Ethnic outbidding and party modernization: Understanding the Democratic Unionist Party’s electoral success in the post-Agreement environment

Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Roger Mac Ginty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article considers the phenomena of intra-group ethnic outbidding and party political modernization during peacemaking processes in civil war situations. At first glance, ethnic outbidding may seem unconnected with 'modern' political parties that function—as their modernity suggests—without recourse to ethnic exclusivity. This article makes the case that the two processes can operate in tandem. It begins by presenting an original conceptualization of outbidding processes by examining both the strategies employed by out-bidders and the potential impacts of outbidding on peacemaking processes. It then turns to consider political party modernization theory, which suggests that parties must abandon the appeals to confessionalism and ethnic particularism (usually displayed among intra-group outbidders) as part of the modernization process. As the example of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in post Agreement Northern Ireland illustrates however, the ability of political parties in peacemaking processes to mix traditional appeals with decidedly modern discourse and campaigning tools undermines this presumed incompatibility between particularlism and modernization within political parties. Instead we find that party modernization and ethnic outbidding can co-exist in the context of a peacemaking process. Moreover, we find that the nuances of outbidding mean that hard-line positions can be maintained on identity and constitutional issues but moderation can occur on other issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-61
JournalEthnopolitics
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008

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