What is a political Party?
A Political Party is an organisation that develops a set of political goals and policies, which it seeks to convert into political action by obtaining government office, or a share in government, or by influencing the government of the day. it pursues its goals by mobilising public opinion in its favour, selecting candidates for office, competing at elections and identifying suitable political leaders.
They actively seek political power and the aim to give the general public, or electorate, something to relate to.
Features of a Political Party
- Seek political power, large ones especially seek governance
- Have to be organised in order to run/to be able to be effective
- develop policies to secure election of candidates
- Must have strategies to win public support (media, word of mouth etc.)
- Must select suitable candidates for election through hustings
- Need a successful and recognisable leader
Functions of a Political Party
- Represent groups of people - originally class based.
- develop policies and programmes. Aggregation - involves making policies compatible and consistent.
- Choose/Select political leaders and can select candidates for office.
- help run elections - leaflets, persuade people to vote, door to door etc.
- Vital in the workings of parliament
- mobilise popular consent for the political system.- make sure the system suns smoothly and follows the law of the system (in our case democracy)
- the main parties aim to govern the country/state.
- communication and ideological functions
- offer a choice of views for the voter to choose from
- must be accountable and democratic.
Criticisms of Parties
- May stifle debate by enforcing uniformity on members
- Can prevent new or radical ideas from developing in order to keep support from the mainstream.
- they can be seen to maintain social division (outdated view?)