The two major parties in Belize are the current majority United Democratic Party (UDP) and the People's United Party (PUP). The UDP, which has been the dominant party since 1993, increased its representation to 26 out of 29 legislative seats in the August 1998 elections, after which Said Musa succeeded Manuel Esquivel as party leader and prime minister. Although it won a sweeping victory in the 1997 municipal elections, the opposition PUP held only three elected seats at the national level as of 1999.
George C. Price dominated Belize's politics after becoming the country's premier in 1964. At independence in 1981, Price became prime minister and ruled for three years. The UDP coalition, under Esquivel's leadership, took 21 House seats in 1984 and ruled until 1989, when the PUP regained control and Price once again became prime minister. He called an early election in June 1993, which his party unexpectedly lost, placing the UDP in a dominant position. UDP increased its position in the subsequent 1998 and 2003 elections.