Traditionally, Kiribati had no formally organized parties. Instead, ad hoc opposition groups tended to coalesce around specific issues. There were no formally constituted political parties until 1985, when opponents of the Soviet fishing agreement founded the Christian Democratic party, headed by Dr. Harry Tong. The Christian Democrats, now known as the Maneaban te Mauri party, led by President Teburoro Tito, won 14 seats in the September 1998 parliamentary elections, and the principal opposition party, Boutokaan te Koaua, won 11; 14 seats were won by independents. In the elections held in November and December 2002, Boutokaan te Koaua took 17 seats in parliament, Tito's Maneaban te Mauri took 16, and independents held 7 seats.
Other parties that formed after 1991 included the Liberal Party; the New Movement Party; and the Health Peace and Honour Party. Today, the only recognizable parties are the Maneaban te Mauri Party and the Boutokaan te Koaua Party.