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Alliance Party

Alliance Party. Formed in April 1970 against the backdrop of accelerating communal violence to bridge the gap between the unionists and nationalists of Northern Ireland. The party was represented at the Sunningdale conference (December 1973) and in the power-sharing executive (January–May 1974): it has remained loyal to the broad principles embodied in the Sunningdale agreement (power-sharing between unionists and nationalists within a Union framework). Its share of the vote peaked in 1977, when its candidates secured 14.4 per cent in the district council elections: recent electoral performance has been weaker, settling usually at 7–8 per cent. The party has never been able to expand its base beyond middle-class liberals and the small, anti-sectarian section of the working class who once voted for the Northern Ireland Labour Party. However, as with other centrist parties, Alliance commands a respect and wields an influence beyond its electoral support.

Alvin Jackson

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