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Democratic Left (Ireland)

From Academic Kids

In Ireland, Democratic Left was a socialist political party active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland between 1992 and 1997. Democratic Left was formed after a split in the Workers Party, which in turn had its origins in the 1970 split between Official Sinn Féin and Provisional Sinn Féin. A large proportion of the Workers Party left the party in 1992 after their attempt to amend its constitution (to break all links with the Official IRA fell just short of the required two-thirds majority at a special congress. The members who left included the party leader Proinsias De Rossa and five more of the party's seven members of Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas or Irish parliament). The new party they established was provisionally named New Agenda until its founding conference adopted the name Democratic Left. Proinsias De Rossa became leader of the new party.

In the 1992 general election the party lost two of its six Dáil seats, gaining 2.8% of the vote compared to 5% for the pre-split Workers Party in the preceding general election. It subsequently won two seats in by-elections.

After the collapse of the Fianna Fáil-Labour Party coalition government in 1994, Democratic Left joined the new coalition government with Fine Gael and the Labour Party. Proinsias De Rossa served as Minister for Social Welfare, initiating Ireland's first national anti-poverty strategy.

In the 1997 general election Democratic Left lost two of its six seats, gaining 2.5% of the vote. In 1999, the Democratic Left merged with the Labour Party. Labour Party leader Ruairí Quinn became leader of the unified party, while De Rossa took up the largely titular position of party president. In 1999 De Rossa successfully contested the European Parliament election in Dublin. He held his Dáil seat until 2002, but did not stand for reelection that year.

Former Democratic Left TDs Pat Rabbitte and Liz McManus were elected as Labour Party leader and deputy leader respectively in 2002. Of the 21 Labour Party TDs currently in the Dáil, 5 (Rabbitte, McManus, Eamon Gilmore, Kathleen Lynch and Joe Sherlock) are former members of the Democratic Left.

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