One-party state

This article is about one-party political states. For telephone recording laws and notification requirements, see Telephone recording laws § One-party consent states.

A one-party state, single-party state, 1-party state, one-party system, single-party system, or 1-party system is a type of state in which one political party has the right to form the government, usually based on the existing constitution. All other parties are either outlawed or allowed to take only a limited and controlled participation in elections. Sometimes the term de facto one-party state is used to describe a dominant-party system that, unlike the one-party state, allows (at least nominally) democratic multiparty elections, but the existing practices or balance of political power effectively prevent the opposition from winning the elections.


One-party states explain themselves through various methods. Most often, proponents of a one-party state argue that the existence of separate parties runs counter to national unity. Others argue that the one party is the vanguard of the people, and therefore its right to rule cannot be legitimately questioned. The Soviet government argued that multiple parties represented the class struggle, which was absent in Soviet society, and so the Soviet Union only had one party: the Communist Party.

Some one-party states only outlaw opposition parties, while allowing subordinate allied parties to exist as part of a permanent coalition such as a popular front. Examples of this are the People's Republic of China under the United Front, or the National Front in former East Germany. Others may allow non-party members to run for legislative seats, as was the case with Taiwan's Tangwai movement in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the Soviet Union.

Within their own countries, dominant parties ruling over one-party states are often referred to simply as the Party. For example, in reference to the Soviet Union, the Party meant the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; in reference to the former People's Republic of Poland it referred to the Polish United Workers' Party.

Most one-party states have been ruled either by parties following the ideology of Marxism–Leninism and international solidarity (such as the Soviet Union for most of its existence), or by parties following some type of nationalist or fascist ideology (such as Italy under Benito Mussolini), or by parties that came to power in the wake of independence from colonial rule. One-party systems often arise from decolonization because one party has had an overwhelmingly dominant role in liberation or in independence struggles.

One-party states are often, but not always, considered to be authoritarian or totalitarian. However, not all authoritarian or totalitarian states operate based on one-party rule. Some, especially absolute monarchies and certain military dictatorships, have made all political parties illegal.

The term "communist state" is often used in the West to apply to states in which the ruling party subscribes to a form of Marxism–Leninism. However, such states do not use that term themselves, seeing communism as a phase to develop after the full maturation of socialism, and instead often use the titles of "people's republic", "socialist republic", or "democratic republic". One peculiar example is Cuba, where the role of the Communist Party is enshrined in the constitution, and no party is permitted to campaign or run candidates for election, including the Communist party. Candidates are elected on an individual referendum basis without formal party involvement, though elected assemblies predominantly consist of members of the dominant party alongside non-affiliated candidates.[1]


Countries by their form of government:
  Presidential republics with a full presidential system
  Presidential republics with a semi-presidential system
  Parliamentary republics with an executive president chosen by the parliament
  Parliamentary republics with a ceremonial president, where the prime minister is the executive
  Constitutional monarchies where executive power is vested in a prime minister
  Constitutional monarchies, which have a separate head of government but where royalty hold political power
  One-party states
  Countries that do not fit in any of the above listed systems (other systems or in transition)
  No government

The True Whig Party of Liberia is considered the founder of the first one-party state in the world, as despite opposition parties never being outlawed, it completely dominated Liberian politics from 1878 until 1980.[2] The party was conceived by the original Black American settlers and their descendants who referred to themselves as Americo-Liberians. Initially, its ideology was heavily influenced by that of the Whig Party in the United States. Over time it developed into a powerful Masonic Order that ruled every aspect of Liberian society for well over a century until it was overthrown in 1980. While the True Whig Party still exists today, its influence has substantially declined.

