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25 Most Ruthless Political Parties to Ever Hold Power

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Political parties should be the representation of the people to the government. However, there are times when their goals for power, idealism and greed take precedence while relegating the concerns of the people to the backseat. It can also become callous when opposing parties use the people as pawns in their struggles. Here are the 25 most ruthless political parties to ever hold power and the effect that their policies had on the world.

25. Nationalist Socialist German Worker’s Party (NAZI) Party

When Austrian-born dictator Adolf Hitler became the leader of the Nationalist Socialist German Worker’s Party (Nazi) from 1934 to 1945, he promoted nationalism, anti-communism, and anti-Semitism as he established a Fascist dictatorship in Germany and adopted a foreign policy of world conquest. His racial suppression led to the death of an estimated 6 million Jews, not including several other groups of people and his political opponents.

24. Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU)

The major political party of Russia and the Soviet Union, it replaced the Bolsheviks wing of the Russian Democratic Worker’s Party under the reign of Vladimir Lenin from 1898 to 1917. It adopted Stalinism however from 1917 to the 1980s under the reign of Joseph Stalin. Since then, it became the monolithic, monopolistic ruling party that dominated the political, cultural, social and economic lives of millions of Russians. The constitution and all the legal documents that supposedly controlled the government were all controlled by the CPSU. When Mikhail Gorbachev ruled the Comintern from 1985 to 1991, it weakened the political party’s power as he implemented reforms in the country’s economic and political structure, which eventually led to its demise in 1991.

23. National Fascist Party

The Nationalist Fascist Party was created by Benito Mussolini in October 1922 as a Fascist movement following the ‘March on Rome.’ When he became the 27th Prime Minister of Italy, he destroyed all political oppositions through his secret police and outlawed labor strikes. Mussolini and his followers from the Nationalist Fascist Party merged their power through a succession of laws that converted the nation into a one-party dictatorship. He seized total power as a dictator in 1926 and ruled Italy as its “Il Duce” (“the leader”) from 1930 until his ouster in 1943.

22. FET y de las JONS

Also known as the ‘National Movement’ or ‘Nacionales,’ this is a single-party authoritarian rule from 1945 that continued on in Spain until Franco’s death in 1975. Under Franco’s regime, 270,000 men and women were held in prisons while some 500,000 fled into exile after the Spanish Civil War. Those who were captured were returned to Spain or interned in Nazi concentration camps. The first years of the dictatorship from 1940-1942 alone saw the death of 200,000 Spaniards from political repression, diseases and hunger.

21. Communist Party of China (CCP)

Founded in July 1921 after a lengthy civil war between the CPC and the Kuomintang (KMT), the CCP assumed full control in 1949 when Mao Zedong decreed the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, the only global superpower still ruled by a Communist Party, under a one-party socialist state. It maintained a unitary government that centralized the state, military, and media although it should nominally exist alongside the United Front, a coalition of governing political parties. Though its legal power is guaranteed by the national constitution, it stands above the law due to the Party’s Leninist roots. Though the ‘Great Leap Forward’ from 1958 to 1961 saw the modernization and industrialization of the country, it has also resulted to widespread famine.

20. Kuomintang (KMT)

Also known as the Nationalist Party, it was led by Chiang Kai-shek after the death of its former leader Sun Yat-sen in 1925. As a socially conservative leader, Chang Kai-shek promoted traditional Chinese culture in his ‘New Life Movement’ while rejecting western democracy and the nationalistic democratic socialism that Sun Yat-sen and other KMT leaders embraced. After their defeat with the CPC in 1949, he formed a nationalist authoritarian government in Taiwan where they were forced to retreat and imposed martial law in the era known as the “White Terror”.

19. Worker’s Party of Korea

Also known as the Korean Worker’s Party (KWP), this has been the ruling party of North Korea since its founding by its leader Kim Il-sung. Its first five-year rule was dominated by the Korean War when Kim Il-sung invaded South Korea in 1950, though he almost succeeded in overrunning the entire peninsula if not for UN and American interventions.

18. Communist Party of Vietnam

Established by Ho Chi Minh in 1925 as a preparation for a revolutionary struggle against the colonial French occupation of the country, it gained prominence when his subordinates (mostly Viet Congs) imprisoned 2,500 non-communist nationalists and forced 6,000 more to flee while Ho was traveling outside the country. Hundreds of political opponents, including members of the National Party of Vietnam and Dai Viet National Party were jailed or exiled in July 1946 after a failed coup against the Vietminh government. Aside from banning the formation of all rival political parties, local governments were also purged to minimize opposition.

