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The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) ( ga, Páirtí Sóisialta Daonlathach an Lucht Oibre) is a
social-democratic Social democracy is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy within socialism that supports Democracy, political and economic democracy. As a policy regime, it is described by academics as advocati ...
and
Irish nationalist Irish nationalism is a nationalist political movement which, in its broadest sense, asserts that the people of Ireland should govern Ireland as a sovereign state. Since the mid-19th century, Irish nationalism has largely taken the form of c ...
political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific ideological or p ...
in
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is #Descriptions, variously described as ...
. The SDLP currently has eight members in the
Northern Ireland Assembly sco-ulster, Norlin Airlan Assemblie , legislature = Seventh Assembly , coa_pic = File:NI_Assembly.svg , coa_res = 250px , house_type = Unicameral , house1 = , leader1_type = S ...
(
MLAs The Max Launch Abort System (MLAS) was a proposed alternative to the Maxime Faget-invented "tractor" launch escape system (LES) that was planned for use by NASA for its Orion spacecraft in the event an Ares I malfunction during launch requir ...
) and two
Members of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative in parliament of the people who live in their electoral district. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, this term refers only to members of the lower house since upper house members of ...
(MPs) in the
House of Commons of the United Kingdom The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster in London, England. The House of Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 ...
. The SDLP
party platform A political party platform (US English), party program, or party manifesto (preferential term in British & often Commonwealth English) is a formal set of principle goals which are supported by a political party or individual candidate, in order ...
advocates
Irish reunification United Ireland, also referred to as Irish reunification, is the proposition that all of Ireland should be a single sovereign state. At present, the island is divided politically; the sovereign Republic of Ireland has jurisdiction over the maj ...
and further devolution of powers while Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom. During
the Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted about 30 years from the late 1960s to 1998. Also known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as an "i ...
, the SDLP was the most popular Irish nationalist party in Northern Ireland, but since the
Provisional IRA The Irish Republican Army (IRA; ), also known as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, and informally as the Provos, was an Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, facilitate Irish re ...
ceasefire in 1994, it has lost ground to the
republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or agains ...
party
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, " eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The original Sinn Féin organisation was founded in 1905 by Arthur Gr ...
, which in 2001 became the more popular of the two parties for the first time. Established during the Troubles, a significant difference between the two parties was the SDLP's rejection of violence, in contrast to Sinn Féin's then-support for (and organisational ties to) the
Provisional IRA The Irish Republican Army (IRA; ), also known as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, and informally as the Provos, was an Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, facilitate Irish re ...
and physical force republicanism.


History


Foundation and early history

The party was founded in August 1970, when six Stormont MPs and one Senator, former members of the
Republican Labour Party The Republican Labour Party (RLP) was a political party in Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1964, with two MPs at Stormont, Harry Diamond and Gerry Fitt. They had previously been the sole Northern Ireland representatives of the Socialist R ...
(a party with ties to the Irish Labour Party), the National Democratic Party (NDP, a small nationalist party that dissolved itself after the foundation of the SDLP), individual nationalists, former members of the Nationalist Party and members of the
Northern Ireland Labour Party The Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP) was a political party in Northern Ireland which operated from 1924 until 1987. Origins The roots of the NILP can be traced back to the formation of the Belfast Labour Party in 1892. William Walker stoo ...
, joined to form a new party. The SDLP initially rejected the Nationalist Party's policy of
abstentionism Abstentionism is standing for election to a deliberative assembly while refusing to take up any seats won or otherwise participate in the assembly's business. Abstentionism differs from an election boycott in that abstentionists participate in ...
and sought to fight for
civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one's entitlement to participate in the civil and political life ...
within the Stormont system. However, the SDLP quickly came to the view that Stormont was unreformable, and withdrew from parliamentary involvement. After the abolition of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, the SDLP emerged as the second-largest party, and the largest party representing the nationalist community, in
elections An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has opera ...
to the new
Northern Ireland Assembly sco-ulster, Norlin Airlan Assemblie , legislature = Seventh Assembly , coa_pic = File:NI_Assembly.svg , coa_res = 250px , house_type = Unicameral , house1 = , leader1_type = S ...
established in 1973: the party won 19 out of 75 seats. The SDLP was one of the parties involved in the negotiations that resulted in the
Sunningdale Agreement The Sunningdale Agreement was an attempt to establish a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive and a cross-border Council of Ireland. The agreement was signed at Sunningdale Park located in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on 9 December 1973. Unioni ...
, which in turn resulted in the establishment of a power-sharing executive in January 1974.
Gerry Fitt Gerard Fitt, Baron Fitt (9 April 1926 – 26 August 2005) was a politician in Northern Ireland. He was a founder and the first leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), a social democratic and Irish nationalist party. Early yea ...
, the SDLP party leader, took office as deputy chief executive, taking government alongside the
Ulster Unionist Party The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland. The party was founded in 1905, emerging from the Irish Unionist Alliance in Ulster. Under Edward Carson, it led unionist opposition to the Irish Home Rule m ...
(led by
Brian Faulkner Arthur Brian Deane Faulkner, Baron Faulkner of Downpatrick, (18 February 1921 – 3 March 1977), was the sixth and last Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, from March 1971 until his resignation in March 1972. He was also the chief executive ...
) and the Alliance Party. The Assembly and Executive were short-lived, however, collapsing after only four months due to sustained opposition from within the unionist community regarding the role being given to the Irish government in terms of Northern Ireland: it was to be 25 years before the party sat in government again.


