Until 1974, the Portuguese suppressed movements and political parties that stood for self-determination and independence. The three leading political organizations at independence were the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola— MPLA), founded in 1956; the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola—FNLA), founded in 1962; and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Indepêndencia Total de Angola—UNITA), founded in 1966. The victory of the MPLA and Cuban forces brought recognition to the MPLA government by the OAU and by most non-African countries. The MPLA-Workers' Party (MPLA–Partido de Trabalho, or MPLA–PT), a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party, was created in December 1977. UNITA remained in de facto control of part of the country, while the remnants of the FNLA continued low-level guerrilla activity in the northwest, as did the Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave.
Some 18 parties and 11 presidential candidates contested the 1992 elections. In the presidential contest, the MPLA's Dos Santos won 49.6% of the presidential vote and UNITA's Savimbi got 40.1%, requiring a runoff. Though international observers considered the elections reasonably free and fair, Savimbi repudiated the results and refused to participate in a second round. In a generally free and fair contest, the MPLA took 53.7% of the vote (129 seats) to UNITA's 34.1% (70 seats). Also represented were the Angolan Democratic Forum (FDA), the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD), and the Angola Youth Worker, Peasant Alliance Party (PAJOCA). Separatist groups in Cabinda, such as the Frente Nacional de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda (FLEC) and the National Union for the Liberation of Cabinda (UNLC) did not take part in the national elections. They continue to wage a low-level armed struggle for the independence of oil-rich Cabinda province.
Opposition parties are extremely weak and fractured, and some have formed working relationships with the MPLA. UNITA Renovada is a splinter group having such a relationship with the ruling party.