The Communist Party was declared illegal after the abortive August 1991 coup attempt, but was relegalized in February 1993. It and two other pro-Communist parties merged into one political party called the People's Movement of Belarus in May 1993. On the whole, political parties have not gathered the momentum evident in other former Soviet republics. None of the parties has had a large public following.
The parties with the greatest representation in the 260-member unicameral Supreme Council elected in 1995 were the Communist Party (42 seats) and the Agrarian Party (33). The Supreme Council was disbanded under the terms of the 1996 constitution and replaced with a bicameral legislature, for which the first elections were held in January 1997.
The primary pro-government party is the Belarussian Popular Patriotic Union, which supports President Lukashenko and the proposed union with Russia. As of 1999, the primary opposition party was the Belarussian Popular Front, whose chairman, Zyanon Paznyak, was in exile in the United States. Many of its other leaders had been jailed at various times. The Popular Front was one of three parties that organized the alternative presidential elections held in 1999 to protest the extension of President Lukashenko's term to 2001.
As of 2002, there were 18 political parties registered in Belarus. In the parliamentary elections held on 15 and 29 October 2000, the following parties won seats in the 110-member House of Representatives: Communist Party of Belarus, 6; Agrarian Party, 5; Republican Party of Labor and Justice, 2; Liberal-Democratic Party of Belarus, 1; Social-Democratic Party of Popular Accord, 1; Belarusian Socialist Sporting Party, 1. Eighty-one seats were won by independents, and 13 were vacant.