Assembly Pick: What happens if Alianza finishes in second place?

With the Alliance Party finishing neck-and-neck with the DUP in a recent poll, it raises more questions about who might be sitting around the table of a new Executive.

The Institute of Irish Studies/University of Liverpool/Irish News poll again ranked Sinn Fein as the largest party with a 26.6% share of the first preference vote, while the Alliance and DUP were predicted with 18. ,two %.

Many voters might assume that if the Alliance pulls off a shock result and finishes second, party leader Naomi Long may become the next deputy prime minister.

But this is politics in Northern Ireland, where things are never as simple as they seem.

The rules are laid out in the 2006 San Andres Agreement, but can be read more like a puzzle than a set of instructions to casual observers.

As explained on the Factcheckni website, the Prime Minister is normally appointed from the largest party in the largest designation (Unionist, Nationalist or other).

Similarly, the Deputy Prime Minister has always been appointed by the largest party in the second largest appointment.

However, after the San Andres Agreement, a new rule was introduced: that the largest party in general could nominate a Prime Minister, even if he was not part of the largest appointment.

In such a scenario, the largest party within the largest nomination would then nominate the Deputy Prime Minister.

So, in theory, the Alliance Party, which is designated as ‘other’, could nominate a Prime Minister in the unlikely event that it ends up as the largest party.

But if you finish second, you can’t nominate a deputy prime minister if you stick to their designation, as trade unionism or nationalism is very likely to be the largest designation and therefore the largest party in that section. you will get the job. .

Commenting on the latest poll results, a spokesman for the Alliance said the party would seek to reform the appointment system rather than change its political stance.

“Alliance knows that the only poll that matters is on Election Day. Regardless of the outcome, we support the Good Friday Agreement and stand behind its underlying principles,” they said.

“However, we have always supported reform of the structures and, in light of recent and possible future developments, that case is stronger than ever.

“Our political institutions need a transformation: the people of Northern Ireland deserve better, with a government that reflects our changing society and encourages cooperation rather than entrenching division.”

Political commentator David McCann told the Belfast Telegraph that a second place finish for the Alliance would still have huge implications.

“Alianza coming in second and not being in line for MP FM is going to cause a lot of its voters to scratch their heads. One would expect the second largest party to get the job, as has been the case since 1998. But our The appointment system is what stands in that way. This system not only drives the Alliance crazy when it comes to votes in the chamber, it also prevents it from taking on some executive positions.

“Politically, the potential for Alliance in second place would be huge, not just because it’s a good election story, but because of the long-term consequences,” he said.

“This could potentially lead to changing our appointment system and rethinking how executives are trained in the future. Our focus has been on the historical nature of Sinn Fein potentially becoming the biggest party, but the rise of the Alliance could be the dormant issue that we’re not paying enough attention to.”

Other executive positions are allocated to political parties through the d’Hondt system, except for the Minister of Justice, which is allocated through an intercommunity vote.

This role has traditionally been filled by the Alliance Party, but has also previously been filled by independent trade unionist Claire Sugden.

If Alliance finishes in second place, it’s not unreasonable to hope that he can claim another Executive Ministry.

The DUP has consistently said it will not enter the Executive unless there is substantial reform of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie have also refused to say to date whether they would consider appointing a deputy prime minister if Sinn Fein becomes the largest party as expected.

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