One-party state

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

World's states coloured by form of government1
     Full presidential republics2      Semi-presidential republics2
     Republics with an executive president elected by or nominated by the legislature that may or may not be subject to parliamentary confidence.      Parliamentary republics2
     Parliamentary constitutional monarchies      Constitutional monarchies which have a separate head of government but where royalty still hold significant executive and/or legislative power
     Absolute monarchies      One-party states
     Countries where constitutional provisions for government have been suspended (e.g. military dictatorships)      Countries which do not fit any of the above systems
1This map was compiled according to the Wikipedia list of countries by system of government. See there for sources. 2Several states constitutionally deemed to be multiparty republics are broadly described by outsiders as authoritarian states. This map presents only the de jure form of government, and not the de facto degree of democracy.


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, namely the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

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 Korea in North Korea. Others may outlaw all other parties yet allow non-party members to run for legislative seats as independent, as was the case with Taiwan's Tangwai movement in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the elections in the former Soviet Union. Still others may both outlaw all other parties and include party membership as a prerequisite for holding public office, such as in Turkmenistan under the rule of Saparmurat Niyazov or Zaire under Mobutu Sese Seko.

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 by parties forming in one of the following three circumstances:

  1. an ideology of Marxism–Leninism and international solidarity (such as the Soviet Union for most of its existence)
  2. some type of nationalist or fascist ideology (such as Kingdom of Italy under National Fascist Party)
  3. parties that came to power in the wake of independence from colonial rule. One-party systems often arise from decolonization because a single party gains 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 occasionally totalitarian. On the other hand, not all authoritarian or totalitarian states operate upon one-party rule. Some, especially amongst absolute monarchies and military dictatorships, have no need for a ruling party, and therefore make all political parties illegal.

The term "communist state" is sometimes used in the West to describe states in which the ruling party subscribes to a form of Marxism–Leninism. However, such states may not use that term themselves, seeing communism as a phase to develop after the full maturation of socialism, and instead use descriptions such as "people's republic", "socialist republic", or "democratic republic". One peculiar example is Cuba where, despite the role of the Communist Party being enshrined in the constitution, no party, including the Communist Party, is permitted to campaign or run candidates for elections. Candidates are elected on an individual referendum basis without formal party involvement, although elected assemblies predominantly consist of members of the Communist Party alongside non-affiliated candidates.[2]

Current one-party statesEdit

As of 2020 the following countries are legally constituted as one-party states:

Country Head of party Party Head of popular front Ideology Popular front Date of establishment Duration
  Democratic People's Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un, Chairman   Workers' Party of Korea Pak Myong-chol, President[3] Juche Democratic Front for the Reunification of Korea October 10, 1945 75 years, 14 days
  Lao People's Democratic Republic Bounnhang Vorachith, General Secretary   Lao People's Revolutionary Party Xaysomphone Phomvihane, President of the Standing Committee Marxism–Leninism Lao Front for National Construction December 2, 1975 44 years, 327 days
  People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, General Secretary   Communist Party of China Wang Yang, Chairman of National CPPCC
You Quan, Head of the Department
Socialism with Chinese characteristics United Front October 1, 1949 71 years, 23 days
  Republic of Cuba Raúl Castro, First Secretary   Communist Party of Cuba Marxism-Leninism, Castroism January 1, 1959 61 years, 297 days
  Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Brahim Ghali, Secretary General   Polisario Front Sahrawi Nationalism, Social Democracy February 27, 1976 44 years, 240 days
  Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyễn Phú Trọng, General Secretary   Communist Party of Vietnam Trần Thanh Mẫn, Chairman Ho Chi Minh Thought Vietnamese Fatherland Front February 3, 1930 45 years, 177 days
  State of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki, Chairperson   People's Front for Democracy and Justice Eritrean Nationalism, Socialism February 10, 1994 26 years, 257 days

