The nationalist party won in Belfast, betting in particular on an anti-Brexit position, but also on social issues.
The news is historic: for the first time in a century, Sinn Féin has beaten the unionist camp (Democratic Unionist Party, DUP) in Northern Ireland. The formation led by Mary Lou McDonald, essentially Catholic and favorable to the reunification of Ireland, will total more deputies in Belfast than the DUP, since it obtained 27 of the 90 seats in the local assembly, against 25 for its opponents .
Sinn Féin’s victory will propel a Republican Prime Minister to the head of the province, Michelle O’Neill. And rewards a campaign where the party prioritized the themes of purchasing power and living conditions in the country, rather than the historic unionist / republican divide, revived by Brexit.
Housing, spearheading social issues
Central point of the speeches on the social questions of the party: housing. Ireland has been suffering from a permanent housing crisis for the past ten years, with prohibitive prices and an insufficient stock. The average age of a first real estate purchase has fallen in the country from 29 to 34 years in the space of fifteen years.
In its alternative budget for this year, Sinn Féin proposed several key measures, such as the outright doubling of the current budget dedicated to housing, from 1.5 to 3 billion euros, and a ban on rent increases for at least less than 3 years, or even a tax credit of 1500 euros for the tenants most in difficulty.
Recently, the party’s spokesman on economic issues, Pearse Doherty, also attacked private investment funds – which currently hold 1 out of 6 rented accommodations – inand in particular an exemption on property income.
The aggressive tax policy
Another salient point of the speech of the Republican party close to the IRA concerns taxation, where it pleads for additional taxation of high incomes. If the Irish parties agree to think that it is necessary to reshape the income tax, too high, Sinn Féin is more offensive on the richest.
Thus appears in its program a 3% tax on households earning more than 140,000 euros per year, ie for those taxable at the highest bracket. Observations estimate that these richest households gave back 40% of their income, compared to 43% for those in the third bracket.
Similarly, Mary Lou McDonald haswishing to replace it with a levy on higher value assets.
Strong on these social themes, Sinn Féin has deactivated the historically structuring debate on the union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. If he is very opposed to Brexit, he has not made it his campaign axis,.
All this, unlike the DUP, very opposed to the border control mechanism which today separates Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom: Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the unionist party, still expressed his disagreement with the process voted during Brexit:
The Protocol in Northern Ireland has created a border in the Irish Sea & poses an existential threat to the future of Northern Ireland’s place within the Union. The longer the protocol remains in force, the more it harms the Union itself.”
Worse, the leader of the DUP weighs the abolition of this mechanism, established to allow not to restore a “hard” border between the two Ireland, to participate in a future government.
The British power, for its part, maintains an ambivalent discourse on the question: the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis, if hecalled on the parties to , while the negotiations promise to be more complex after this vote. The two parties have 24 weeks ahead of them to find a compromise.