Intra-Party Support for the Good Friday Agreement in the Ulster Unionist Party

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Abstract

Party organisations are often ‘black boxes’ overlooked by scholars in favour of party leaders, manifestos and elections. Yet intra-party dynamics are often crucial. This article uses the example of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) to illustrate this. Events in the 1998–2003 period highlight the importance of splits within the party's governing Ulster Unionist Council (UUC) over the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) which underpins the Northern Ireland peace process. This article pioneers the use of postcode-profiling technology and uses multi-level analysis of a UUC party list to show that delegates' party section provides the best predictor of their stance towards the Good Friday Agreement. Consequently, the article argues that delegate voting behaviour within the UUC is best explained by reference to highly embedded, meso-level institutions which perpetuate networks and condition individual preferences.

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