Former one-party statesEdit

Country Party Ideology Date of establishment Date of dissolution Continent
  Ottoman Empire Committee of Union and Progress 1913 1918 Asia/Europe
  Turkey   Republican People's Party Kemalism 1923 1946 Asia/Europe
  Mexico Institutional Revolutionary Party 1929 1988 North America
  Cameroon Cameroon People's Democratic Movement 1975 1990 Africa
  Tunisia Neo Destour 1963 1964 Africa
  Tunisia Socialist Destourian Party 1964 1981 Africa
  Turkmenistan Democratic Party of Turkmenistan 1992 2008 Asia
  China[Note 1]   Kuomintang Tridemism 1925 1996 Asia
  Syrian Republic Arab Liberation Movement 1953 1954 Asia
  Republic of Afghanistan National Revolutionary Party February 14, 1977[4][5] April 28, 1978 Asia
  Algeria National Liberation Front 1962 1989 Africa
  Bangladesh Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League 1974 1975 Asia
  Burma   Burma Socialist Programme Party 1962 1988 Asia
  Cape Verde African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde 1975 1980 Africa
  Cape Verde African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde 1980 1990 Africa
  Central African Republic Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa 1962 1980 Africa
  Djibouti People's Rally for Progress 1977 1992 Africa
  Equatorial Guinea United National Workers' Party 1970 1979 Africa
  Egypt Arab Socialist Union 1962 1976 Africa
  Eritrea Eritrean People's Liberation Front Left-wing nationalism 1991 (Provisional government)
1993 (Recognized state)
1994 Africa
  Ghana Convention People's Party 1964 1966 Africa
  Guinea Democratic Party of Guinea – African Democratic Rally 1958 1984 Africa
  Guinea-Bissau African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde 1974 1991 Africa
  Indonesia Indonesian National Party August 17, 1945 November 3, 1945 Asia
    Iraq Iraqi Arab Socialist Union 1964 1968 Asia
    Iraq   Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party (National Progressive Front) 1968 2003 Asia
  Libya Libyan Arab Socialist Union 1971 1977 Africa
  Democratic Republic of Madagascar National Front for the Defense of the Revolution 1976 1989 Africa
  Mali Sudanese Union – African Democratic Rally 1960 1968 Africa
  Mali Democratic Union of the Malian People 1976 1991 Africa
  Mauritania Mauritanian People's Party 1961 1978 Africa
  São Tomé and Príncipe Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe/Social Democratic Party 1975 1990 Africa
  Senegal Socialist Party of Senegal 1966 1974 Africa
  Seychelles Seychelles People's Progressive Front 1977 1991 Africa
  Sierra Leone All People's Congress 1978 1991 Africa
  Democratic Republic of the Sudan Sudanese Socialist Union 1971 1985 Africa
  Syria Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party (National Progressive Front) 1963 February 27, 2012[6][7] Asia
  Tanzania Chama Cha Mapinduzi 1977 1992 Africa
  Tanganyika Tanganyika African National Union 1961 1977 Africa
  Uganda Uganda People's Congress 1969 1971 Africa
  United Arab Republic National Union 1958 1961 Africa
  Xinjiang People's Anti-Imperialist Association 1935 1942 Asia
  Zambia United National Independence Party 1972 1990 Africa
  Zanzibar Afro-Shirazi Party 1964 1977 Africa
     Afghanistan   People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (National Fatherland Front) December 24, 1980 July 27, 1990 Asia
   Democratic Government of Albania Party of Labour of Albania (National Liberation Movement) October 20, 1944 August 5, 1945 Europe
   Democratic Government of Albania Party of Labour of Albania (Democratic Front) August 5, 1945 January 11, 1946 Europe
  Albania Party of Labour of Albania (Democratic Front) January 11, 1946 December 11, 1990 Europe
  People's Republic of Angola   People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola November 11, 1975 May 30, 1991 Africa
  Armenia Communist Party of Armenia December 2, 1920 December 30, 1922 Asia
      Azerbaijan Communist Party of Azerbaijan April 30, 1920 December 30, 1922 Asia
  Benin   People's Revolutionary Party of Benin November 30, 1975 March 1, 1990 Africa
     Bulgaria   Bulgarian Communist Party (Fatherland Front) September 15, 1946 January 15, 1990 Europe
  Byelorussia Communist Party of Byelorussia July 31, 1920 December 30, 1922 Europe
  Chinese Soviet Republic Communist Party of China 1930 1937 Asia
  Czechoslovakia   Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (National Front) Marxism–Leninism February 25, 1948 November 30, 1989 Europe
    East Germany   Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Democratic Bloc) October 7, 1949 March 30, 1950 Europe
    East Germany   Socialist Unity Party of Germany (National Front of the German Democratic Republic) March 30, 1950 December 1, 1989 Europe
