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No guarantee of power in Republic of Ireland for Sinn Fein's 'coalition'

Kevin Cunningham


Support has increased - but comes from very different people

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Support: Mary Lou McDonald’s Sinn Fein party are the most popular in the Republic

Support: Mary Lou McDonald’s Sinn Fein party are the most popular in the Republic

Support: Mary Lou McDonald’s Sinn Fein party are the most popular in the Republic

One year since what was described as an 'earthquake' election in the Republic of Ireland, Sinn Fein remain the most popular party. How and why this has happened is commonly misunderstood as being a result of young voters uninitiated with the atrocities of the Troubles. However, what the RTE/Irish Times exit poll revealed last year was that the party was the most popular even among those aged 55-64.

So what happened? How did Sinn Fein emerge as a prominent force and the most popular party south of the border?

The answer has two parts to it. The first relates to demographic changes that opened up the country to the rise of left-wing political parties. For many decades the south was sui generis in the context of European democracies due to the comparative lack of support for left and centre-left political parties.


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