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  • Pressure groups sometimes put up candidates for election in order to publicise their goals or issue...does not necessarily mean they seek power, merely influence.  Example: Anti-Abortion groups and CLEAR, a party,  2010 legislation for cannabis
  • Sometimes, develop a wide range of policies like parties. (Trade Unions and Confederation of the British Industry
  • Sometimes pressure groups transition themselves into Parties (UKIP started as an an anti-EU pressure group, Green Party once a environment campaign, British National Party anti-immigration organisation.
  • Some pressure groups very closely associated with parties. this used to be the case with trade unions and Labour/ Countryside Alliance which has strong link to the conservatives.


  • Parties seek governmental power or share power, pressure groups do not seek power.
  • Parties must develop policies across a full range of government business: Pressure groups are more narrow goals/narrow interests of group/specific issue
  • Parties have to make themselves accountable for all their policies; pressure groups do not- especially for elections. E.g Arguably Greenpeace against GM food as it is damaging the environment, but potential benefits include helping poverty in some developing countries. INSTEAD govt have to weigh up the benefits. Another example: 'Action on Smoking and Health' (ASH) -smoking ban- not responsible for loss of government revenue
  • Parties normally have a formal organisation; pressure groups may be formally organised, but are often very loose organisations.

Overall comparison

The clear differencesPARTIES- Seek governmental power, adopt policies across full range of government responsibility, have to be accountable for their policies, must behave in a responsible way. PRESSURE GROUPS - Narrow range of issues, do not have to be accountable, some pressure groups may act illegally or promote civil disobedience. THE BLURRING - Some pressure groups (TUs' and business groups) have a wide range of policies, should be accountable to their members, some pressure groups work so closely with parties and government it is difficult to distinguish between the two. 


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