Current one-party states

As of 2013 the following countries are legally constituted as one-party states and the name of the one party in power:

Country Formerly Party Front One-party state adopted Incumbency due to
 People's Republic of China Presidential system (Part of the Republic of China) Communist Party of China United Front 1949 Chinese Civil War
 Democratic People's Republic of Korea Colony (Part of Korea under Japanese rule) Workers' Party of Korea Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland 1948 Liberation of Korea
 Cuba Semi-presidential system (Republic of Cuba) Communist Party of Cuba 1959 Cuban Revolution
 Laos Constitutional monarchy (Kingdom of Laos) Lao People's Revolutionary Party Lao Front for National Construction 1975 Laotian Civil War
 Vietnam Colony (State of Vietnam, part of French Indochina) Communist Party of Vietnam Vietnamese Fatherland Front 1954 First Indochina War
Semi-presidential system (South Vietnam) 1976 Vietnam War
 Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Colony (Before part of the Spanish Sahara) Polisario Front 1975 Western Sahara War
 Eritrea Provisional government (Part of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia) People's Front for Democracy and Justice 1991 Eritrean War of Independence

Former one-party states

Country Party Time period
 Algeria National Liberation Front 1962–1989
 Angola MPLA 1975–1991
 Benin People's Revolutionary Party of Benin 1975–1990
Republic of Upper Volta Upper Volta African Democratic Rally 1960–1966
 Burundi Union for National Progress 1966–1992
 Cameroon Cameroon National Union 1966–1985
Cameroon People's Democratic Movement 1985–1990
 Cape Verde African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde 1975–1980
African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde 1980–1990
 Central African Republic Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa 1962–1980
Central African Democratic Union 1980–1981
Central African Democratic Rally 1987–1991
 Chad Chadian Progressive Party 1962–1973
National Movement for the Cultural and Social Revolution 1973–1975
National Union for Independence and Revolution 1984–1990
 Comoros Comorian Union for Progress 1982–1990
 Congo-Brazzaville Congolese Party of Labour 1969–1990
Zaire Zaire Popular Movement of the Revolution 1970–1990
 Djibouti People's Rally for Progress 1977–1992
 Equatorial Guinea United National Workers Party 1970–1979
Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea 1987–1991
 Ethiopia Workers' Party of Ethiopia 1984–1991
 Egypt National Democratic Party 1956–1958, 1961–1962
Arab Socialist Union 1962–1976
 Gabon Gabonese Democratic Party 1968–1990
 Ghana Convention People's Party 1964–1966
 Guinea Democratic Party of Guinea – African Democratic Rally 1958–1984
 Guinea-Bissau African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde 1974–1991
 Ivory Coast Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire – African Democratic Rally 1960–1990
 Kenya Kenya African National Union 1982–1991
 Liberia True Whig Party 1878–1980
 Libya Arab Socialist Union 1971–1977
 Tunisia Neo Destour 1963–1964
Socialist Destourian Party 1964–1981
 Madagascar National Front for the Defense of the Revolution 1976–1989
 Malawi Malawi Congress Party 1964–1993
 Mali Sudanese Union – African Democratic Rally 1960–1968
Democratic Union of the Malian People 1976–1991
 Mauritania Mauritanian People's Party 1961–1978
 Mozambique FRELIMO 1975–1990
 Niger Nigerien Progressive Party – African Democratic Rally 1960–1974
National Movement for the Development of Society 1989–1991
 Rwanda Parmehutu 1965–1973
National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development 1975-1991
 São Tomé and Príncipe Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe/Social Democratic Party 1975–1990
 Senegal Socialist Party of Senegal 1966–1974
 Seychelles Seychelles People's Progressive Front 1977–1991
 Sierra Leone All People's Congress 1978–1991
 Somalia Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party 1976–1991
 Sudan Sudanese Socialist Union 1971–1985
National Congress Party 1989–2005
 Tanzania Chama Cha Mapinduzi 1977–1992
 Tanganyika Tanganyika African National Union 1961–1977
 Zanzibar Afro-Shirazi Party 1964–1977