  Estonia Russian Communist Party
(Central Committee of the Estonian Sections)
November 29, 1918 June 5, 1919 Europe
  Estonia Communist Party of Estonia July 21, 1940 August 9, 1940 Europe
  Ethiopia Workers' Party of Ethiopia September 12, 1984 February 22, 1987 Africa
  Ethiopia Workers' Party of Ethiopia February 22, 1987 April 28, 1991 Africa
  Georgia Communist Party of Georgia February 25, 1921 December 30, 1922 Asia
  Grenada New Jewel Movement March 13, 1979 October 25, 1983 Central America
Guangzhou Communist Party of China 1927 1927 Asia
Hunan Communist Party of China 1927 1927 Asia
    Hungary   Hungarian Working People's Party August 20, 1949 October 30, 1956 Europe
    Hungary Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party November 4, 1956 October 7, 1989 Europe
Jinggang Communist Party of China 1927 1928 Asia
   Kampuchea   Communist Party of Kampuchea April 17, 1975 June 22, 1982 Asia
   Kampuchea Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party January 7, 1979 October 23, 1991 Asia
  Latvia Communist Party of Latvia December 17, 1918 January 13, 1920 Europe
  Latvia Communist Party of Latvia July 21, 1940 August 5, 1940 Europe
     Mongolia Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party 1921 July 29, 1990 Asia
     Mozambique   FRELIMO June 25, 1975 December 1, 1990 Africa
  Vietnam (partially) Workers' Party of North Vietnam (League for the Independence of Vietnam) September 2, 1945 1946[citation needed] Asia
  North Vietnam Workers' Party of North Vietnam (Vietnamese Fatherland Front) 1955 July 2, 1976 Asia
  Lithuania Communist Party of Lithuania July 21, 1940 August 3, 1940 Europe
  Lithuania–Byelorussia Communist Party of Lithuania and Belorussia February 17, 1919 July 17, 1919 Europe
    People's Republic of the Congo Congolese Party of Labour January 31, 1969 1991 Africa
  Persia Communist Party of Persia 1920 1921 Asia
   Poland Polish United Workers' Party (Front of National Unity) Marxism–Leninism February 5, 1947 July 1982 Europe
   Poland Polish United Workers' Party (Patriotic Movement for National Rebirth) July 1982 August 24, 1989 Europe
     Romania   Romanian Communist Party (People's Democratic Front) February 5, 1948 1968 Europe
     Romania   Romanian Communist Party (Front of Socialist Unity) 1968 1980 Europe
     Romania   Romanian Communist Party (Front of Socialist Unity and Democracy) 1980 December 29, 1989 Europe
    Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russian Social Democratic Labour Party January 19, 1918 March 8, 1918[8] Europe/Asia
    Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russian Communist Party March 8, 1918[8] December 30, 1922 Europe/Asia
  Somalia Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party July 1976 January 26, 1991 Africa
  South Yemen   Yemeni Socialist Party October 31, 1978 May 22, 1990 Asia
Southwest Jiangxi Communist Party of China 1930 1931 Asia
       Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Russian Communist Party December 30, 1922 December 31, 1925[8] Europe/Asia
       Union of Soviet Socialist Republics All-Union Communist Party December 31, 1925[8] October 13, 1952[8] Europe/Asia
       Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Communist Party of the Soviet Union Marxism–Leninism October 13, 1952[8] October 9, 1990[9] Europe/Asia
  Transcaucasia Communist Part of Armenia March 12, 1922 December 30, 1922 Asia
  Transcaucasia Communist Party of Azerbaijan March 12, 1922 December 30, 1922 Asia
  Transcaucasia Communist Party of Georgia March 12, 1922 December 30, 1922 Asia
        Tuva Tuvan People's Revolutionary Party August 14, 1921 October 11, 1944 Asia
  Ukraine Communist Party of Ukraine March 10, 1919 December 30, 1922 Europe
Yan'an Communist Party of China 1937 1949 Asia
  Yemen   Yemeni Socialist Party May 21, 1994 July 7, 1994 Asia
    Yugoslavia League of Communists of Yugoslavia (Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia) Marxism–Leninism, Titoism, Yugoslavism November 29, 1945 April 8, 1990 Europe
  Hawaii Reform Party Americanisation, Annexationism 1894 1898 North America
  Brazilian military regime ARENA[Note 2] 1964 1979 South America
  Gabon Gabonese Democratic Party 1968 1990 Africa
  Ivory Coast Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire – African Democratic Rally 1960 1990 Africa
  Kingdom of Spain Spanish Patriotic Union 1924 1930 Europe
  Malawi Malawi Congress Party 1964 1993 Africa
  Iran Islamic Republican Party 1981 1987 Asia
  Niger National Movement for the Development of Society 1989 1991 Africa
  Albanian Kingdom   Albanian Fascist Party June 2, 1939 July 27, 1943 Europe
