Northern Ireland Assembly election results: The maps and charts that explain how Sinn Féin closed the gap on the DUP

Ashley Kirk

The DUP has won the Northern Ireland Assembly election by securing 28 seats in Thursday's vote, but Sinn Féin has closed the gap and ended up securing 27 seats - just one short of the biggest party.

As expected, the two dominant parties of unionism and nationalism - the DUP and Sinn Féin - retained their seat at the table of government.

The election was triggered because of the collapse of the Assembly's power-sharing agreement, following Sinn Féin's refusal to respond to calls to replace Martin McGuinness as leader and deputy First Minister

Arlene Foster, the DUP First Minister, had previously rejected calls to step down while a probe into the Government's handling of a botched renewable energy scheme takes place.

Following the collapse of the power-sharing government, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire announced a Stormont Assembly election will take place.

Northern Ireland election

Northern Ireland Assembly election results

Despite winning the election, the DUP has been reduced to 28 seats in the Assembly - 10 seats less than its previous amount.

While being the largest party in the last election, winning 38 seats just 10 month earlier, the unionist party lost seats in areas such as East Antrim, Lagan Valley and Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Sinn Féin, the UUP and the SDLP were the parties to capitalise on such losses.

Northern Ireland Assembly Results 2017: Seats

Sinn Féin was the second largest party, with 28 seats at the Assembly after winning 24 per cent of the vote. After this election, the party had 27 seats.

It's important to note that the Assembly is now 18 seats smaller, so new party leader Michelle O'Neill will be pleased with the party's performance - even though it is one seat lower than the previous amount.

While holding onto its strongholds, the nationalist party also managed to claim Fermanagh and South Tyrone from DUP and SDLP, helping to bolster their performance.

Northern Ireland Assembly Results 2017: 1st Preference Vote Share

While the two main parties refused to remove their claim on the lion's share of the seats at the Assembly, smaller parties such as UUP and Alliance increased their vote share along with Sinn Féin.

What next after the election?

The Northern Irish people have returned the DUP and Sinn Féin as the Assembly's two largest parties, forcing the two main parties of unionism and nationalism to return to power sharing. 

But the disputes that caused the government to collapse haven't gone away, and a bitter election campaign won't help the chances of such a deal working.

The new Assembly will need a meet within one week of the election. A further two weeks on from that, an executive has to be in place - with first and deputy first ministers nominated,

If the leading parties decline to do so within the timeframe, UK laws states that Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Brokenshire would have to call another election. This would be an extreme step to take, with the suspension of devolution and a return to direct rule a possibility.

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