One-party state

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A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, single-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.[1] [2]


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 allied parties to exist as part of a permanent coalition such as a popular front. However, these parties are largely or completely subservient to the ruling party, and must accept the ruling party's monopoly of power as a condition of their existence. Examples of this are the People's Republic of China under the United Front, the National Front in former East Germany and the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland in North Korea. 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 elections in the former 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 pre-1991 Republic of Zambia it referred to the United National Independence 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 usually considered to be authoritarian, to the extent that they are politically totalitarian. On the other hand, not all authoritarian or totalitarian states operate based on one-party rule. But very few, especially absolute monarchies and certain military dictatorships, have no need for a ruling party, and they make 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. While the role of the Communist Party is enshrined in the constitution, no party is permitted to campaign or run candidates for election, including the Communists. Candidates are elected on an individual referendum basis without formal party involvement, though elected assemblies predominantly consist of members of the Communist Party alongside non-affiliated candidates.[3]


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

Current one-party states[edit]

As of 2017 the following countries are legally constituted as one-party states and the name of the one party in power both Marxist–Leninist and not:

Country Formerly Party Current leader Popular Front One-party state adopted
People's Republic of China Federated one-party semi-presidential republic

(Republic of China (1912-1949))

Communist Party of China Xi Jinping, General Secretary United Front 1949
Democratic People's Republic of Korea Dependent territory of the Empire of Japan (Korea under Japanese rule) Workers' Party of Korea Kim Jong-un, Chairman Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland 1948
Republic of Cuba Military dictatorship (Republic of Cuba (1902-1959)) Communist Party of Cuba Raúl Castro, First Secretary 1959
Lao People's Democratic Republic Constitutional monarchy (Kingdom of Laos) Lao People's Revolutionary Party Bounnhang Vorachit, General Secretary Lao Patriotic Front 1975
Lao Front for National Construction
Socialist Republic of Vietnam Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic (Democratic Republic of Vietnam) Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyễn Phú Trọng, General Secretary Vietnamese Fatherland Front 1945
Marxist–Leninist socialist provisional government (Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam)
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Colony of Spain (Spanish Sahara) Polisario Front Brahim Ghali 1975
State of Eritrea Provisional government (Part of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia) People's Front for Democracy and Justice Isaias Afwerki 1991
Kingdom of Cambodia Constitutional monarchy (restored since 1993) Cambodian People's Party Hun Sen 2017

Former one-party states[edit]

Country Party Front Date of establishment Date of dissolution
Dahomey Dahomeyan Unity Party 1961 1963
Dahomeyan Democratic Party 1963 1965
 Estonia Patriotic League National Front for the Implementation of the Constitution 1935 1940

Former big tent one-party states[edit]

Country Party Date of establishment Date of dissolution
 Cameroon Cameroon People's Democratic Movement 1985 1990

Former left-wing one-party states[edit]

Country Party Front Date of establishment Date of dissolution
 Algeria National Liberation Front 1962 1989
 Bangladesh Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League 1974 1975
Myanmar Burma Burma Socialist Programme Party 1964 1988
 Cape Verde African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde 1975 1980
African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde 1980 1990
 Djibouti People's Rally for Progress 1977 1992
 Egypt Arab Socialist Union 1962 1976
 Ghana Convention People's Party 1964 1966
 Guinea-Bissau African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde 1974 1991
Iraq Iraqi Arab Socialist Union 1964 1968
Iraq Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party National Progressive Front 1968 2003
Libya Libya Libyan Arab Socialist Union 1971 1977
Madagascar Democratic Republic of Madagascar National Front for the Defense of the Revolution 1976 1989
 Mauritania Mauritanian People's Party 1961 1978
 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
Sudan Democratic Republic of the Sudan Sudanese Socialist Union 1971 1985
 Syria Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party National Progressive Front 1963 2011
 Tanzania Chama Cha Mapinduzi 1977 1992
 Tanganyika Tanganyika African National Union 1961 1977
 Tunisia Socialist Destourian Party 1964 1981
 Uganda Uganda People's Congress 1969 1971
 Zambia United National Independence Party 1972 1990
 Zanzibar Afro-Shirazi Party 1964 1977

