Path: ICPP > ICPP 1980 > List of Countries --> Togo
Kenneth Janda
Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey
New York: The Free Press, 1980: pp. 943-944
TOGO: The Party System in 1950-1958 and 1959-1962
(Text as published in 1980 citation above)

Following World War I, the former German colony Togoland was divided into two trust territories by the League of Nations and administered by France in the east and Great Britain in the west. After World War II, the mandate arrangement continued under the United Nations, with the western part being administered by the British as part of the Gold Coast, later to become part of Ghana. In 1955, the French parliament passed a statute providing for an autonomous republic of Togo within the French Union. Although this status was approved by Togolese voters in an October 1956 referendum, the United Nations refused to end the trusteeship status of the territory. Under the statute, however, Togo had internal autonomy, while control of defense, foreign affairs, and currency remained with France. Nicholas Grunitzky became Togo's first prime minister in 1956. Following U.N.-supervised elections in April 1958 the Comité d 1'Unité Togolaise (CUT) won control of the National Assembly, and Sylvanus Olympio became prime minister. Later that year, the French announced that full independence would be soon granted.

Although Togo did not become a sovereign nation until April 1960, the year 1958 marks the end of the first half of our time period for Togolese party politics, for significant changes in the party alignment occurred beginning with 1959. CUT remained the dominant force throughout our time period, although in 1959 it lost support of its youth organization, JUVENTO, which spun off as a party itself but enjoyed no legislative representation during our time period. The Parti Togolais de Progrés (PTP) and Union des Chefs des Populations du Nord (UCPN) also merged in 1959 to form the Union Démocratique des Populations Togolaises (UDPT).

The UDPT, led by Grunitzky, was disqualified from competing in the April 1961 elections, in which CUT won 90 percent of the votes and all 52 legislative seats. Our period ends with Togo effectively a one-party state.

Continuity and Change since 1962

Togo showed more party system instability than any other country in our study. President Olympio's assassination in January 1963, right after the end of our original period of study, generated a series of events that led to a very different party system from that during our period. By 1978, none of our four original parties existed. Although three new parties qualified for study, only one remained by 1978.

Original Parties, Terminated

895 Progress Party. The Progress Party ended in 1959, when it joined other parties to form the Democratic Union of the Togolese Population (UDPT).

896 Union of Northern Chiefs and Populations. The UCPN also ended in 1959, for it was the other party in the creation of the UDPT.

893 Democratic Union of the Togolese Populations. Formed in 1959 by a merger of the above two parties, the UDPT became one of the four government parties supporting Grunitzky's 1963 government of reconciliation formed after Olympio's assassination. It was dissolved in 1967 following the coup by Colonel Etienne Gnassingbe Eyadema.

891 Committee of Togolese Unity. CUT was the governing party of the assassinated president. To promote national unity, it was continued in the coalition government formed afterward. It too terminated with the 1967 coup.

New Parties, Terminated

892 JUVENTO. Originally a youth group within CUT, JUVENTO became a party in 1959 but did not secure any legislative seats until included in the single list presented by the unity coalition in the 1963 elections. It suffered the same fate as its partners and was dissolved in 1967.

894 Togolese Popular Movement. There is some dispute about the founding of the MPT, but it was formed around 1953 as a split from the PTP. It was part of the 1963 four-party governing coalition and terminated with its companions in 1967.

New Parties, Continuing

897 Rally of the Togolese People. The RPT was formed in 1969 by General and President Eyaddma as the only legal political organization. However, it has no representation in the National Assembly, which has been suspended since his coup in 1967.


Togo offers another example of an African country that has moved from convoluted multiparty politics to simplified one-party politics. Togo's party system in 1979 bears little resemblance to its system in the 1950s.

1. Our study of party politics in Togo is based on a file of 680 pages from 35 documents, 2 of which are in French, the rest in English (see Table 1.3). The bibliographic search and indexing of material for the file was done by Robert Peipmeier. William Goodman used the file to code the Togolese parties on the variables in the ICPP conceptual framework. George Martens was our consultant.