Political parties in PNG lack ideological conviction and rely almost exclusively on patronage politics, personalism, and regional bases. Several parties have emerged in Papua New Guinean politics. In the House of Assembly elected in 1973, the Pangu Pati, headed by Michael Somare, formed a coalition government with the People's Progress Party, and Somare became prime minister. Opposition parties at the time were the United Party, which maintains a strong following in the Highlands, and the Papua Besena Party, which stands for the secession of Papua from Papua New Guinea and has had fluctuating support even on its home ground.
Generally, party allegiances have been fluid, with regional and tribal politics impacting greatly on political events. The People's Democratic Movement, formed in 1985 by dissident members of the Pangu Pati, won 18 seats in the 1987 elections, while the Pangu Pati captured 25. Parties that participated in the 1997 elections were the Pangu Pati, People's National Congress, the People's Progress Party, and the People's Democratic Movement. In April 1998, Skate announced the formation of a new political alliance; the Papua New Guinea First Party led by his People's National Congress Party. More than 40 parties registered to participate in the June 2002 elections. In those elections, Michael Somare's National Alliance Party took 19 seats, and formed a 13-party coalition. Former Prime Minister Mekere Morauta's People's Democratic Movement took 13 seats.