Former Marxist-Leninist one-party countries[edit]

Country Party Popular Front Date of establishment Date of dissolution
Afghanistan People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan National Fatherland Front 1978 1990
Albania Party of Labour of Albania Democratic Front 1945 1946
Albania Party of Labour of Albania Democratic Front 1946 1991
Angola Angola MPLA 1975 1991
Armenia Communist Party of Armenia 1920 1920
Azerbaijan Azerbaijani Democratic Party 1945 1946
Azerbaijan Communist Party of Azerbaijan 1920 1920
Benin Benin People's Revolutionary Party of Benin 1975 1990
Bulgaria Bulgarian Communist Party Fatherland Front 1946 1990
Byelorussia Communist Party of Byelorussia 1920 1922
China Communist Party of China 1930 1937
Czechoslovak Socialist Republic Czechoslovakia Communist Party of Czechoslovakia National Front 1948 1989
East Germany East Germany Democratic Bloc
(led by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany)
1949 1950
National Front of Democratic Germany
(led by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany)
1950 1973
National Front of the German Democratic Republic
(led by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany)
1973 1989
Estonia Russian Communist Party
(Central Committee of the Estonian Sections)
1918 1919
Estonia Communist Party of Estonia 1940 1940
Ethiopia Workers' Party of Ethiopia 1987 1991
Ethiopia Workers' Party of Ethiopia 1984 1987
Finland Communist Party of Finland 1939 1940
Georgia Communist Party of Georgia 1921 1922
Grenada Grenada New Jewel Movement 1979 1983
Guangzhou Communist Party of China 1927 1927
Hunan Communist Party of China 1927 1927
Hungary Hungarian Working People's Party 1949 1956
Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party 1956 1989
Jinggang Communist Party of China 1927 1928
Kampuchea Communist Party of Kampuchea 1975 1982
Kampuchea Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party 1979 1991
Latvia Communist Party of Latvia 1918 1920
Latvia Communist Party of Latvia 1940 1940
Mongolia Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party 1921 1990
Mozambique FRELIMO 1975 1990
North Vietnam North Vietnam League for the Independence of Vietnam
(led by the Workers' Party of North Vietnam)
1945 1946
Vietnamese National Popular Front
(led by the Workers' Party of North Vietnam)
1951 1955
Vietnamese Fatherland Front
(led by the Workers' Party of North Vietnam)
1955 1976
Lithuania Communist Party of Lithuania 1940 1940
Lithuania–Byelorussia Communist Party of Lithuania and Belorussia 1919 1919
Republic of the Congo People's Republic of the Congo Congolese Party of Labour 1969 1990
Persia Communist Party of Persia 1920 1921
Poland Polish United Workers' Party Patriotic Movement for National Rebirth 1947 1989
Romania People's Democratic Front
(led by the Romanian Communist Party)
1948 1968
Front of Socialist Unity
(led by the Romanian Communist Party)
1968 1980
Front of Socialist Unity and Democracy
(led by the Romanian Communist Party)
1980 1989
Russia Russian Social Democratic Labour Party 1917 1918
Russian Communist Party 1918 1922
Somalia Somalia Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party 1976 1991
People's Democratic Republic of Yemen South Yemen Yemeni Socialist Party 1978 1990
Southwest Jiangxi Communist Party of China 1930 1931
Soviet Union Russian Communist Party 1922 1925
All-Union Communist Party 1925 1952
Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1952 1990
Transcaucasia Communist Part of Armenia 1922 1922
Communist Party of Azerbaijan 1922 1922
Communist Party of Georgia 1922 1922
Tuvan Tuvan People's Revolutionary Party 1921 1944
Ukraine Communist Party of Ukraine 1919 1922
Yan'an Communist Party of China 1937 1949
Yemen Yemeni Socialist Party 1994 1994
Yugoslavia League of Communists of Yugoslavia Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia 1945 1990

Former right-wing one-party states[edit]

