Political Parties- Meaning and Introduction

What is a political party?

  • A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government.
  • It mobilizes voters to support common sets of interests, concerns and goals.
  • A political party fixes the political agenda and policies and tries to persuade people by claiming that their policies are better than those of other parties.
  • A political party is the means through which people can speak to the government and have a say in the governance of any country.

Components of a Political Party

A political party has three components :

  • the leaders,
  • the active members
  • the followers.

Functions of a Political Party

  • Parties contest elections by putting up candidates
  • In some countries, candidates are selected by members and supporters of a party (for e.g., USA).
  • In other countries, candidates for contesting elections are chosen by top party leaders – for e.g., India.
  • Parties put forward different policies and programmes and voters choose from them.
  • In a democracy, a large number of people with similar opinions group together and form a party and then give a direction to the policies followed by the government.
  • The parties that lose elections form the opposition and voice different views and criticize the government for their failures and wrong policies.
  • They mobilise opposition to the government.
  • They shape public opinion.
  • Parties with the help of pressure groups launch movements for solving problems faced by the people
  • Parties provide people access to government machinery and welfare schemes implemented by the
    government.
  • For an ordinary citizen it is easy to approach a local party leader than a government officer

Need for political parties :

  • The democracies cannot exist without political parties being clear about the functions they perform.
    If there were no political parties then :
  • All candidates in an election would become independent candidates.
  • They cannot promise any major policy changes to the people.
  • No one will be responsible for how the country runs.
  • In Large Societies ,Only Representative democracy can work.
  • Political parties become an agent to gather different views and present them to the government

Questions Asked from this Topic

1. Explain two functions each of the ruling party as well as of the opposition parties                                                      [Board Term-II, (Set-68001) 2012]

 Functions of the ruling parties :
i) They play a major role in making laws for the country.
ii) They form the government and run the country.
iii) They recruit leaders, train them and then make ministers to run the government.
Functions of the opposition parties :
i)They oppose the government by voicing different views.
ii) They criticise government for its failure and wrong policies.
iii) They mobilise opposition to the government.

2. What is the role of Opposition? OR What is the function of the Opposition party?  (2013)
Ans. Opposition party is a party which does not win elections in sufficient numbers to form a government, but it keeps an eye on the working of the ruling party and acts as a check on their
activities.
It keeps a check on their expenditures, brings their failure before the public.
It also protects the rights and liberties of the people by not allowing any law to be passed which threatens
their fundamental rights.

3. How do political parties help in shaping public opinion? Explain.  (2016)

Role of political parties in shaping public opinion as:
(i) They raise and highlight issues.
(ii) They form pressure groups as an extension,
(iii) They launch movement for the resolution of
problems faced by the people.
(iv) They have lakhs of members and activists

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