Donaldson: We need action in Northern Ireland
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Voters in England, Wales, and Scotland will head to the ballot box on Tuesday, April 5 to pick who they want to run services that affect everyday life in their local area. Meanwhile, those in Northern Ireland will elect a new Government.
For major cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham more than 4,000 councillors spread between 146 councils will be up for election.
In London, votes will also be staged across all 32 boroughs of the capital.
Bins, bus routes and potholes are just some of the things that local councils provide services for.
They also deliver mental health services, determine planning applications and manage schemes to tackle climate change.
A regional mayor will be voted for in South Yorkshire and 1,000 parish councils will also be electing about 10,000 councillors.
Given the scale of elections that will take place across England – including seats that will be contested for the first time – the results are likely to paint the clearest picture of the national mood.
The next general election for the UK is pencilled in for May 2, 2024.
When voters return their ballots at next week’s election for Northern Ireland’s Government it will largely be a contest between the parties in two political divides.
One being unionists, who favour unity with the rest of Britain, and nationalists, who want a united Ireland.
Since 2003, the Democratic Unionist Party has been the largest party in the national assembly, followed by nationalists Sinn Féin.
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The two parties, along with other unionist and nationalist parties, and an increasingly popular third bloc of non-aligned parties, have governed under a mandatory power-sharing agreement that ended decades of fighting.
Indications coming out of Northern Ireland suggest that Sinn Féin could take the lead for the first time.
In the scenario that Sinn Féin becomes the largest party, the DUP has not said whether it would agree to share power.
That means it’s possible that even after the election, the Assembly could remain without a devolved government for at least six months.
Every seat in the 22 local councils across Wales will be challenged, with voters as young as 16 eligible to take part.
Since the last election five years ago the political make-up has been mixed and the majority of councils are currently run by coalitions.
Political analysts will be keeping a close eye on how the Labour Party performs in Cardiff and whether it can keep hold of the Welsh capital.
Meanwhile, in the north east of the country, the Conservatives will be hoping to improve on their previous performance where they made gains last time out.
Across all 32 local authorities, in Scotland, voting is open to anyone who is aged 16 or above.
The last election in 2017 saw the Tories make big gains from Labour, however, they failed to gain overall control and most councils have been run by coalitions ever since.
As ever the largest cities – Glasgow and Edinburgh – are always ones to watch, though this year’s results are also likely to reflect how Scots feel more generally about such issues as recent council tax changes and post-pandemic recovery.
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