Political parties have not played an important role in Libya's history. All political parties were banned in 1947 by British administrators, but many groups soon emerged to debate their country's future. By 1949, the Tripolitanian National Congress Party, led by Bashir Sadawi, was the leading party. However, it was dissolved in 1952, following local disorders, after Libya's first election campaign.
In 1971, the RCC founded the Libyan Arab Socialist Union as an alternative to political parties. It was viewed as an organization to promote national unity but has functioned little since 1977. Seven exiled opposition groups agreed in Cairo in January 1987 to form a joint working group, but their work had no discernible impact on political conditions in Libya. The following groups have been in opposition to the government: Fighting Islamic Group, Islamic Martyrs' Movement, Libyan Baathist Party, Libyan Conservatives' Party, Libyan Democratic Movement, Libyan Democratic Authority, Libyan Democratic Conference, Libyan Movement for Change and Reform, Libyan National Alliance, Movement of Patriotic Libyans, National Front for the Salvation of Libya, Libya Islamic Group and Supporters of God.