  Albanian Kingdom Guard of Greater Albania July 27, 1943 September 8, 1943 Europe
  Albanian Kingdom National Front September 14, 1943 November 29, 1943 Europe
  Federal State of Austria   Fatherland Front Clerical fascism May 1, 1934 March 13, 1938 Europe
   Republic of Burundi   Union for National Progress July 11, 1974 March 13, 1992 Africa
   Republic of Cameroon Cameroonian National Union September 1, 1966[10] March 24, 1985 Africa
  Central African Republic Central African Democratic Union March 1, 1980 September 2, 1981 Africa
  Central African Republic Central African Democratic Rally February 6, 1987 April 22, 1991[11] Africa
  Chad Chadian Progressive Party April 16, 1962 April 6, 1973 Africa
  Chad National Movement for the Cultural and Social Revolution April 6, 1973 April 13, 1975 Africa
  Chad National Union for Independence and Revolution 1984 1990 Africa
  Comoros Comorian Union for Progress 1982 1990 Africa
  Independent State of Croatia Ustaša – Croatian Revolutionary Movement April 10, 1941 May 8, 1945 Europe
  Dahomey Dahomeyan Unity Party 1961 1963 Africa
  Dahomey Dahomeyan Democratic Party 1963 1965 Africa
  Dominican Republic Dominican Party 1931 1961 Central America
  Egypt National Democratic Party 1956 1958 Africa
  Egypt National Democratic Party 1961 1962 Africa
  El Salvador National Pro Patria Party 1931 1944 South America
  Empire of Japan Imperial Rule Assistance Association 1940 1945 Asia
  Equatorial Guinea Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea 1987 1991 Africa
  Estonia Patriotic League (National Front for the Implementation of the Constitution) March 9, 1935 July 21, 1940 Europe
  Greater German Reich   National Socialist German Workers' Party Nazism July 14, 1933 May 23, 1945 Europe
  Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia National Partnership Nazism March 21, 1939 May 9, 1945 Europe
  Guatemala Progressive Liberal Party 1931 1944 South America
  Haiti National Unity Party 1957 1985 Central America
  Government of National Unity   Arrow Cross Party October 16, 1944 May 7, 1945 Europe
  India Communist Party of India October 21, 1943 August 18, 1945 Asia
  Imperial State of Iran Rastakhiz Party 1975 1978 Asia
  Kingdom of Italy   National Fascist Party Fascism May 17, 1928[12]
  • January 9, 1939
July 27, 1943 Europe
  • Africa
  Italian Social Republic   Republican Fascist Party Fascism September 13, 1943 April 28, 1945 Europe
  Kenya Kenya African National Union 1982 1991 Africa
  Lithuania Lithuanian Nationalist Union 1927 1940 Europe
  Manchukuo   Concordia Association April 1, 1932[13] May 1, 1945[13] Asia
  Reich Commissariat for the Occupied Dutch Territories   National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands Nazism December 14, 1941 May 6, 1945 Europe
  Niger Nigerien Progressive Party – African Democratic Rally 1960 1974 Africa
  North Yemen General People's Congress 1982 1988 Asia
  National Government   National Rally February 1, 1942 May 9, 1945 Europe
  Ottoman Empire Committee of Union and Progress 1913 1918 Asia/Europe
  Paraguay Colorado Party Conservatism, National Conservatism 1947 1962 South America
  Philippine Executive Commission   Association for Service to the New Philippines December 8, 1942 October 14, 1943 Asia
  Republic of the Philippines   Association for Service to the New Philippines October 14, 1943 August 17, 1945 Asia
  Portugal   National Union Salazarism, Corporatism July 30, 1930[14] October 8, 1945[14] Europe
  Portugal   National Union (from 1969, People's National Action) Salazarism, Corporatism January 31, 1948[15] April 25, 1974 Europe
  Romania   Party of the Nation Big Tent Nationalism December 16, 1938 September 6, 1940 Europe
    National Legionary State   Iron Guard Legionarism, Clerical Fascism September 6, 1940 January 23, 1941 Europe
  Rwanda Parmehutu 1965 1973 Africa
  Rwanda National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development 1978 1991 Africa
  San Marino Sammarinese Fascist Party 1926 1943 Europe
  San Marino Republican Fascist Party of San Marino 1943 1944 Europe
  Slovak Republic   Hlinka's Slovak People's Party – Party of Slovak National Unity Clerical Fascism March 14, 1939 May 8, 1945 Europe
  Spanish State   Falange Francoism, Falangism April 19, 1937 July 6, 1976[16] Europe
  Sudan National Congress Party 1989 2005 Africa
  Togo Party of Togolese Unity 1962 1963 Africa
  Togo Rally of the Togolese People 1969 1991 Africa
  Upper Volta Voltaic Democratic Union-African Democratic Rally 1960 1966 Africa
  Yugoslavia Yugoslav Radical Peasants' Democracy 1929 1931 Europe
  Zaire Popular Movement of the Revolution Mobutism 1970 1990 Africa

