Features of One-Party State

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Features of One Party State, System / Single Party State

Single party system or One Party State may be defined as one in which only one legal and legitimate political party is constitutionally recognised in the country. No other party is recognised and can therefore not exist.

One Party State
One Party System

One-party system is a common feature of communist or socialist countries. Examples are; North Korea, Cuba and China. In Africa, Malawi, Kenya, Zambia, etc, were formerly one party states.

Features of One-Party State or Single Party System

The main characteristics of one party state may be summarized as follows:

  • There is a dominant political party, which may be totalitarian or monolithic. It is totalitarian if there is only one officially recognized party as in the former Soviet Union. Totalitarian parties are concerned with the total restructuring of society.

On the other hand, the monolithic party is a party, which is nearly always associated with the name of one man. For example, the Convention People’s Party of Ghana was associated with Kwame Nkrumah.

  • Party competition may be allowed but one party comes to overshadow all the other parties. For example, the Congress Party was the sole governing party at the national level in India from the time of independence in 1947 until when the Janarta Party formed the government in the mid 1980s.

Numerous other parties existed and they were allowed to freely compete with the dominant party, even taking control of many of the Indian states. In October 1969, Kenya banned the only opposition party (the Kenya People’s Union) yet she refused to officially declare a one party state. But Kenya is a multi-party state today.

  • The parties in the one party system are generally organs of government rather than a voluntary association of voters.
  • The dominant political party may have come to power through (a) revolutionary means, (b) armed struggle or (c) elections.
  • Regardless of how they come to power, it is quite unusual for the dominant party to be voted out of power.
  • Autocratic leaders are usually removed from power through {a} military coups (as in Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana) or {b} popular agitation and revolt as in Rwanda in 1994.
  • The main objective of one party system is either the restructuring of society or the integration of divisive elements in society.
  • In a single party system, especially the totalitarian type, there is a complete control over all aspects of social, economic and political activity.
  • There is a dominant ideology which guides the action of political leaders.
  • The recruitment of political leaders is through the ruling party.
  • There is no official opposition.
  • The collapse of socialism in the former Soviet Union and other East European states in the early 1990s and the insistence of the international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank on political liberalization have combined to destroy the one party system.
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