Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Murphy, MC;Evershed, J
Irish Political Studies
The DUP and the European Union: from contestation to conformance and back again horizontal ellipsis
Optional Fields
The UK's decision to leave the European Union (EU) has revealed the ways in which the logic of European unity conflicts fundamentally with the very particular understandings of the UK Union at the heart of the political identity of Northern Ireland's largest political party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). This article maps the changes in the relationship between the DUP and the EU over time, charting the party's developing approach to European integration as one defined first by confrontation, then increasing (although incomplete) apparent accommodation, and latterly to renewed hostility as Brexit became an issue of increasing and immediate consequence. By locating this study within the broader theoretical and comparative literature on nationalist/regionalist parties' strategies towards the EU, we note that the DUP stands as an outlier relative to other small ethno-nationalist parties. We conclude that despite recent, apparently 'liberalising' trends (in part driven by involvement with EU institutions) DUP unionism, unlike the ideologies of regionalist parties in other parts of Europe, has remained stubbornly more 'ethnic' and exclusionary than integrationist or 'civic' in nature, and continues to rest ultimately on a narrow and particular conception of sovereignty which is perceived to be threatened by 'ever closer Union' at a European level.
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