17. Communist Party of Kampuchea

Also known as the ‘Khmer Communist Party,’ it was led by Pol Pot (Saloth Sar), a Communist revolutionary. His followers were known as the ‘Khmer Rouge’ (Red Khmers). Though it was underground for most of its existence, it took power in 1975 and established the Democratic Kampuchea state. Under Pol Pot’s three-year premiership, an estimated 3 million people out of the country’s 8 million population perished from combined effects of executions, malnutrition, poor medical care and forced labor as city dwellers were displaced to the countryside to work in communal farms. The party lost its power in 1979 when the leftists, dissatisfied with Pol Pot’s regime, established the People’s Republic of Kampuchea.

16. Golkar

Also known as the ‘Party of the Functional Groups,’ it rose to power in Indonesia when it became the governing bloc during Suharto’s New Order regime from 1966 to 1999. After 1973, Suharto banned all political parties excluding the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and the United Development Party (PPP), which were allowed to oppose Golkar. However, Golkar only permitted a semblance of competition as the state controlled the only television station in Indonesia and elections were just ritualized performance of choice as local authorities were subject to the directives of the Golkar’s electoral results through a system of reward, violence and punishment meted out by the thugs hired by Golkar.

15. United Russia

A centrist political party, which was founded in December 2001 as a merger among the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia parties, it is now the leading and largest political party in Russia. As a ‘Russian conservative party,’ it is associated with President and former Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Due to his favoritism and partiality, the current system of government has been given the negative label of “Putinism”.

14. Libyan Arab Socialist Union

Also known as the Arab Socialist Union of Libya, this party was founded by Muammar Gaddafi based on its Egyptian counterpart by Gamal Abdel Nasser. When Gaddafi seized power with the ‘Free Officers Movement,’ he made the Libyan ASU the sole legal party in Libya and became a vehicle of national expression rather than a political party. Bent on pushing Libya to socialism, he nationalized the country’s oil industry and used the revenues to boost the military, execute social programs, and fund revolutionary groups all over the world.

13. National Progressive Front

The Nationalist Progressive Front was supposedly a “joint coalition” among the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, the Kurdistan Revolutionary Party and the Iraqi Communist Party. The Iraqi Communist Party, however, was removed in 1979 while the Kurdish Democratic Party suffered restrictions when Saddam Hussein came into power. This ensured the leading role of the Ba’athists in state and society while limiting sovereignty of other participating parties faithful to the government. The Iraqi Communist Party, despite its entry to the NDF, suffered the most from repression including the arrests of its factory members, execution within the armed forces, and strong censorship of its daily newspaper. By 1979, its leadership was either arrested or in exile, which led the party to formally withdraw in 1980.

12. Kilusang Bagong Lipunan

The “New Society Movement” of the Philippines was formed in 1978 as an “umbrella” coalition of different parties including the Nacionalista and Liberal Parties, which supported then-President Ferdinand Marcos during the National Assembly. As the political vehicle of Marcos during his rule, it led to Proclamation No. 1081, which declared martial law on September 22, 1972. This was to be a prelude to his “Bagong Lipunan” or a “New Society” based on new social and political values. Justified by the exaggerating threats of Communist and Muslim insurgencies, he curtailed press freedom and other civil rights, closed down Congress, and ordered the arrests of all the opposition leaders.

11. Progressive Action Party

Fulgencio Batista became the elected President of Cuba from 1940 to 1944under the Democratic Socialist Coalition, but later became a dictator from 1952 to 1959 under the Progressive Action Party as a result of the Cuban Revolution. Facing defeat in the election in 1952, he led a military coup, which forced the nation under his dictatorial rule. Aside from suspending the 1940 constitution and repressing most political liberties, including the right to strike, his corrupt regime exploited Cuba’s commercial interests by negotiating with the American Mafia, controlling the gambling, drug, and prostitution businesses in Havana, and dealing with multinational American corporations. His anti-communist secret police carried out widespread violence, public executions and tortures leading to the death of more than 20,000 people.

