Since achieving independence from the United Kingdom in 1976, the Seychelles political scene has been dominated by the intense competition between 2 political parties and personalities, the right-centrist Seychelles Democratic Party (SDP) and the leftist Seychelles People's United Party (SPUP). Immediately after independence, Sir James Mancham of the SDP became the first president and France Albert Rene of the SPUP became prime minister. The coalition unraveled after a 1977 coup by Rene that forced Mancham into exile. In 1979, the constitution of 1976 was replaced by a significantly revised one that replaced the multiparty system with a one-party state. The SPUP, renamed to the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF), became the only political party in the country. Rene was elected president in 1979 and survived several coup attempts. In a dramatic political turn, the one-party political system was abandoned in 1992 under a new constitution that restored multiparty rule and saw Mancham return from exile to lead the SDP once more. Support of the SDP gradually declined with the rise of another opposition party, the Seychelles National Party (SNP, formerly the United Opposition), led by Wavel Ramkalawan. In elections for the 35-seat legislature in 1998, the SPPF won 61.7 percent of the vote, SNP won 26.1 percent, and the SDP won only 12.1 percent. Rene also won reelection as president. Despite this political tumult, elections and transitions of power have been peaceful.
Under President Rene, Seychelles introduced a socialist economy with state control over economic activities and 5-year national development plans, though the government also sought financial assistance from England and France. The main aims of the government policy were the diversification of the national economy, development of agricultural and manufacturing industries, the production of goods for domestic consumption and for export, and increase of hard currency . Most tax revenues in the Seychelles are derived from the net income or profit of a business. This tax is paid by resident and non-resident business owners on a graduated scale that ranges from 0 percent of the first SRe24,000 of income up to 40 percent of higher levels of income. Imported products, including alcohol and cigarettes, are also taxed. In 1998 trade taxes accounted for 44 percent of total revenues.