Why are there going to be elections in Northern Ireland?

  • 17 January 2017
Stormont Image copyright PA
Image caption Stormont the home of the Northern Ireland government.

There are going to be elections in Northern Ireland after arguments between the two biggest political parties in the country.

The election will take place on 2 March 2017.

In Northern Ireland the government must be shared between two different political parties.

The First Minister and Deputy First Minister lead the government - although they have different job titles, they basically have the same powers and must work together.

Up until now the government has been run by the DUP - or Democratic Unionist Party - and Sinn Féin.

The argument between the parties is about whether the First Minister - and leader of the DUP - Arlene Foster ran things badly or not.

The Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, from Sinn Féin, says she did and he left his job because of this disagreement.

Image caption Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness, before it all went wrong

His party refused to appoint anyone else to the job and that means new elections have to take place.

So what happens next?

The last Northern Ireland Assembly election was in May 2016 - the DUP and Sinn Féin got lots more votes than the other parties.

After the new election, the parties will have talk to each other again and try to work out how they will share power in the future.

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