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.


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 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 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 Italy under Benito Mussolini)
  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 states

As of 2019 the following countries are legally constituted as one-party states:

Country Head of party Party Head of popular front 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] Democratic Front for the Reunification of Korea October 10, 1945 74 years, 52 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
United Front October 1, 1949 70 years, 61 days
Republic of Cuba Raúl Castro, First Secretary Communist Party of Cuba January 1, 1959 60 years, 334 days
State of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki, Chairperson People's Front for Democracy and Justice February 10, 1994 25 years, 294 days
Lao People's Democratic Republic Bounnhang Vorachith, General Secretary Lao People's Revolutionary Party Xaysomphone Phomvihane, President of the Standing Committee Lao Front for National Construction December 2, 1975 43 years, 364 days
Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyễn Phú Trọng, General Secretary Communist Party of Vietnam Trần Thanh Mẫn, Chairman Vietnamese Fatherland Front April 30, 1975 44 years, 215 days

As of 2019 the following countries are one-party states in practice:[4]

Country Head of party Party Head of popular front Popular Front Date of establishment Duration
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Brahim Ghali, Secretary-General Polisario Front February 27, 1976 43 years, 277 days

Former one-party states

Country Party Date of establishment Date of dissolution
 Turkey Republican People's Party 1923 1945
 Cameroon Cameroon People's Democratic Movement 1975 1990
 Tunisia Neo Destour 1963 1964
 Tunisia Socialist Destourian Party 1964 1981
 Turkmenistan Democratic Party of Turkmenistan 1992 2008
 Republic of China Kuomintang Mainland China: 1925
Taiwan: 1945
Mainland China: 1949
Taiwan: 1990
Syrian Republic Arab Liberation Movement 1953 1954
Republic of Afghanistan National Revolutionary Party 24/02/1977[5][6] 28/04/1978
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 1962 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
 Central African Republic Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa 1962 1980
 Djibouti People's Rally for Progress 1977 1992
 Equatorial Guinea United National Workers' Party 1970 1979
 Egypt Arab Socialist Union 1962 1976
 Eritrea Eritrean People's Liberation Front 1993 1994
Ethiopia Ethiopia
  • 1991
  • 1993
 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
 Indonesia Indonesian National Party 17 August 1945 3 November 1945
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
 Mali Democratic Union of the Malian People 1976 05/04/1991[7]
 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 2012
 Tanzania Chama Cha Mapinduzi 1977 1992
 Tanganyika Tanganyika African National Union 1961 1977
 Uganda Uganda People's Congress 1969 1971
 United Arab Republic National Union 1958 1961
Xinjiang People's Anti-Imperialist Association 1935 1942
 Zambia United National Independence Party 1972 1990
 Zanzibar Afro-Shirazi Party 1964 1977
Country Party Popular Front Date of establishment Date of dissolution
Afghanistan People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan National Fatherland Front December 24, 1980 July 27, 1990
Democratic Government of Albania Party of Labour of Albania National Liberation Movement October 20, 1944 August 5, 1945
Democratic Front August 5, 1945 January 11, 1946
People's Republic of Albania

