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.
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© 2023 Political Studies Association of Ireland.
- Northern Ireland
- voter behaviour