 Togo Party of Togolese Unity 1962–1963
Rally of the Togolese People 1969–1991
 Uganda Uganda People's Congress 1969–1971
 Zambia United National Independence Party 1972–1990
Country Party Time period
 Iran Rastakhiz Party 1975–1978
Islamic Republican Party 1981–1987
 Iraq Iraqi Arab Socialist Union 1964–1968,
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region led the National Progressive Front 1968–2003
 North Yemen General People's Congress 1982–1988
 South Yemen Yemeni Socialist Party 1978–1990
 Syria Arab Liberation Movement 1953–1954
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Syria Region led the National Progressive Front 1963–2012
 Turkey Republican People's Party 1923–1945
 United Arab Republic National Democratic Party 1958–1961
Country Party Time period
 Turkmenistan Democratic Party of Turkmenistan 1991–2012 (de facto) 1992–2008 (de jure)
Country Party Time period
 Bangladesh Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League 1974–1975
Country Party Time period
 Burma (now known as Myanmar) Burma Socialist Programme Party 1964–1988
 Indonesia Indonesian National Party August 22–September 1, 1945
Country Party Time period
Afghanistan People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan led the National Front 1978–1992
 Albania Party of Labour of Albania led the Democratic Front 1944–1991
 Bulgaria Bulgarian Communist Party led the Fatherland Front 1946–1990
 Byelorussia Communist Party of Byelorussia 1918–1991
 Cambodia Communist Party of Kampuchea 1975–1979
Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party 1979–1993
 Czechoslovakia Communist Party of Czechoslovakia led the National Front 1948–1989
 East Germany Socialist Unity Party of Germany led the National Front 1949–1989
 Grenada New Jewel Movement 1979–1983
 Hungary Hungarian Working People's Party 1949–1956
Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party 1956–1989
 Mongolia Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party 1921–1990
 North Vietnam Workers' Party of Vietnam 1945–1976
 Poland Polish United Workers' Party led the Patriotic Movement for National Rebirth 1948–1989
 Socialist Republic of Romania Romanian Communist Party 1947–1989
 Soviet Union Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1925–1990
 Ukraine Communist Party of Ukraine (Soviet Union) 1918–1991
 Yugoslavia League of Communists of Yugoslavia led the Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia 1945–1990
Country Party Time period
 Afghanistan National Revolutionary Party of Afghanistan 1974–1978
 Austria Fatherland's Front 1934–1938
 Belgium Rexist Party 1940–1944
Vlaams Nationaal Verbond
 Bulgaria Zveno 1934–1944
 Republic of China (mainland) Kuomintang 1928–1949 (de facto)
1925–1948 (de jure)
 Republic of China (Taiwan) Kuomintang 1949-1987
 Independent State of Croatia Ustaša April 11, 1941 – May 10, 1945
 Dominican Republic Dominican Party 1931–1961
 Nazi Germany Nazi Party July 1933 – May 1945
 Guatemala Progressive Liberal Party 1931–1944[3][4]
 Haiti National Unity Party 1957–1985
 Hungary Arrow Cross Party 1944–1945
 Italy National Fascist Party 1922–1943
 Italian Social Republic Republican Fascist Party 1943–1945
 Japan Imperial Rule Assistance Association 1938–1945
 Manchukuo Concordia Association 1932–1940 (de facto)
1940–1945 (de jure)
 Norway National Gathering 1940–1945 (de facto)
1942–1945 (de jure)
 Paraguay Colorado Party 1947–1962
 Philippines KALIBAPI 1943–1945
 Portugal National Union 1933–1945 (de facto)
1937–1943 (de jure)
 Romania National Renaissance Front 1938–1940
National Legionary State 1940–1944
 San Marino Sammarinese Fascist Party 1926–1943
Republican Fascist Party of San Marino 1944
 Slovakia Slovak People's Party 1939–1945
 Spain Spanish Patriotic Union 1924–1930
 Spain Falange 1938–1975
 El Salvador National Pro Patria Party 1931-1944

See also


  1. Cuba: Elections and Events 1991–2001 Latin American Election Statistics Home
  2. Liberia Country Study: The True Whig Ascendancy Global Security
  3. Dombrowski, John. Area Handbook for Guatemala (1970), p. 32
  4. U.S. Office of Inter-American Affairs, Basic Data on the Other American Republics (1944), p. 91
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