The local government elections have seen votes cast by the political elite of Northern Ireland.
In Northern Ireland’s 11 councils, voters will choose 462 council members.
The powersharing institutions are not functioning as part of a DUP protest against post-Brexit trading agreements, and it is the parties’ first electoral test since the Assembly elections last year. The poll is also taking place against the backdrop of the ongoing Stormont impasse.
Michelle O’Neill, vice president of Sinn Fein, cast her ballot at St. Patrick’s primary school in her native Clonoe, County Tyrone, and was one among many who voted early.
After casting her vote, Ms. O’Neill chatted with a few local candidates from her party.
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long cast her ballot in east Belfast.
Leaders of the SDLP Colum Eastwood and the Ulster Unionists, Doug Beattie and Colum Eastwood, respectively, cast their ballots in Craigavon and Londonderry, respectively.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the head of the DUP, is anticipated to cast a ballot in Co Down later today.
Count centers reported early anecdotal evidence of a slow but continuous influx of voters despite a dry and sunny start to the day.
Mr. Beattie stated that he anticipated a higher voter turnout later in the day when workers had left for the day.
Due to the King’s coronation on May 6, the election was delayed by two weeks.
The election campaign has been low-key, primarily overshadowed by US Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Northern Ireland, celebrations of the Good Friday Agreement’s 25th anniversary, and the coronation.
A multitude of services, including as rubbish collection, street cleaning, local planning, leisure services, and parks, are handled by the 11 local councils.
Election results, nevertheless, can be interpreted as a reflection of popular sentiment on more important political concerns, like the continuing suspension of powersharing and the budget crisis affecting Stormont agencies.
Sinn Fein, which has 105 councillors as of right now, wants to repeat the success of the Assembly election from last May and become the dominant force.
With 162 candidates on the ballot, the republican party expects to gain ground in places where it has never before had an elected representative.
With 122 councillors, the DUP is currently the largest party in local government.
This time around, the unionist party is running 152 candidates.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the party’s leader, has promised that unless political and commercial concerns regarding the Windsor Framework are resolved, his party will oppose any return to Stormont.
The cross-community Alliance Party, which presently has 53 councilors, earned the most gains in the Assembly elections last year.
110 individuals are competing for the Alliance in the 11 council districts.
There are 101 candidates running for the Ulster Unionist Party. Both the most recent elections for the Assembly and the local government were losses for it. There are presently 75 council members.
Similar voting restrictions have been placed on the nationalist SDLP in subsequent elections. It is running 86 candidates for its 59 council seats.
There are 46 candidates running for the TUV, 37 for the Green Party, 19 for Aontu, and 16 for People Before Profit.
The election will also feature a number of smaller parties and independent candidates.
With 60 members up for election, Belfast City Council is the largest local government area in Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein is presently the dominant party in Belfast City Hall, but no party has overall power.
Voters have been reminded that they must present a form of photographic identification in order to cast their ballots.