List of political parties in Angola

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The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has ruled Angola since independence in 1975. From 1975 to 1991, it was the sole legally existing party in a political system inspired by the model then practised by the socialist countries of Eastern Europe. Since 1991/1992, a multiparty system exists, where the MPLA has been dominant because of the majority it won in the 1992 parliamentary and presidential elections. In the latter, it failed to obtain the required absolute majority for its candidate, José Eduardo dos Santos, and according to the constitution, a second round would have been necessary. The outbreak of the Angolan Civil War made this impossible, and José Eduardo dos Santos exercised presidential functions without a legal basis. For the same reason, the regular parliamentary elections stipulated by the constitution did not take place, and the parliament elected in 1992 remained in place for 16 years. While large sections of the interior were for years controlled by the armed forces of the rival movement National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) under the leadership of Jonas Savimbi, UNITA's elected MPs were a regular part of the parliament, and for some years a government of national unity, led by the MPLA, also included members from the UNITA as well as from the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), the third movement that had fought the independence war against Portuguese colonial rule.

In total, in 1992 as well as in 2008, the year of the second parliamentary elections, there were more than 120 registered political parties; only a handful had national constituencies, and only a few of them succeeded in having MPs elected for the National Assembly; see Elections in Angola. After the 2008 elections, all parties that had not succeeded in electing MPs were by law considered as automatically dissolved. Most of them are by now (2011) effectively defunct, while others re-emerged under different names, and still others are still in the process of deciding about their future.

Current parties

Major parties

English name Portuguese name Founded Leader
National Liberation Front of Angola Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola FNLA 1961 Ngola Kabangu
National Union for the Total Independence of Angola União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola UNITA 1966 Isaías Samakuva
Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola MPLA 1958 José Eduardo dos Santos

These three parties are outcomes of the three nationalist movements that fought the anti-colonial war against Portugal, 1961 to 1974, and then fought each other in the decolonisation conflict, 1974–75, and the civil war, 1975–2002. While the MPLA became a political party at independence, in 1975, the two others acquired this status in 1991, on the basis of the democratic constitution adopted at that stage. In the 1992 parliamentary elections, the MPLA obtained an absolute majority (53%), but the FNLA, and particularly UNITA, also conquered substantial numbers of seats—keeping the newly formed parties at a distance. However, in the 2008 elections the victory of the MPLA (82%) was overwhelming, so that UNITA (10%) was reduced to the category of a smaller party, and the FNLA (1%) to almost nothing. The political weight of UNITA still is such that it has to be considered as a major player in the field. The weight of the FNLA is considerably more limited, because of years of infighting (Ngola Kabangu contending for leadership with Lucas Ngonda), and the 2010s will tell whether or not it is capable of recovering some of its former importance.

Smaller parties

NB: Only the ND-UE (2) and the PRS (3) have MPs in the National Assembly elected in 2008.

Defunct parties

NB: With the exception of FpD (now refunded as Democratic Forum (see above), these were not organizations constituted as political parties in terms of the 1991 constitution, and thus did not take part in the 1992 or 2008 election.

See also

Further reading

The recent report by the Chr. Michelsen Institute on political opposition parties and the upcoming 2008 parliamentary elections is probably the most relevant and authoritative source on Angolan political parties. The study is based on interviews with party officials, newspaper articles and a review of the few reports available on politics and political parties in Angola. Access the CMI report.

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