Europe

Northern Ireland voters put power-sharing to renewed test

  • A man walks past a republican mural on the Falls road in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. Voting is due to begin on Thursday in Northern Ireland after power sharing collapsed following the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    A man walks past a republican mural on the Falls road in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. Voting is due to begin on Thursday in Northern Ireland after power sharing collapsed following the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sinn Fein party leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill the Chulturlann centre in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. Voting is due to begin on Thursday in Northern Ireland after power sharing collapsed following the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    Sinn Fein party leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill the Chulturlann centre in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. Voting is due to begin on Thursday in Northern Ireland after power sharing collapsed following the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)  (The Associated Press)

  • A man walks past Sinn Fein election posters in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. Voting is due to begin on Thursday in Northern Ireland after power sharing collapsed following the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    A man walks past Sinn Fein election posters in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. Voting is due to begin on Thursday in Northern Ireland after power sharing collapsed following the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)  (The Associated Press)

Northern Ireland's voters are deciding who should lead them, an election overshadowed by acrimony between the dominant Irish Catholic and British Protestant parties.

Thursday's elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly will determine which parties on each side of the community divide are eligible to form a unity government, the central goal of the region's 1998 peace accord.

Resurrecting any coalition could prove difficult. Leaders of the major Catholic-backed party, Sinn Fein, collapsed the previous assembly in February in a showdown with their erstwhile government partners, the Protestants of the Democratic Unionist Party.

A total of 228 candidates are contesting 90 legislative seats. Polls suggest Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists will retain top positions. Full results are expected Saturday. Weeks of negotiations to restore power-sharing would follow.