Good Friday Agreement and return to government

The SDLP was a key player in the talks throughout the 1990s that led to the signing of the
Good Friday Agreement The Good Friday Agreement (GFA), or Belfast Agreement ( ga, Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta or ; Ulster-Scots: or ), is a pair of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that ended most of the violence of The Troubles, a political conflict in No ...
in 1998. John Hume won a
Nobel Peace Prize The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor and armaments (military weapons and equipment) manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiolo ...
that year with
Ulster Unionist Party The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland. The party was founded in 1905, emerging from the Irish Unionist Alliance in Ulster. Under Edward Carson, it led unionist opposition to the Irish Home Rule m ...
leader
David Trimble William David Trimble, Baron Trimble, (15 October 1944 – 25 July 2022) was a British politician who was the first First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2002, and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) from 1995 to 2005. He wa ...
in recognition of their efforts. As a result of the Agreement,
elections An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has opera ...
to a new
Northern Ireland Assembly sco-ulster, Norlin Airlan Assemblie , legislature = Seventh Assembly , coa_pic = File:NI_Assembly.svg , coa_res = 250px , house_type = Unicameral , house1 = , leader1_type = S ...
were held in June 1998; the SDLP emerged as the second-largest party overall, and the largest nationalist party, with 24 out of 108 seats. The party was then returned to government later in the year when a
power-sharing Power sharing is a practice in conflict resolution where multiple groups distribute political, military, or economic power among themselves according to agreed rules. It can refer to any formal framework or informal pact that regulates the distri ...
Executive Executive ( exe., exec., execu.) may refer to: Role or title * Executive, a senior management role in an organization ** Chief executive officer (CEO), one of the highest-ranking corporate officers (executives) or administrators ** Executive di ...
was established for Northern Ireland. The SDLP took office alongside the
Ulster Unionist Party The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland. The party was founded in 1905, emerging from the Irish Unionist Alliance in Ulster. Under Edward Carson, it led unionist opposition to the Irish Home Rule m ...
(UUP), the
Democratic Unionist Party The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is a unionist, loyalist, and national conservative political party in Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1971 during the Troubles by Ian Paisley, who led the party for the next 37 years. Currently led by J ...
(DUP), and
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, " eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The original Sinn Féin organisation was founded in 1905 by Arthur Gr ...
, and the SDLP's
Seamus Mallon Seamus Frederick Mallon (; 17 August 1936 – 24 January 2020) was an Irish politician who served as deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2001 and Deputy Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) from 1979 to 20 ...
became Deputy First Minister alongside the UUP's First Minister,
David Trimble William David Trimble, Baron Trimble, (15 October 1944 – 25 July 2022) was a British politician who was the first First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2002, and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) from 1995 to 2005. He wa ...
. Upon Mallon's retirement in 2001,
Mark Durkan Mark Durkan (born 26 June 1960) is a retired Irish nationalist politician from Northern Ireland. Durkan was the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland from November 2001 to October 2002, and the Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour ...
succeeded him as Deputy First Minister.


