Polling stations for local elections in Northern Ireland open
The olling stations will open later when voting begins in Northern Ireland’s local elections.
Voters will elect 462 councilors across Northern Ireland’s 11 councils.
The polling stations are open on Thursday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
It is the first electoral test for the parties since last year’s general election and comes amid the ongoing stalemate in Stormont as power-sharing institutions are not operating as part of a DUP protest against post-Brexit trade deals.
Due to the king’s coronation on May 6, the election was postponed by two weeks.
It was a low-key election campaign, largely overshadowed by US President Joe Biden’s visit to Northern Ireland, commemorations of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and the coronation.
The 11 local councils are responsible for a range of services including waste collection, street cleaning, local planning, recreational services and parks.
However, the election could be seen as a measure of public opinion on larger political issues such as the ongoing suspension of power-sharing and a budget crisis facing Stormont departments.
Sinn Fein, which currently has 105 councillors, hopes to emulate the result of last May’s general election and become the largest party.
The Republican Party is fielding 162 candidates and expects it could make gains in areas where it previously had no elected representative.
The DUP is currently the largest party in local government, with 122 councillors.
The trade union party is nominating 152 candidates this time.
Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has promised his party will stand firm if it returns to Stormont until political and trade concerns over the Windsor framework are resolved.
The cross-community alliance party made its biggest gains in last year’s general election and hopes to expand its current 53 councillors.
The alliance puts up 110 candidates in the 11 municipal districts.
The Ulster Unionist Party has 101 candidates.
It suffered losses in both the last parliamentary and local elections.
It currently has 75 councilors.
The nationalist SDLP also suffered a loss of votes in the recent elections.
It currently has 59 councilors and is running 86 candidates this time.
TÜV has 46 candidates, Greens have 37, Aontu has 19 and People Before Profit has 16.
A number of smaller parties and independent candidates will also take part in the election.
Belfast City Council is the largest local government body in Northern Ireland, with 60 elected councillors.
Neither party has overall control, but Sinn Féin is currently the largest party in Belfast City Hall.
Voters were reminded to bring photo ID to the polling station in order to cast their ballot.
The elections use the single transferrable vote system, in which voters rank candidates in order of preference.
The count at 11 locations begins Friday morning and is expected to continue through Saturday.
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/northern-ireland-sinn-fein-polls-stormont-joe-biden-b1081940.html Polling stations for local elections in Northern Ireland open