Sinn Fein is on track to be the largest party in Northern Ireland, a new opinion poll shows.
Sinn Fein secured 21 percent of the backing with the DUP, currently the largest unionist party, getting 18 percent, the Ulster Unionists 15 percent, the other nationalist party the SDLP getting 13 percent and Alliance, the non-sectarian party at 7 percent.
If the result were duplicated in an Assembly election, still a year away, Sinn Fein would have the right to elect the First Minister – a bombshell result.
Among Catholics, 46 percent supported Sinn Fein, while 27 percent supported the SDLP. Among Protestants 33 percent favored the DUP, while 27 percent supported the Ulster Unionist Party.
If Sinn Fein were ever to become the largest party it is uncertain how unionism would react. The Conservative party in Britain, which skews heavily Unionist, held a secret meeting with the two Unionist parties to discuss such a scenario and suggest a combined unionist approach to the elections.