General election: don’t rule out Northern Ireland's DUP!

Union Jack

Northern Ireland’s largest party, the DUP, have suggested that they would be willing to work with either Miliband or Cameron.

May is likely going to result in another hung parliament. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are a party which could help push either a Labour-led group or a Conservative-led one over the line for a majority.

The party currently has eight MPs, making them the fourth largest in the parliament. They will likely hold all their MPs and reclaim Belfast East as suggested in a recent poll. This could make them a major player come May, especially if more than two parties are needed to provide stable governance.

In an article in the New Statesman on Monday, it was reported that Nigel Dodds, the party’s Westminster leader, said to George Eaton that:

“We can do business with either of the two leaders, either Ed Miliband or David Cameron, and we will obviously judge what’s in the best interests of the United Kingdom as a whole.”

This suggests that whilst generally seen as a right of centre party, the DUP would be willing to work with even Labour.

However, the parties have more in common than one might think. Dodds said to the New Statesman that:

“The way in which energy markets work, the way in which there’s big monopolies and such power concentrated, that’s an example of where I think you have to step in and say ‘so far and no more’.”

He also attacked the bedroom tax, saying that:

“We don’t believe the bedroom tax being imposed on existing tenants is fair or reasonable.”

From Dodds’ talk with the New Statesman it’s clear that Labour and the DUP could work together on some issues, particularly energy and welfare. In another interview with the Guardian, Dodds also reiterated his willingness to work with Labour and others, saying:

“MPs in both main parties, including Labour, have said they would be comfortable working with us as they have done in the current parliament.

However, the likelyhood of the DUP entering into a coalition is small. A confidence and supply agreement is more likely with the party making sure that Northern Ireland gets support in order to prop-up either a Labour or Tory led government.

Of the idea of a coalition Dodds said to the New Statesman that:

“We are not interested in a full-blown coalition government with ministerial positions and all of that.”

May will produce an interesting parliament, most likely one without a majority. Both the main parties will need to discuss with others in an attempt to form a majority, and the DUP could be key to supporting the next government.

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