Northern Ireland’s two main unionist parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) have undergone divergent fortunes since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA) as the DUP has prospered whilst the UUP has struggled. This article draws upon recent studies of the memberships of both parties to explore their perceptions of the change in respective electoral standings and to examine the extent to which the parties now converge or differ in their membership composition. Examining three aspects in particular–identity, religious make-up and gender balance, we assess whether the two main unionist parties are largely similar or if significant intra-unionist differences are evident.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The DUP membership survey was carried out between 2012 and 2014, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, RPG-2012-4033. The UUP membership survey was carried out between 2016 and 2019, part-funded by the British Academy. The methodology for the two studies involved a questionnaire sent to 75% of DUP members (randomly selected) eliciting a 52% response rate and 100% of UUP members, generating a 49% response rate. The quantitative data was complemented by 133 interviews with past or presented elected representatives and 9 focus groups of ordinary members across the two parties. The n used in tables is 474 for the DUP and 909 for the UUP.
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- Northern Ireland
- Political Parties
- unionist parties