10. ZANU Political Party

Robert Mugabe served as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and became the first executive head of state when he won the election in 1987. However, in the year 2000 Mugabe and his governmental body, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) Party gained international attention when it embarked on a controversial fast-track land reform program. Though it was intended to right the inequitable land distribution brought about by colonial rule, it led to the deterioration of the country’s economic situation. The often violent land seizure drew criticisms from the British and American governments, which resulted in wide range of sanctions imposed on Mugabe and his party.

9. Romanian Communist Party

This party emerged as a powerful player in the political scene of Romania in August 1944 when a Royal coup toppled the pro-Nazi government of Ion Atonescu. From then on, this was the only legally permitted party in the country, which only ended when its General Secretary Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife were executed after the December 1989 revolution.

8. Communist Party of Uzbekistan

The party, under the rule of Islam Karimov from June 23, 1989 to December 29, 1991, has become an absolute authoritarian party with little to no civil society support. Though the state’s primary claims to legitimacy were its stance on anti-Islamism and ethnic identity, the authoritarian measures that were implemented included the repression of alternative political parties from coalition building.

7. Bulgarian Communist Party

A communist and Marxist-Leninist governing bloc of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, it rose to power in 1946 but ended in 1990 when the country ceased to be a communist state. Its founding leaders and succeeding leaders were opposed to World War I but were sympathetic to the October Revolution in Russia. As the party joined the Cominform party in its inception in 1948, they conducted expulsions to all suspected “Titoites,” following the exclusion of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia from the alliance. They also imprisoned suspected counter-revolutionaries outside the party.

6. Congress for Democracy and Progress

The ruling government party in Burkina Faso, it was founded by Blaise Compaore on October 15, 1987 in a coup that took the life of his predecessor, Thomas Sankara. He won the election in 1991 and was re-elected in 1998, 2005, and 2010. He started a triumvirate with Henri Zongo and Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani, but they were later tried and executed for planning to overthrow the government. Compaore’s rule ended on April 14, 2011 in a mutiny by his military guards over unpaid allowances.

5. Popular Movement of the Revolution

This one-party system was established on May 20, 1967 by then-President Joseph-Desire Mobutu (Mobutu Sese Seko) after leading a coup against the nationalist government of Patrice Lumumba. After establishing a presidential form of government in 1967, with him as its president, he created his program of “national authenticity” where he changed the name of Congo to Zaire in 1971 and then changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko. The party system that he founded from 1965 to 1997 gave him political control over the country and also led him to amass huge personal wealth from economic exploitation and corruption as he attempted to purge the country of all colonial rule while maintaining his anti-communist stance.

4. National Resistance Movement

Also popularly known as the “Movement”, it catapulted Yoweri Museveni to power after the party’s military wing, the National Resistance Army (NRA), overthrew Tito Okello on January 25, 1986. The party then embarked on a Marxist-oriented approach to the government as it established a ‘no-party democracy,’ the framework of military control, and local resistance councils. Though Museveni was lauded as part of the ‘new generation of African leaders,’ his tenure was marred by controversies particularly the Second Congo War, which caused the death of 5.4 million people and other conflicts in the Great Lakes region including the recent abolition of the presidential term limits and harassment of Democratic opposition.

3. Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR

A faction of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, it became the ruling bloc when Saparmurat Niyazov led it in 1985. He later renamed it to the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan in 1991 after the country’s independence from the Soviet Union. The Communist Party of Turkmenistan was made illegal during his term and still remains banned until now. Niyazov was widely criticized as “one of the world’s most totalitarian and repressive dictators” due to the eccentricities he imposed in his country, which included renaming months from Russian-borrowed words after members of his family.

2. National Congress Party

The governing party of Sudan, was headed by Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan since June 30, 1989, who institutionalized Sharia Law at a national level. Following the ideologies of Pan-Arabism, Islamism, conservatism and nationalism, he was widely criticized for attempting to create a totalitarian state in the course of extreme Islamic and dictatorial government. Al-Bashir gained notoriety when he was charged for genocide in July 2008 in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur, which resulted in the death of 200,000 to 400,000 people.

1. Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC)

Somalia was the model of democracy in Africa since its independence in 1960, but the Siad Barre-led military junta, which became the governing body of Somalia from 1969 to 1991, led to social problems that the government failed to eradicate. Clanism and conflicts among extended family loyalties, volunteer labor, nationalization of banks and businesses, and promotion of cooperative farms were problems that besieged the country since the ruling party drew heavily from the traditions of China. The SRC ceased to exist when it was eventually forced from power in the 1990s by an alliance of armed opposition groups.

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