Northern Ireland’s Political System

2 Dec

Randall Blake

When we went to Northern Ireland, we had the chance to learn about the political system of Northern Ireland, which, in my opinion, is one of the worst systems. When it was formed in 1998, Northern Ireland was and still is one of the most divided places in the world. This tension would make it difficult to pass laws without displeasing half the people. As a result in the 1998 Belfast Agreement, the Northern Assembly implemented a requirement called cross-community vote or cross-community support. This form of voting creates a minimum level of support from opposing sides. There are a total of 108 seats in the Assembly, and since 1998, unionist parties, those supporting Great Britain, have held between 54 and 59 seats, nationalist parties, supporting the Republic of Ireland have held between 42 and 44 seats, and independents have held between 7 and 10. This diversity creates an almost equal representation of both sides in the government. The difficulty starts with the required votes from each side. In addition to the 60% support from the Assembly as a whole, there is also a 40% minimum vote from each side for a resolution to pass. This makes it incredibly difficult for laws to pass because you need to please both sides with the resolution, and it’s very rare for a resolution to be productive and please both sides. This is the tip of the iceberg of the difficulties of the system, which includes requirements for different parties to hold each of the major seats. I understand that it’s difficult to create a government that doesn’t favor one side, but this government makes it very difficult to get any actual work done.


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