All-island Merger

There had been a debate in the party on the prospects of amalgamation with
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative and Christia ...
. Little came of this speculation and former party leader, Margaret Ritchie, rejected the idea. Speaking at the 2010 Irish Labour Party national conference in Galway she said that a merger would not happen while she was leader – "Merger with Fianna Fáil? Not on my watch." After his election as Fianna Fáil Leader in January 2011,
Micheál Martin Micheál Martin (; born 1 August 1960) is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who is serving as Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence since December 2022. He served as Taoiseach from 2020 to 2022 and has been Leader of ...
repeatedly dismissed the possibility of a merger or electoral alliance with the SDLP. In January 2019, the SDLP membership were e-mailed on the issue with the text "continuing on as normal is not an option", a reference to the party's declining fortunes. In February 2019, at a special party conference, the members approved a partnership with
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative and Christia ...
, the main opposition party in the Republic of Ireland. Both parties shared policies on key areas including addressing the current political situation in Northern Ireland, improving public services in both jurisdictions of Ireland, such as healthcare and education, and bringing about further unity and co-operation of the people on the island and arrangements for a future poll on
Irish reunification United Ireland, also referred to as Irish reunification, is the proposition that all of Ireland should be a single sovereign state. At present, the island is divided politically; the sovereign Republic of Ireland has jurisdiction over the maj ...
.
Claire Hanna Claire Aisling Hanna (born 19 June 1980) is an Irish Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) politician from Northern Ireland. In December 2019, she was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Belfast South in the House of Commons. Previous ...
, MLA for Belfast South and party spokesperson on Brexit, quit the assembly group as a result. In the lead up to the 2022 Assembly election, party leader Colum Eastwood played down the partnership stating, "The SDLP stands on its own two feet." This led people to commentate that the partnership is no longer active, with comments from as early as 2020 determining that it had been "quietly forgotten". The partnership officially ended on 28 September 2022.


Westminster Parliament

In contrast to
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, " eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The original Sinn Féin organisation was founded in 1905 by Arthur Gr ...
, which follows a policy of
abstentionism Abstentionism is standing for election to a deliberative assembly while refusing to take up any seats won or otherwise participate in the assembly's business. Abstentionism differs from an election boycott in that abstentionists participate in ...
, the SDLP MPs have always taken their seat in the
Westminster parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It meets at the Palace of Westminster, London. It alone possesses legislative supremacy ...
. The party's first MP was its leader
Gerry Fitt Gerard Fitt, Baron Fitt (9 April 1926 – 26 August 2005) was a politician in Northern Ireland. He was a founder and the first leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), a social democratic and Irish nationalist party. Early yea ...
who was already a sitting MP when the SDLP was founded. The SDLP's best result was in 1992 general election when they won four out of 17 seats. Its worst result was in
2017 File:2017 Events Collage V2.png, From top left, clockwise: The War Against ISIS at the Battle of Mosul (2016-2017); aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing; The Solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 ("Great American Eclipse"); North Korea tests a s ...
when they lost all their seats. In
2019 File:2019 collage v1.png, From top left, clockwise: Hong Kong protests turn to widespread riots and civil disobedience; House of Representatives votes to adopt articles of impeachment against Donald Trump; CRISPR gene editing first used to experim ...
they won two seats. Although not abstentionist, SDLP MPs have protested the parliamentary oath required of every member of parliament. At the swearing in ceremony after the 2019 general election, the party leader
Colum Eastwood Colum Eastwood (born 30 April 1983) is an Irish nationalist politician serving as Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) since 2015. He has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Foyle since 2019, served in Northern Irel ...
said: :"Under protest and in order to represent my constituency, I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. My true allegiance is to the people of Derry and the people of Ireland."


