that new elections will be held in mid-December.
The British government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has not yet given up. “There is still time,” said a Sunak spokesman. “Engage with each other, because the people of Northern Ireland deserve a fully functioning and locally elected government that can address issues.”