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The Republic of China controlled the mainland from 1912 to 1949 and the island of Taiwan since 1945, in which the ROC currently administers the Free area. This government served China in the United Nations from 1945 to 1971. See Political status of Taiwan and the One-China policy for various viewpoints.
  2. ^ Although there was an official democratic opposition, the MDB, ARENA was de facto the only governing party.


  1. ^ Clark, William Roberts; Golder, Matt; Golder, Sona Nadenichek (2012-03-23). Principles of Comparative Politics. SAGE. ISBN 9781608716791.
  2. ^ Cuba: Elections and Events 1991–2001 Archived 2007-03-01 at the Wayback Machine Latin American Election Statistics Home
  3. ^ "Vietnam's Party, State delegation visits DPRK". Nhân Dân. NDO/VNA. 10 September 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  4. ^ Afghanistan: A Country Study
  5. ^ Afghanistan 1977
  6. ^ "Presidential Decree on Syria's New Constitution". Syrian Arab News Agency. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  7. ^ Chulov, Martin (27 February 2012). "Syrian regime rockets bombard Homs". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f The Constitution of the Russian Federation: A Contextual Analysis By Jane Henderson
  9. ^ Ideology And Political System By Kundan Kumar
  10. ^ The Search for a Cameroonian Model of Democracy or the Search for the Domination of the State Party: 1966-2006
  11. ^ Central African Republic Unions Strike for Democracy 1990-1993
  12. ^ Mediterranean Fascism 1919–1945
  13. ^ a b China at War: Regions of China, 1937-1945
  14. ^ a b 12th Period - Second Republic of Portugal
  15. ^ Fascism and Resistance in Portugal: Communists, Liberals and Military
  16. ^ Law 21/1976, of June 14, on the Right of Political Association.

External linksEdit