Before the 1990s, the only political party was the Communist Party, which was founded in 1941 and has been known officially as the Workers Party (Partija e Punes) since 1948. As of November 1986, it had about 147,000 members, as compared with 45,382 in 1948. The Albanian Democratic Front was the party's major subsidiary organization; other subsidiary groups included the Union of Albanian Working Youth and the Women's Union of Albania.
Under the 1976 constitution, the first secretary of the Workers Party was commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The constitution described the Workers Party as the "sole directing political power in state and society."
The primary political parties include the Democrats (led by Sali Berisha), a Western-style conservative party; the Democratic Alliance, a breakaway group of Democrats still largely allied with them; the Socialists (led by Fatos Nano), composed largely of former Communist Party members; and the Social Democrats, a Western-style progressive party largely allied with the socialists.
Although in the early years of post-Communist Albania there were genuine ideological differences between the parties, such distinctions have now blurred. Even the Socialist Party, composed largely of former Communists, has called for budget cuts and an IMF-backed austerity program. As of the election of 24 June 2001, seats in the unicameral National Assembly were distributed as follows: Socialist Party of Albania (PSS), 73; the Democratic Party-led Union for Victory, 46 (alliance composed of the Democratic Party of Albania, the Movement of Legality Party, the Party of the Albanian National Front, the Republican Party of Albania, and the Liberal Democratic Union); Democratic Party, 6; Social Democratic Party of Albania, 4; Union for Human Rights, 3; Party of the Democratic Alliance of Albania, 3; Albanian-Agrarian Party, 3; and independents, 2.