The Antigua Labor Party (ALP) has held power since 1946, except for a period from 1971 to 1976, when the Progressive Labor Movement (PLM), led at the time by George H. Walter, held a parliamentary majority. Lester Bird, leader of the ALP, has served as prime minister since March 1994, when he inherited the party leadership from his father, Vere Bird. The party's preeminence continued after independence with electoral victories in 1984, 1989, 1994, and 1999. Other active political parties in 2003 include: the United Progressive Party, led by Baldwin Spencer, and the Barbuda's People's Movement, a coalitions of three small opposition political parties.
The ALP grew out of a trade union movement in the 1940s. Under colonial supervision and tutelage, the party became the dominant force in national politics.