Sinn Fein, an Irish nationalist party, is on course to win the most seats in Northern Ireland in a historic first on Friday evening, according to partial results.
Those results appeared to confirm earlier polls that it would become the largest force in the province’s assembly.
Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Fein’s leader in Northern Ireland, called it a “historic day” and said the party would “work hard for everyone.”
Since the founding of Northern Ireland, the Protestant-majority state has been led by pro-British unionist politicians.
If the results are confirmed, Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the IRA, would receive the post of first minister in Belfast.
The party has been campaigning on economic issues, presenting itself as a progressive force but Sinn Fein also wants Northern Ireland, a British province, to unite with the Republic of Ireland.
As the election results came in the Republic of Ireland leader of Sinn Fein Mary Lou McDonald said that Irish unity was “the best plan, the biggest opportunity for all of us who live on this island.”
McDonald said that the change would need to be democratic and said that she thought two referenda could be possible within five years.