NORTHERN IRELAND parties clashed in a special BBC election debate held earlier this week – but with 18 seats up for grabs, who will win the election in NI?
Voters will hit the polls on Thursday to choose who they wish to represent them in Westminster in the 18 Northern Ireland seats. The key issues for the electorate in Northern Ireland are Brexit, healthcare and the collapse of the assembly. No UK-wide party has ever won a seat in Northern Ireland, so which party is predicted to win Northern Ireland on Thursday?
The parties elected to represent Northern Ireland are very different to the rest of the UK.
This is because the big UK parties do not stand in Northern Ireland.
No UK-wide political party has ever won a seat in Northern Ireland, although Ulster Unionist Party’s MPs took the Conservative Party whip until 1972.
So which party is predicted to win the most seats on December 12?
In the 2017 general election, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SLDP) lost all three of its Westminster seats to Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The DUP also won South Antrim from the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).
Independent Lady Sylvia Hermon was also re-elected to represent North Down.
Overall, the results in 2017 were as follows:
- DUP: 10 seats
- Sinn Fein: seven seats
- Independent: one seat
The DUP won 36 percent of the vote share, with Sinn Fein winning 29.4 percent.
The SDLP meanwhile won 11.7 percent of the vote share and the UUP won 10.3 percent of the vote share.
On Tuesday the five main Stormont parties participated in a BBC election debate.
Sinn Féin’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill came under fire for her party’s policy of abstentionism.
She said she believed Irish interests would never be served in Westminster and “one or two Irish MPs will never make a difference”.
She said: “I have defended the Good Friday Agreement, the all island economy and made sure there was no hard border on this island because we used our influence where it mattered.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood argued that Sinn Féin want to “stand outside looking in the window”.
He said: “I will go and take my seat if elected to try and stop Brexit, and to try and stop austerity that has been imposed on people here, that has been happening for far too long.”
The UUP leader Steve Aiken said Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal would damage the country and make Northern Ireland a “place apart”.
He said: “There is nothing about Boris Johnson’s deal that is good.
“It’s not good for our economy, it’s not good for the future of Northern Ireland and that’s why we need to stop Boris Johnson’s deal.”
The DUP’s Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said there has been poor negotiation on behalf of the UK government. He said Mr Johnson’s deal was and is “flawed”.
“That’s why we used our 10 votes in the House of Commons to block the deal. The DUP was absolutely crucial when it came to Brexit,” he said.
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said she wanted decisions to be taken by local ministers and warned January 13 was deadline to see devolution restored.
She said: “I believe that local politicians are the best people to take those decisions.”
According to predictions by betting website oddschecker, the results on December 12 for Northern Ireland will be as follows:
- DUP: nine seats
- Sinn Fein: seven seats
- SDLP: two seats
The forecasted results for each constituency is as follows:
- Belfast East
- East Antrim
- East Londonderry
- Lagan Valley
- North Antrim
- North Down
- South Antrim
- Upper Bann
- Belfast North
- Belfast West
- Fermanagh and South Tyrone
- Mid Ulster
- Newry and Armagh
- South Down
- West Tyrone
- Belfast South