In the run-up to the 1918 election, the British government acted as Sinn Féin’s most effective recruiting sergeant. The Irish public had been alienated by the draconian response to the Easter Rising. The Home Rule negotiations at the Irish Convention were botched. Finally, attempts by Lloyd George to link Home Rule to compulsory conscription contrived to infuriate both Irish nationalists and Unionists for diametrically opposed reasons. Sinn Féin reaped the electoral harvest from this mismanagement. With sentiment already polarized, the introduction of a first-past-the-post system proved a perfect storm for the more moderate Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), which managed only one seat outside Ulster, in Waterford, despite obtaining 22 per cent of the overall popular vote. Sinn Féin, with 47 per cent, benefited from electoral agreements with the IPP to gain 25 seats unopposed, and 70 per cent of all seats. The Irish Unionists won 22 seats, concentrated in Ulster from 25 per cent of the vote.
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