Political Party is an organization that collectively represents an ideology, especially in a constitutional government or opposition. It is an organized group of individuals with the same opinion who seek power through elections.
A political party may also be defined as “a disciplined and well-organized group of individuals having a charter, constitution, volunteer members and Leadership and through constitutional means tries to secure power. Then the group implements its charter.”
Functions Of a Political Party
Program Or Charter
A political party has its national program, which is made according to national problems and people’s needs.
The program is presented before people for maximum support. Party policy or program is called it’s charter.
Formulating party programs is vital in those states where political parties have significant differences in their views.
Formulation of a program is a complicated process. Its making requires study and research to indicate burning issues and keep the concerned people’s psychology in mind. For this purpose, political parties have research cells.
Political parties use various means of information like speeches, radio, T.V, press, agitation, etc., to inform people regarding important national issues.
Ordinary people have no deep knowledge of political affairs, so they get knowledge through political parties, and their political consciousness is awakened.
Parties are to provide political training to people. It is the strongest source of political training, awakening political consciousness and making them aware.
A political party is a crucial part of the political system. It plays a role in interest articulation, aggregation, communication, and political recruitment. So, parties provide mass training.
Share in Election
Political parties have obvious and clear-cut programs to solve national problems. Therefore, political parties try to seek government through constitutional means.
Political parties nominate their candidates for general elections and support them in election campaigns.
Through elections, people empower a political party or parties to govern and then the ruling party runs state administration according to the people’s will.
Formation of Government
Political parties seek government through peaceful means, i.e., winning general elections.
After winning the elections, a party or parties form the government and then change their promises in policies.
If government parties ignore their programs, such parties are defeated in successive elections, for they lose people’s support and confidence.
A party or group of parties with no majority plays the role of opposition in the parliament and outside the legislature.
Opposition plays a significant role in the democratic system because opposition keeps the ruling party under a critical eye.
It is to criticize the government’s negative actions and policies. In Britain, the opposition leader is given second status after the Prime Minister.
Without opposition, the ruling party may become despotic and abuse State powers.
Control In Legislature
A political party’s basic function is to keep its members united in the legislature. In a parliamentary system, it is to maintain its majority.
A political party coordinates between the executive and legislature in a presidential system.
In a legislature, all parties form their parliamentary parties. The opposition party also works efficiently to keep its members together.
Source of Information
Common people have no political knowledge or information. Political parties provide information of national and international importance to people.
It sometimes discloses very secret activities and government policies to the government. Through press statements, demonstrations, public meetings, processions, and other sources, parties are to provide information to citizens.
Political parties are the mouthpieces of the citizens, and these are to present people’s problems to policymakers.
They are to provide feedback on a particular execution of the government.
Their legislative members discuss vital national issues and issues of their constituencies on the floor.
They point out people’s problems and tries their best to pressure the government to solve the problems of the citizens.
Political parties are vital sources of the formation and expression of public opinion.
It is a party that paves the ground for sound public opinion but, on the other side, provides opportunities for people to express their views from a party’s platform.
Organization And Composition Of Political Parties
Most political parties adopt democratic principles and commitments. Political parties are a compulsory part of a political system.
It is a sort of sub-system within a political system. Its structure and organization vary from state to state and party to party, but some elements are similar.
A party is well organized from bottom to top, having offices and office-bearers. It has its flag, slogans, and ideology.
It is commonly composed of five elements, i.e., charter, constitution, voluntary members, Leadership, and flags.
A political party is to collect vital issues of national importance and select the most burning ones, which are of collective importance and need immediate attention of the government.
Keeping in view these issues, research cells of the parties prepare the draft of the party charter, which is then approved by the Leadership or other related organs of the party (as described by the party constitution).
A Charter is the program of a party based on which parties are to seek supporters, and recruitment is done.
Political parties employ different strategies for recruiting supporters. The election is contested based on this charter, and after winning the elections, a government is made to implement the charter in the form of policies and laws.
Charter is a detailed manifesto drawn in the light of the psychology of the people. A successful charter is that which has magnetism and attraction for common people.
Those charters are attractive which are framed to solve the most urgent issues and those problems which the common people face.
Some of the parties have imported charters. Some parties are to prepare charters keeping in view the interests of a particular region, race, sect, or class.
The role of such political parties is always confined, and they remain detached from the stream of national politics. In the under-developed societies, charters of the parties have less role for affiliation with the parties is based on emotions, family ties, social pressures, the personality of the leaders and friendship, etc.
Charters are of much significance in developing societies. Political systems in those states are ever stable and fruitful where there is awareness among mass about the charters of the parties. People then vote on a rational basis.
it is a document that tells about a party’s body and explains the election procedure of the office bearers and leaders and defines their tenure, removal process, and their powers.
Constitution explains the top organization but all institutions, parts, and leaders from top to bottom in detail.
