Muammar Qaddafi has ruled Libya since a 1969 military coup but holds no official title. In 1977 he proclaimed Jamahiriyah popular rule, defined as a system of communal gatherings, in which political parties are banned and ordinary people have a say in ruling themselves. He has, however, retained a strong hand on the government and society. His goal is to create the perfect society in line with the teachings of his Green Book, which combines aspects of socialism, Islam and pan-Arabism. Qaddafi personally has control over all the key aspects of Libyan government, having carried out purges of the military.
In the last decade, Libya has allowed some economic reforms and sought to normalize its relationships with Europe and the U.S. which deteriorated after Libya's support of terrorist activities including the Lockerbie bombing. Despite concerns about interacting with Libya, the prospect of accessing Libya's oil and gas has been very attractive to European leaders and Libyan ties with the U.S. have also improved.