Eamonn De Valera was a commander in the Easter Rising, narrowly escaping execution. Sentenced instead to life imprisonment, he was abruptly released by amnesty in 1917, and, as a rare surviving rebel leader, was promptly elected leader of Sinn Féin, now the political vehicle of the rebel cause. The 1918 general election produced seismic change in Ireland. Irish sentiment in respect of Home Rule had been tempered by the collective war effort. But the brutality of the treatment of the Easter rebels inspired widespread revulsion, radicalizing public opinion against the British Crown. This, together with the introduction of first-past-the-post balloting and an expanded franchise saw Sinn Féin capture 73 of 105 Irish seats (from 6); the moderate Irish Parliamentary Party correspondingly collapsed from 74 to 6 seats. With the Ulster Unionists increasing from 17 to 22 seats, the stage was set for the Irish Free State and acrimonious partition.
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