Democratic Unionists, Sinn Fein winners in N. Ireland elections


March 10, 2007|By Chicago Tribune

LONDON -- The Rev. Ian Paisley's hard-line Protestant unionist party and its bitter rival, Sinn Fein, the Catholic nationalist party headed by Gerry Adams, were the big winners in the Northern Ireland assembly elections, with both parties picking up seats at the expense of more moderate rivals, according to official results announced yesterday.

The outcome sets the stage for a groundbreaking power-sharing agreement that will force the two longtime antagonists to either form a government together or forfeit self-rule to London.

Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party will control 36 seats in the 108-seat Stormont Assembly, a gain of six seats over its 2003 total. Sinn Fein finished second with 28 seats, picking up four more.

The main loser was the moderate Ulster Unionist Party, which lost nine seats, to a total of 18. The Social Democratic and Labor Party, a predominantly Catholic party, fell to 16, losing two seats.

Paisley is in line to become first minister of the Stormont executive.

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