Country Party Date of establishment Date of dissolution
 Argentina National Autonomist Party 1874 1916
 Gabon Gabonese Democratic Party 1968 1990
 Iran Islamic Republican Party 1981 1987
 Ivory Coast Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire – African Democratic Rally 1960 1990
 Malawi Malawi Congress Party 1964 1993
 Mali Democratic Union of the Malian People 1976 1991
 Niger National Movement for the Development of Society 1989 1991
 Rwanda National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development 1978 1991

Former fascist or nationalist one-party states[edit]

Country Party Date of establishment Date of dissolution
Afghanistan Afghanistan National Revolutionary Party of Afghanistan 1974 1978
Albania Albania Albanian Fascist Party 1939 1943
Guard of Greater Albania 1943 1943
Albania Albania National Front 1943 1944
Austria Austria Fatherland's Front 1934 1938
Nazi Germany Belgium and Northern France Rexist Party 1940 1945
Vlaams Nationaal Verbond 1940 1944
Bulgaria Bulgaria Zveno 1934 1935
 Burundi Union for National Progress 1966 1992
 Cameroon Cameroon National Union 1966 1985
 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
Independent State of Croatia Croatia Ustaša – Croatian Revolutionary Movement 1941 1945
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Dominican Party 1931 1961
El Salvador El Salvador National Pro Patria Party 1931 1944
 Equatorial Guinea United National Workers Party 1970 1979
Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea 1987 1991
 Egypt National Democratic Party 1956 1958
1961 1962
Nazi Germany Germany
National Socialist German Workers' Party
  • 1939
  • 1945
Guatemala Guatemala Progressive Liberal Party 1931 1944
 Guinea Democratic Party of Guinea – African Democratic Rally 1958 1984
Haiti Haiti National Unity Party 1957 1985
Hungary Hungary Arrow Cross Party 1944 1945
 Indonesia Indonesian National Party 1945 1945
Iran Imperial State of Iran Rastakhiz Party 1975 1978
Italy Italy National Fascist Party 1928
  • 1939
  • 1943
Italian Social Republic Italy Republican Fascist Party 1943 1945
Japan Japan Imperial Rule Assistance Association 1942 1945
 Kenya Kenya African National Union 1982 1991
Lithuania Lithuania Lithuanian Nationalist Union 1927 1940
 Mali Sudanese Union – African Democratic Rally 1960 1968
Manchukuo Manchukuo Concordia Association 1931 1945
Nazi Germany Netherlands National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands 1941 1945
 Niger Nigerien Progressive Party – African Democratic Rally 1960 1974
 North Yemen General People's Congress 1982 1988
Nazi Germany Norway National Gathering 1942 1945
Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire Committee of Union and Progress 1913 1918
Paraguay Paraguay Colorado Party 1947 1962
Second Philippine Republic Philippines KALIBAPI 1943 1945
Portugal Portugal National Union 1937 1974
Romania Romania National Renaissance Front 1938 1940
Iron Guard 1940 1941
 Rwanda Parmehutu 1965 1973
San Marino San Marino Sammarinese Fascist Party 1926 1943
Republican Fascist Party of San Marino 1943 1944
Slovakia Hlinka's Slovak People's Party – Party of Slovak National Unity 1939 1945
Spain Spain Spanish Patriotic Union 1924 1930
Spain Spain Traditionalist Spanish Phalanx of the Committees of the National Syndicalist Offensive 1938 1975
 Sudan National Congress Party 1989 2005
Syria Syrian Republic Arab Liberation Movement 1953 1954
 Togo Party of Togolese Unity 1962 1963
Rally of the Togolese People 1969 1991
 Tunisia Neo Destour 1963 1964
Socialist Destourian Party 1964 1981
 Turkmenistan Democratic Party of Turkmenistan 1992 2008
 United Arab Republic National Union 1958 1961
Republic of Upper Volta Upper Volta African Democratic Rally 1960 1966
Yugoslavia Yugoslav National Party 1929 1931
Zaire Zaire Popular Movement of the Revolution 1970 1990

Former one-party governments with active opposition parties[edit]

Country Party Date of establishment Date of dissolution
 Turkey Republican People's Party 1923 1945

See also[edit]


External links[edit]