People's Socialist Republic of Albania

January 11, 1946 December 11, 1990
Angola People's Republic of Angola People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola November 11, 1975 May 30, 1991
Armenia Communist Party of Armenia December 2, 1920 December 30, 1922
Azerbaijan Communist Party of Azerbaijan April 30, 1920 December 30, 1922
Benin Benin People's Revolutionary Party of Benin November 30, 1975 March 1, 1990
Bulgaria Bulgarian Communist Party Fatherland Front September 15, 1946 January 15, 1990
Byelorussia Communist Party of Byelorussia July 31, 1920 December 30, 1922
Chinese Soviet Republic Communist Party of China 1930 1937
Czechoslovak Socialist Republic Czechoslovakia Communist Party of Czechoslovakia National Front February 25, 1948 December 29, 1989
East Germany East Germany Socialist Unity Party of Germany Democratic Bloc October 7, 1949 March 30, 1950
National Front of Democratic Germany March 30, 1950 1973
National Front of the German Democratic Republic 1973 December 1, 1989
Estonia Russian Communist Party
(Central Committee of the Estonian Sections)
November 29, 1918 June 5, 1919
Estonia Communist Party of Estonia July 21, 1940 August 9, 1940
Ethiopia Workers' Party of Ethiopia September 12, 1984 February 22, 1987
Ethiopia Workers' Party of Ethiopia February 22, 1987 April 28, 1991
Georgia Communist Party of Georgia February 25, 1921 December 30, 1922
Grenada Grenada New Jewel Movement March 13, 1979 October 25, 1983
Guangzhou Communist Party of China 1927 1927
Hunan Communist Party of China 1927 1927
Hungary Hungarian Working People's Party August 20, 1949 October 30, 1956
Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party November 4, 1956 October 7, 1989
Jinggang Communist Party of China 1927 1928
Kampuchea Communist Party of Kampuchea April 17, 1975 June 22, 1982
Kampuchea Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party January 7, 1979 October 23, 1991
Latvia Communist Party of Latvia December 17, 1918 January 13, 1920
Latvia Communist Party of Latvia July 21, 1940 August 5, 1940
Mongolia Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party 1921 July 29, 1990
Mozambique FRELIMO June 25, 1975 December 1, 1990
North Vietnam North Vietnam Workers' Party of North Vietnam League for the Independence of Vietnam September 2, 1945 1946
Vietnamese National Popular Front 1951 1955
Vietnamese Fatherland Front 1955 July 2, 1976
Lithuania Communist Party of Lithuania July 21, 1940 August 3, 1940
Lithuania–Byelorussia Communist Party of Lithuania and Belorussia February 17, 1919 July 17, 1919
Republic of the Congo People's Republic of the Congo Congolese Party of Labour January 31, 1969 June 1991
Persia Communist Party of Persia May 1920 September 1921
Poland Polish United Workers' Party Front of National Unity February 5, 1947 July 1982
Patriotic Movement for National Rebirth July 1982 August 24, 1989
Romania Romanian Communist Party People's Democratic Front February 5, 1948 1968
Front of Socialist Unity 1968 1980
Front of Socialist Unity and Democracy 1980 December 29, 1989

Soviet Russian Republic

Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic

Russian Social Democratic Labour Party January 19, 1918 March 8, 1918[8]
Russian Communist Party March 8, 1918[8] December 30, 1922
Somalia Somalia Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party July 1976 January 26, 1991
People's Democratic Republic of Yemen South Yemen Yemeni Socialist Party October 31, 1978 May 22, 1990
Southwest Jiangxi Communist Party of China 1930 1931
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Russian Communist Party December 30, 1922 December 31, 1925[8]
All-Union Communist Party December 31, 1925[8] October 13, 1952[8]
Communist Party of the Soviet Union October 13, 1952[8] October 9, 1990[9]
Transcaucasia Communist Part of Armenia March 12, 1922 December 30, 1922
Communist Party of Azerbaijan March 12, 1922 December 30, 1922
Communist Party of Georgia March 12, 1922 December 30, 1922
Tuva Tuvan People's Revolutionary Party August 14, 1921 October 11, 1944
Ukraine Communist Party of Ukraine March 10, 1919 December 30, 1922
Yan'an Communist Party of China 1937 1949
Yemen Yemeni Socialist Party May 21, 1994 July 7, 1994
Yugoslavia League of Communists of Yugoslavia Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia November 29, 1945 April 8, 1990
Country Party Date of establishment Date of dissolution
Hawaii Reform Party 1894 1898
Brazil Brazilian military regime ARENA[Note 1] 1964 1979 (one-party system)
1985 (entire regime)
 Gabon Gabonese Democratic Party 1968 1990
Kingdom of Spain Spanish Patriotic Union 1924 1930
 Malawi Malawi Congress Party 1964 1993
 Iran Islamic Republican Party 1981 1987
 Niger National Movement for the Development of Society 1989 1991
Country Party National front Date of establishment Date of dissolution
Albanian Kingdom Albanian Fascist Party 02/06/1939 27/07/1943
Guard of Greater Albania 27/07/1943 08/09/1943
Albanian Kingdom National Front 14/09/1943 29/11/1944
Federal State of Austria Fatherland Front 01/05/1934 13/03/1938
Republic of Burundi Union for National Progress 11/07/1974 13/03/1992
Republic of Cameroon Cameroonian National Union 01/09/1966[10] 24/03/1985
Central African Republic Central African Democratic Union 01/03/1980 02/09/1981
Central African Democratic Rally 06/02/1987 22/04/1991[11]
Republic of Chad Chadian Progressive Party 16/04/1962 06/04/1973
National Movement for the Cultural and Social Revolution 06/04/1973 13/04/1975
National Union for Independence and Revolution 1984 1990
 Comoros Comorian Union for Progress 1982 1990
Independent State of Croatia Ustaša – Croatian Revolutionary Movement 10/04/1941 08/05/1945
Dahomey Dahomeyan Unity Party 1961 1963
Dahomeyan Democratic Party 1963 1965
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Dominican Party 1931 1961
 Egypt National Democratic Party 1956 1958
1961 1962
El Salvador El Salvador National Pro Patria Party 1931 1944
 Equatorial Guinea Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea 1987 1991
Republic of Estonia Patriotic League National Front for the Implementation of the Constitution 09/03/1935 21/07/1940
German Reich

