Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The DUP is Northern Ireland’s dominant unionist party.

The party emerged from non-conformist Protestantism in the early 1970s, as The Troubles were starting. For most of its history it has been led by Reverend Iain Paisley who founded the radical Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.

The party is perhaps the most socially conservative in the entire United Kingdom, with some DUP representatives supporting intelligent design, for instance. The party holds fairly anti-gay rights views. The party’s leader, Peter Robinson, described homosexuality as an ‘abomination’ as recently as 2008. Nonetheless the party has become a pragmatic party of power and now serves as the lead party in the Northern Irish assembly, forming a coalition with its former nemesis, Sinn Fein.

Under Robinson, the party has substantially moderated. Nonetheless it retains a powerful Christian right base, and a hard-line unionist message.

The DUP is likely to do well this year.

The DUP is a Eurosceptic party, generally leaning towards reform rather than withdrawal at the moment.

The DUP chooses to sit outside a European Parliamentary group. It is probably a best match for the European Conservatives and Reformists, but the UUP sits in that group. It could be a candidate to join the Europe of Freedom and Democracy grouping.