Front and centre? Northern Irish electoral behaviour in the age of Brexit

Noam Peterburg*, Odelia Oshri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In post-conflict societies, traumatic experiences can have a profound effect on electoral behaviour. In Northern Ireland, Westminster elections between 2001 and 2017 were marked by the rise of hardline parties, but the 2019 election saw a significant shift towards the centre. The centre ground vote soared, resulting in the lowest level of political polarisation since the early 2000s. What are the factors underlying this transition to a moderate vote? Drawing on public opinion surveys and electoral data, we find that Brexit played a crucial role in incentivising voters to support parties prioritising non-sectarian constitutional interests. The findings suggest that voters employ party competition as a balancing mechanism. Our article contributes to the understanding of how individuals in post-conflict societies navigate the complex relationship between violence, politics, and peacebuilding.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)79-98
Number of pages20
JournalIrish Political Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Political Studies Association of Ireland.


  • Brexit
  • Northern Ireland
  • centrism
  • voter behaviour


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