Abstention (August 1971 to March 1972)

  • Ian McAllister


For a constitutional political party, parliamentary abstention is always an available option when normal procedures for bringing change fail to match expectations. The difficulties in making it a successful tactic are obvious, for the constitutional party becomes a revolutionary party in that what it seeks is nothing less than a change in the structure of the system on its own terms. As abstention by-passes the normal channels of debate and compromise, the two remaining alternatives both encompass the actual or threatened use of force. One means is that of the armed revolutionary force, using explicit violence to challenge the state on the party’s behalf, the second a mass civil disobedience campaign orchestrated by the party or its supporters and deploying the implicit threat of violence. Neither is likely to be effective in isolation: co-ordination by a central body that will also disseminate propaganda is crucial.


Civil Disobedience Security Force British Government Unionist Government Direct Rule 
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© Ian McAllister 1977

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  • Ian McAllister

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