Single-party state

Single-party state

A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election. Sometimes the term de facto single-party state is used to describe a dominant-party system where laws or practices prevent the opposition from legally getting power.



Some single party states only outlaw opposition parties, while allowing subordinate allied parties to exist as part of a permanent coalition such as a popular front. Within their own countries, dominant parties ruling over single-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.

Some one-party states may allow non-party members to run for legislative seats, as was the case with Taiwan's Tangwai movement in the 1970s and 1980s. Other single-party states may allow limited participation by approved minor parties, such as the People's Republic of China under the United Front, or the National Front in former East Germany.

Most single-party states have been ruled either by parties following Leninism, or by parties following some type of nationalist or fascist ideology, or 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. Not all authoritarian states and dictatorships operate based on single-party rule. Some, especially absolute monarchies and certain military dictatorships, have made all political parties illegal.

Where the ruling party subscribes to a form of Marxism-Leninism, the one-party state system is usually called a communist state, though such states do not use that term to describe themselves, adopting instead the title 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]


The True Whig Party of Liberia is considered the founder of the first single-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 morphed 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 single-party states

The following list includes the countries that are legally constituted as single-party states as of 2010 and the name of the single party in power:

Former single-party states

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. ^ Kaplan, Irving (ed.). Zaire: A Country Study. Third Edition, First Printing. 1979.

External links

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