Northern Ireland’s Electoral Office has said that the turnout in Thursday’s assembly election was higher than in last May’s contest when 55% of voters took part. The Stormont assembly collapsed in acrimony earlier this year over a botched green energy scheme that cost taxpayers half a billion pounds. The turnout increase at the second election in 10 months may be in response to voter anger at the way the largest political party in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionists (DUP), mismanaged and then stubbornly defended the renewable health incentive scheme.
The first minister, Arlene Foster of the DUP, refused to stand down temporarily from her post to allow for a public inquiry to be held into the scheme. Martin McGuinness, the ailing Sinn Féin deputy first minister, resigned in January from his post, triggering the snap election. Under power sharing, any cross community coalition falls if one of the leading representatives of either unionists or nationalists resigns from the government in Belfast.