Proposed Dáil participation

The SDLP, along with Sinn Féin, have long sought speaking rights in
Dáil Éireann Dáil Éireann ( , ; ) is the lower house, and principal chamber, of the Oireachtas (Irish legislature), which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann (the upper house).Article 15.1.2º of the Constitution of Ireland rea ...
, the
lower house A lower house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a Bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house. Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide, the lower house has co ...
of the Republic's
parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: representing the electorate, making laws, and overseeing the government via hearings and inquiries. Th ...
. In 2005,
Taoiseach The Taoiseach is the head of government, or prime minister, of Ireland. The office is appointed by the president of Ireland upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas, Ireland's national legislature) and the of ...
Bertie Ahern Bartholomew Patrick "Bertie" Ahern (born 12 September 1951) is an Irish former Fianna Fáil politician who served as Taoiseach from 1997 to 2008, Leader of Fianna Fáil from 1994 to 2008, Leader of the Opposition from 1994 to 1997, Tánaiste a ...
, leader of
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative and Christia ...
, put forward a proposal to allow MPs and MEPs from Northern Ireland to participate in debates on the region. However, the plan was met with vociferous opposition from the Republic's main opposition parties,
Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English: "Family (or Tribe) of the Irish") is a liberal-conservative and Christian-democratic political party in Ireland. Fine Gael is currently the third-largest party in the Republic of Ireland in terms of members of Dáil É ...
and the Labour Party, and was subsequently shelved. Unionists had also strongly opposed the proposal.


Remembrance Day 2010

On
Remembrance Day Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day owing to the tradition of wearing a remembrance poppy) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth member states since the end of the First World War to honour armed forces members who have died in ...
in 2010, party leader Margaret Ritchie became the first leader of a nationalist party to wear a poppy while attending a wreath-laying ceremony in
Downpatrick Downpatrick () is a town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is on the Lecale peninsula, about south of Belfast. In the Middle Ages, it was the capital of the Dál Fiatach, the main ruling dynasty of Ulaid. Its cathedral is said to be the b ...
,
County Down County Down () is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland, one of the nine counties of Ulster and one of the traditional thirty-two counties of Ireland. It covers an area of and has a population of 531,665. It borders County Antrim to th ...
. The poppy is worn on the lapel in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales and ...
as a mark of respect and remembrance for fallen British soldiers in the period around Remembrance Day and is controversial in Northern Ireland, as it is viewed by many as a political symbol representing support for the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces along with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. , the British Army comprises 79,380 regular full-time personnel, 4,090 Gurkha ...
. Because of this, it has long been the preserve of the unionist/
loyalist Loyalism, in the United Kingdom, its overseas territories and its former colonies, refers to the allegiance to the British crown or the United Kingdom. In North America, the most common usage of the term refers to loyalty to the British C ...
community. Her actions drew praise from unionists.


Leadership challenges and elections, 2011–2015

On 27 July 2011, it was reported that Margaret Ritchie faced a leadership challenge from deputy leader Patsy McGlone. '' The Phoenix'' reported that only one MLA,
Alex Attwood Alexander Gerard Attwood (born 26 April 1959) is an Irish Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) politician, who served as Minister for Environment in the Northern Ireland Executive from 2011 to 2013. Atwood served as a Member of the Leg ...
was prepared to back her and that "she will be humiliated if she puts her leadership to a vote". Alasdair McDonnell was confirmed as Ritchie's successor after the subsequent leadership election on 5 November 2011.
Colum Eastwood Colum Eastwood (born 30 April 1983) is an Irish nationalist politician serving as Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) since 2015. He has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Foyle since 2019, served in Northern Irel ...
challenged McDonnell and replaced him as leader after the party's 2015 leadership election.


