Turnout up in fractious Northern Ireland election

The first results were expected later Friday in a vote that could result in the province fully governed from London unless the two main parties can break the deadlock between them.

Turnout up in fractious Northern Ireland election

World Bulletin / News Desk

Counting was under way in Northern Ireland on Friday after a snap election that energised voters but is unlikely to resolve the bad blood across the province's historic divide.

Turnout figures from Thursday's polls showed the election got voters motivated. The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland said 812,783 votes were cast, meaning a 64.8 percent turnout -- up 9.9 percent from the May 2016 elections.

It is the highest turnout since the first election after 1998 peace accords that re-established devolution in Northern Ireland.

The election was called in January when Sinn Fein -- once the political arm of the Irish Republican Army paramilitary group -- brought down the province's semi-autonomous government to protest the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the pro-British party with which it shares power.

That triggered fresh elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, a legislature in Belfast in which representatives of once-warring communities have shared power on and off since the 1998 peace deal.

The Protestant, conservative DUP won the most seats in last year's elections ahead of the Catholic, socialist and Irish republican Sinn Fein in last year's election, giving the DUP the right to chose their leader Arlene Foster as the province's first minister.

A similar result is forecast this time around, but Sinn Fein have said they will not work with the DUP if Foster is re-nominated.

Full results are not expected until Saturday at the earliest, due to the complexities of the single transferable vote proportional representation electoral system.

Some 228 candidates are standing to fill 90 seats.

If the two parties cannot resolve their differences within three weeks of the vote, the assembly's executive could be suspended and the province fully governed from London.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Mart 2017, 17:49