Functions of parties

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  • Functions of parties
    • Making policy
      • Most policy in the ruling party (same as policy-making function of government) is made by ministers and their advisers
        • Also involves civil servants, political leaders, advisory units & committees
      • Leadership group of the opposition group has most influence on policy making
        • General membership of the party can have input - occurs locally, regionally, nationally
    • Representation
      • Parties seek to ensure all groups of society have their interests at least considered by government
        • Whilst still claiming to represent a specific section of society
      • Populist parties
        • Represent people who feel they've been ignored by conventional parties
        • Emotional / visceral appeal, plays on people's fears and dissatisfactions
        • Often emerge rapidly and disappear quickly
      • Issue parties represent a particular cause, while still claiming to represent national interest
    • Selecting candidates
      • Find local councillors, elected mayors, members of devolved assemblies, candidates for EU and UK parliament
      • Done at local and regional level through party committees staffed by activists
      • National party leaderships have some say in which candidates are chosen but local constituency parties have the most say
    • Identifying leaders
      • For ruling party, PM completely controls the appointment of minsters
      • Opposition leader chooses a smaller group of frontbench spokespeople who form the leadership
      • Some party members can become 'trained' as leaders in internal party organisations and committees
    • Organising elections
      • Party organisations persuade voters and inform them about candidates
    • Political education
      • Media has taken over supplying information to a certain extent
      • Growth of social media and pressure groups can marginalise parties
    • Reinforcing consent
      • Parties must support parliamentary democracy
        • If they were to challenge the nature of the political system in any way it would create political conflict within society


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