Ideology and policies

The SDLP is a
social democratic Social democracy is a political, social, and economic philosophy within socialism that supports political and economic democracy. As a policy regime, it is described by academics as advocating economic and social interventions to promote so ...
party that opposes
austerity Austerity is a set of political-economic policies that aim to reduce government budget deficits through spending cuts, tax increases, or a combination of both. There are three primary types of austerity measures: higher taxes to fund spend ...
and
Brexit Brexit (; a portmanteau of "British exit") was the Withdrawal from the European Union, withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) at 23:00 Greenwich Mean Time, GMT on 31 January 2020 (00:00 1 February 2020 Central Eur ...
. It is also an
Irish nationalist Irish nationalism is a nationalist political movement which, in its broadest sense, asserts that the people of Ireland should govern Ireland as a sovereign state. Since the mid-19th century, Irish nationalism has largely taken the form of c ...
party advocating for a shared home place for all the people on the island of Ireland. While the party is officially
anti-abortion Anti-abortion movements, also self-styled as pro-life or abolitionist movements, are involved in the abortion debate advocating against the practice of abortion and its legality. Many anti-abortion movements began as countermovements in respo ...
it does not apply a party whip on the issue. The party supports
LGBTQ+ ' is an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. In use since the 1990s, the initialism, as well as some of its common variants, functions as an umbrella term for sexuality and gender identity. The LGBT term is ...
rights including
marriage equality Same-sex marriage, also known as gay marriage, is the marriage of two people of the same sex or gender. marriage between same-sex couples is legally performed and recognized in 33 countries, with the most recent being Mexico, constituting ...
, the roll out of
PrEP PowerPC Reference Platform (PReP) was a standard system architecture for PowerPC-based computer systems (as well as a reference implementation) developed at the same time as the PowerPC processor architecture. Published by IBM in 1994, it allo ...
across Northern Ireland and LGBT education in schools. The SDLP is anti-xenophobic and opposes plans to create what it deems a hostile environment for immigrants. The party also supports an
Irish language act The Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Act 2022 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom providing "official recognition of the status of the Irish language" in Northern Ireland, with Ulster Scots being an officially recognised mi ...
. The SDLP believes that 3,000 social and affordable houses should be built every year. They oppose the gig economy and
zero-hour contract A zero-hour contract is a type of employment contract between an employer and an employee whereby the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum number of working hours to the employee. The term 'zero-hour contract' is primarily used in the ...
s. The party opposes welfare reform and the cut to
universal credit Universal Credit is a United Kingdom social security payment. It is means-tested and is replacing and combining six benefits for working-age households with a low income: income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker' ...
. Despite opposing academic selection the party does not advocate the abolition of
grammar school A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching Latin, but more recently an academically oriented secondary school ...
s. The party supports the abolition of
tuition fees Tuition payments, usually known as tuition in American English and as tuition fees in Commonwealth English, are fees charged by education institutions for instruction or other services. Besides public spending (by governments and other public bo ...
. It wants to make a modern language up to
GCSE The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is an academic qualification in a particular subject, taken in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. State schools in Scotland use the Scottish Qualifications Certificate instead. Private sc ...
and the teaching of maths up to the age of 18 compulsory. The party believes that the
Magee campus , image = , caption = ''Top:'' ''Ulster University's coat of arms'Bottom:'' ''The Magee main building'' , motto_lang = , mottoeng = , established = 1865 – Magee College 1953 – Magee Univers ...
in
Derry Derry, officially Londonderry (), is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and the fifth-largest city on the island of Ireland. The name ''Derry'' is an anglicisation of the Old Irish name (modern Irish: ) meaning 'oak grove'. The ...
should be expanded to 10,000 student places. The party supports a green corporate levy on businesses who contribute large amounts of
greenhouse gas A greenhouse gas (GHG or GhG) is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere are water vapor (), carbon dioxide (), methane ...
es and a green jobs strategy. They also believe that a climate emergency should be declared and the government should be required to reach net zero emissions.


Leadership

Colum Eastwood Colum Eastwood (born 30 April 1983) is an Irish nationalist politician serving as Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) since 2015. He has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Foyle since 2019, served in Northern Irel ...
is the sixth leader of the SDLP, taking over from
Alasdair McDonnell Dr Alasdair McDonnell (born 1 September 1949) is an Irish politician who is a member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and was its leader from 2011 to 2015. He was the Member of Parliament for Belfast South from 2005 to 2017 and ...
in 2015.


Leader


Deputy leader


Elected representatives

The SDLP currently have two MPs in the
UK Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It meets at the Palace of Westminster, London. It alone possesses legislative suprem ...
, eight MLAs in the
Northern Ireland Assembly sco-ulster, Norlin Airlan Assemblie , legislature = Seventh Assembly , coa_pic = File:NI_Assembly.svg , coa_res = 250px , house_type = Unicameral , house1 = , leader1_type = S ...
and 56 councillors across Northern Ireland's 11 councils.


