The Democratic Unionist Party was formed in 1971 by Desmond Boal, and the man who led the party for much of its history, Reverend Dr Ian Paisley, and is currently the largest of all political parties in Northern Ireland with 8 seats.
It initially found success within the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1973, where it had 8 representatives, and also gained 1 seat in the 2 General Elections held in 1974, the sole representative being Dr Paisley, who gained a majority of 27,631 votes in the February vote and 34,497 in the election held in October.
During the next 4 elections, the DUP held 3 seats within the 17 that were available within Northern Ireland, Dr Paisley and Peter Robinson retaining their seats in all 4, with John McQuade winning in 1979, before losing in 1983, and William McCrea winning in 1983, 1987, and 1992.
The DUP lost another of it’s seat in the 1997 General Election, with Paisley and Robinson, the Westminster representatives of the DUP, and this election saw major changes in Northern Ireland after the many years of “The Troubles”.
After the election, the DUP were involved in the negotiations to try to reunite Northern Ireland, but withdrew as Sinn Féin were invited to the discussions, while the Irish Republican Army (IRA), with whom Sinn Féin had links, had failed to surrender all of their weapons.
In the 2001 General Election, the DUP increased their seats to 5, and then to 9 in 2005, the highest number of seats in their history, and representing 50 per cent of the seats available in Northern Ireland.
Subsequently, the number of seats has been reduced to 8, in the 2010, and 2015 General Elections.
Dr Paisley led the party until 2008, when he stepped down, before leaving Parliament in 2010. His long time deputy, Peter Robinson took over as leader until 2015, when he also stepped down, and Arlene Foster was elected as leader, taking the role from 17 December 2015.