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'Kingmakers' and 'political marmite': How the general election is being reported across the world

Sinn Féin’s performance is of particular interest.

THE THREE-WAY tie indicated by yesterday’s general election 2020 exit poll has made headlines internationally as people grapple with what Ireland’s future government might look like.

A glance at the international coverage shows that both the tie and Sinn Féin’s exit poll performance were of particular interest to those outside of Ireland.

Here’s what they’ve been saying so far.

New York Times

PastedImage-43616 Source: New York Times

Over in the US, it was Sinn Féin who captured the New York Times’ attention.

Ed O’Loughlin describes Sinn Féin as “the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army”, saying that SF has “a shot at joining the next coalition” if the exit polls prove accurate.

It also predicts SF could be somewhat of a ‘kingmaker’:

While both Fianna Fail and Mr. Varadkar’s party have vowed not to partner with Sinn Fein given its past support for violence, the center-left party could still emerge as a kingmaker and its ascension signals an appetite for a greater emphasis on social welfare after decades of dominance by the pro-market center-right.

O’Loughlin also points to the recent referendums, saying that Ireland “has been moving in an increasingly liberal direction in recent years”.

The PR-STV system, meanwhile, is called “painstaking”.


PastedImage-93790 Source: BBC

The BBC also focused on the predicted three-way tie.

It goes a bit further to explain PR-STV (in Britain, the first-past-the-post method is used) and explains:

“This means that the picture presented when the first preference votes are counted does not completely reflect the final outcome.”


Its BBC News Ireland correspondent Chris Page writes that one of the major stories of the election campaign “was a surge in support for Sinn Féin in opinion polls”.

Sky News

sky elec Source: Sky News

Never one to play down proceedings, Sky News describes the exit poll as ‘astounding’.

Sky News’ senior Ireland correspondent David Blevins says that it would be an “absolutely astounding result” for the party if it played out.

Its Ireland correspondent Stephen Murphy says that a hung parliament is “an almost certainty”, adding that Leo Varadkar “faces a real battle to remain in office”.

And he echoes the thoughts of many when he says:

A third option – and the one absolutely nobody wants – is another election within a short time frame.


PastedImage-96596 Source: Politico

Politico also focuses on the predicted tie, saying that it “indicates a seismic shift in the Irish electorate”.

It also sheds more light on our voting system, by telling readers:

“But counting is done by hand and is a lengthy process so final seat results may not be decided for several days.”

Tell us about it, Politico.

Al Jazeera

PastedImage-20558 Source: Al Jazeera

Over in Al Jazeera, the focus is on Brexit this time, and Varadkar’s role in it.

However, they also suggest that “some predict [Varadkar] could be on his way” if the exit polls are correct. 

The Guardian

The Guardian news alerted their coverage of the exit poll results, focusing on Sinn Féin’s performance.

The British newspaper says that:

If replicated in actual results it would signal an unprecedented tie among the three parties, leaving it unclear which, if any, could woo smaller parties and independents to form a parliamentary majority and ruling alliance.

It adds:

Sinn Féin’s surge – up from 13.8% in the 2016 general election – reflected the anger of voters, especially among the young, at soaring rents and homelessness.

But it notes that Sinn Féin fielded far too few candidates to “fully translate its surge into extra seats in the new parliament”.

In a piece by its Ireland correspondent, Sinn Féin candidates are described as ‘political marmite’.

A party that thinks long term – its unofficial slogan “tiocfaidh ár lá” means “our day will come” – dares to hope that decades of strategising, organising and building may finally deliver power as it rides a wave of voter frustration over homelessness, soaring rents and hospital waiting lists.

Leo Varadkar, meanwhile, is described as being “possibly in the twilight of his premiership”.

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