MPs


MLAs


Other Spokespeople


Electoral performance

Upon its formation, the SDLP quickly established itself as the second largest party and the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland. It largely held this position until the beginning of the 21st century. In the 1998 Assembly election, it became the biggest party overall in terms of votes received and the first nationalist party to do so. This would be the largest seat share it would ever hold as it slowly saw declining support following the retirement of
John Hume John Hume (18 January 19373 August 2020) was an Irish nationalist politician from Northern Ireland, widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the recent political history of Ireland, as one of the architects of the Northern Ire ...
in 2001. Under leader
Mark Durkan Mark Durkan (born 26 June 1960) is a retired Irish nationalist politician from Northern Ireland. Durkan was the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland from November 2001 to October 2002, and the Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour ...
, the 2001 general election and the 2003 Assembly election saw fellow Irish nationalist party
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, " eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The original Sinn Féin organisation was founded in 1905 by Arthur Gr ...
win more seats and votes than the SDLP for the first time, a position they would continue to hold. In the 2004 European elections, Hume stood down and the SDLP failed to retain the seat he had held since 1979, losing it to
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, " eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The original Sinn Féin organisation was founded in 1905 by Arthur Gr ...
.
Alban Maginness Alban may refer to: * Alban (surname) * Alban (given name) *Alban people, Latin people from the city of Alba Longa. *Things or people from or related to Alba (Gaelic for 'Scotland') * Alban wine, a wine of Ancient Rome from Colli Albani * Alban V ...
attempted to take the seat again in the 2009 European elections the party fielded as their candidate and failed to gain a seat with 78,489 first preference votes. The party further declined in the 2011 Assembly elections and the 2016 Assembly election, as the total number of votes received continued to drop. The 2017 Assembly election saw the party retain its 12-seat count from the prior election, increasing its seat share due to a drop in the size of the assembly for the first time since 1998. This was followed by the 2017 general election where the SDLP lost all three seats and returned its worst ever vote share. In the
2019 European election The 2019 European Parliament election was held between 23 and 26 May 2019, the ninth parliamentary election since the first direct elections in 1979. A total of 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) represent more than 512 million peopl ...
, the final in the United Kingdom's history, party leader
Colum Eastwood Colum Eastwood (born 30 April 1983) is an Irish nationalist politician serving as Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) since 2015. He has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Foyle since 2019, served in Northern Irel ...
ran, increasing his party's vote but failing to take a seat. In the
general election A general election is a political voting election where generally all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation, state, or territory's primary legislative body, and are different from by-elections ( ...
later that year the party recaptured Belfast South and Foyle with the highest ever vote recorded for the party in both constituencies and managed to increase its vote across Northern Ireland to its highest in almost fifteen years for a general election. The two seats held by the party currently have the largest majorities of any constituencies in Northern Ireland. In the 2022 Assembly election, the SDLP slipped to the 5th largest party with only eight seats in the Assembly. Some see the SDLP as first and foremost a party now representing
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
middle-class interests, with voters concentrated in rural areas and the professional classes, rather than a vehicle for Irish nationalism. The SDLP reject this argument, pointing to their strong support in
Derry Derry, officially Londonderry (), is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and the fifth-largest city on the island of Ireland. The name ''Derry'' is an anglicisation of the Old Irish name (modern Irish: ) meaning 'oak grove'. The ...
and their victory in South Belfast in the 2005 election. Furthermore, in the lead up to the 2005 Westminster election, they published a document outlining their plans for a politically united Ireland. Their decline in Northern Ireland outside of two particular strongholds had led some to dub the party the "South Down and Londonderry Party".


Devolved legislature elections


Westminster elections


Local government elections


European elections


See also

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Demography and politics of Northern Ireland Since 1998, Northern Ireland has devolved government within the United Kingdom. The government and Parliament of the United Kingdom are responsible for reserved and excepted matters. Reserved matters are a list of policy areas (such as civ ...
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Labour Party in Northern Ireland The Labour Party in Northern Ireland (LPNI, ga, Páirtí an Lucht Oibre i dTuaisceart Éireann) is the UK Labour Party's regional constituency organisation that operates in Northern Ireland. The Labour Party is not a registered political part ...


References


External links

* {{Authority control 1970 establishments in Northern Ireland Political parties established in 1970 Irish republicanism Social democratic parties Labour parties in Northern Ireland Centre-left parties in the United Kingdom Pro-European political parties in the United Kingdom