A political party basically, is a group of people. These people come together to contest elections in order to hold power in the government. It is a way to mobilize the voters to support common sets of interests, concerns, and goals. The primary role of the political party is to fix the political agenda and policies. So, each party tries to persuade people by claiming their policies are better than those of other parties.
In a broader perspective, a political party is a means via which the people can speak to the government and have a say in the governance of any country. So, every political party must have three key components:
- Active Members
Functions of Political Parties
Political parties perform an important task in government. They bring people together to achieve control of the government, develop policies favorable to their interests or the groups that support them, and organize and persuade voters to elect their candidates to office. Although very much involved in the operation of government at all levels, political parties are not the government itself, and the Constitution makes no mention of them.
The basic purpose of political parties is to nominate candidates for public office and to get as many of them elected as possible. Once elected, these officials try to achieve the goals of their party through legislation and program initiatives. Political parties want as many people involved as possible. Most members take a fairly passive role, simply voting for their party’s candidates at election time. Some become more active and work as officials in the party or volunteer to persuade people to vote. The most ambitious members may decide to run for office themselves.
Every political party has a number of functions to perform. Let list the major functions:
- A political party contests elections by putting up candidates.
- In countries like the USA, the candidates are selected by members and supporters of a party.
- On the other hand, in countries like India, the candidates are chosen by top party leaders.
- Every party has different policies and programmes. Voters make a choice in accordance with the policies and programmes liked by them.
- In a democratic country, a large group of people that has certain similar opinions group together and form a party. Then then, give a direction to the policies adopted by the government.
- Those parties which lose elections form the opposition. They voice different views and criticise the government for their failures and mobilize opposition to the government.
- Political parties shape public opinion. With the help of the pressure groups, the parties launch movements for solving problems faced by the people.
- Parties even offer access to government machinery and welfare schemes. The local party leader serves as a link between the citizen and the government officer.
Importance of Political Parties
A democracy cannot exist without the presence of a political party. This is clear from the function performed by the political parties. In case, there are no political parties then:
- Every candidate in the election would be an independent candidate. Any individual candidate does not have the efficiency to promise any major policy change to the people. In such a scenario, no one will be responsible for how the country is run.
- In the long run, only a representative democracy can survive. Political parties are the agencies that gather different views on various issues and present them to the government.