Northern Ireland Voters Put Power-Sharing to Renewed Test

DUBLIN (AP) — Northern Ireland’s voters are deciding who should lead them, an election overshadowed by acrimony between the dominant Irish Catholic and British Protestant parties.

Thursday’s elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly will determine which parties on each side of the community divide are eligible to form a unity government, the central goal of the region’s 1998 peace accord.

Resurrecting any coalition could prove difficult. Leaders of the major Catholic-backed party, Sinn Fein, collapsed the previous assembly in February in a showdown with their erstwhile government partners, the Protestants of the Democratic Unionist Party.

A total of 228 candidates are contesting 90 legislative seats. Polls suggest Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists will retain top positions. Full results are expected Saturday. Weeks of negotiations to restore power-sharing would follow.


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