Greater German Reich

National Socialist German Workers' Party 14/07/1933
  • 21/03/1939
  • 09/05/1945
Guatemala Guatemala Progressive Liberal Party 1931 1944
Haiti Haiti National Unity Party 1957 1985
Hungary Arrow Cross Party 16/10/1944 07/05/1945
India Azad Hind Dal 21/10/1943 18/08/1945
Iran Imperial State of Iran Rastakhiz Party 1975 1978
Kingdom of Italy National Fascist Party 17/05/1928[12]
  • 09/01/1939
  • 27/07/1943
Italian Social Republic Republican Fascist Party 13/09/1943 28/04/1945
 Ivory Coast Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire – African Democratic Rally 1960 1990
 Kenya Kenya African National Union 1982 1991
Lithuania Lithuania Lithuanian Nationalist Union 1927 1940
Manchukuo Concordia Association 01/04/1932[13] 01/05/1945[13]
Reich Commissariat for the Occupied Dutch Territories National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands 14/12/1941 06/05/1945
 Niger Nigerien Progressive Party – African Democratic Rally 1960 1974
 North Yemen General People's Congress 1982 1988
Nazi Germany Norway National Gathering 01/02/1942 09/05/1945
Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire Committee of Union and Progress 1913 1918
Paraguay Paraguay Colorado Party 1947 1962
Philippine Executive Commission Association for Service to the New Philippines 08/12/1942 14/10/1943
Republic of the Philippines Association for Service to the New Philippines 14/10/1943 17/08/1945
Portugal Portugal National Union 30/07/1930[14] 08/10/1945[14]
31/01/1948[15] 25/04/1974
Romania Romania National Renaissance Front 16/12/1938 21/06/1940
Party of the Nation 21/06/1940 06/09/1940
Iron Guard 14/09/1940 23/01/1941
 Rwanda Parmehutu 1965 1973
National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development 1978 1991
San Marino San Marino Sammarinese Fascist Party 1926 1943
Republican Fascist Party of San Marino 1943 1944
Slovak Republic Hlinka's Slovak People's Party – Party of Slovak National Unity 14/03/1939 08/05/1945
Spanish State Falange 19/04/1937 06/07/1976[16]
 Sudan National Congress Party 1989 2005
 Togo Party of Togolese Unity 1962 1963
Rally of the Togolese People 1969 1991
Republic of Upper Volta Upper Volta Voltaic Democratic Union-African Democratic Rally 1960 1966
Yugoslavia Yugoslav Radical Peasants' Democracy 1929 1931
Zaire Zaire Popular Movement of the Revolution 1970 1990

See also