It is not merely a formal document, but all party institutions and leaders are bound to obey and respect the provisions of the party constitution.
If one of its members or leader is to violate the constitution, the member is given punishment, and there may be expulsion from the party. It keeps party organs together and disciplined.
A party that is to respect its charter is respected. Constitutionalism in the party discourages personalities or family politics.
It provides an opportunity for all members to become leaders. Such parties are democratic in their spirit and follow their constitutions or by-laws.
It is made by the party cream leadership and approved by the representative organs of the parties.
There are varying methods of amendments in the parties’ constitutions, but generally, representative organs play a vital role in amending the constitutions.
The very definitions of political parties explain that parties are groups of those people who have the same views or followers of specific and similar political ideologies.
People join and work for a party for a sacred cause. Parties without membership are hollow bodies. It makes its charter and communicates it to people through different means.
If its charter is impressive, people start to take an interest, and political recruitment starts. People take membership in parties, and their affiliation with political parties is voluntary.
They are not paid for their services. It is one of the distinctive features of political parties that all its members are unpaid.
They are to work according to the directions given by top Leadership, and these directions are acted upon happily.
They work to spread the programs and ideology of their party with enthusiasm and increase its membership.
Its members are to elect its office bearers and leaders from bottom to top. The process and nature of election vary from party to party.
Members of parties actively participate in public meetings, processions, demonstrations, etc. Ordinary members offer sacrifices, and they are often jailed and tortured by the rulers.
Membership is awarded according to the constitutional provisions of parties, commonly for a defined period, and proper membership forms are filled.
Membership may be suspended when a member violates the constitution or is found to work against the best interests of his or her party.
Those parties remain democratic where the volunteer members are educated, alert, and critics and never become defensive of their parties without solid grounds.
If their affiliation is not sentimental but rational, such parties remain on the right path. Individuals are also less likely to work as party activists because of the limits of the benefits parties can provide them or if the sacred ’cause’ is not served efficiently by the party high-ups.
Every organized and disciplined gathering is led by a leader. Political parties are well-organized groupings, and elected leaders guide these.
Leaders are often well-known national personalities, have political experience, a broad outlook, and farsightedness.
A leader must be intelligent, well aware of the national problems, have an attractive personality, have speaking power full of magic, and be bold.
Sometimes leaders face severe hardships and even victimization and torture because of the party’s ideology or program.
The success or failure of a party mainly depends upon the role of Leadership. Leaders are obeyed, and the lower party organs and members respect their orders and decisions.
The members give due respect and honor, and they have blind love for their leaders. Leaders are the cream of a party, and the survival of a party depends upon various qualities of its leaders.
Ordinary people closely observe the character and role of their leaders, and then they determine and assess the status of that party in national politics.
The people note every word, statement, and speech of the leader, passing their comments. Its leaders work in the capacity of office bearers or cabinet members.
Common offices in a party are chairman/president, vice chairman/vice president, general secretary, joint secretary, press secretary, office secretary, finance secretary, etc.
These offices are established at the central and regional levels. Almost all political parties have a central working committee, often elected by voluntary members directly or indirectly.
The central working committee is a decisive organ that frames the main policy and evaluates the working and decisions of the other organs.
The central working committee elects a central executive committee to execute the policies of the central working committee. The executive committee is mainly composed of the ringleaders of the party.
In China, the congress of the Communist Party is its central working committee, while the Politburo or Presidium of the Communist Party is its executive body.
If a party comes to power, members of its executive party have a decisive role in governing the state.
Flags And Slogans Of A Political Party
All types of political parties have their political flags. For example, the Pakistan People’s Party has a tricolored flag in which red, white, and green colors of equal size are attached vertically.
A flag is to express a party program, slogan, or main policy.
The red flag of the Chinese Communist Party with a hammer and sickle signifies the union of industrial and agricultural labor in a communist system.
All parties have specific slogans, and a slogan is the cream of a party’s charter or program.
For instance, In Pakistan, the slogan of Jamiat Ulema e Islam is ‘Allah kee Zameen Par Allah Ka Nizaam.’ The slogan of the Awami National Party is ‘Ism Ism Nationalism.’
In some states, parties have their specific electoral symbols; for example, in the USA, ‘Elephant’ is a permanent electoral symbol of the Republican Party, while ‘donkey’ is that of the Democratic Party.
Merits Of Political Parties
Need For Democracy
Democracy is a dead scheme without political parties. It is a representative democratic age, and in this system, political parties are a must.
A large population can know the true spirit of democracy only through the political parties. In the parliamentary system, political parties are the spirits.
This system is almost impossible without parties. This system needs a group mind that is not possible without parties.
People share, and representation is the soul of democracy, but people’s share may be ensured only through democracy.
It is seen that ordinary citizens have no interest in politics. Due to political parties, they get knowledge about the national problems.
People gain consciousness and are enabled to vote for the best party. A political party creates people’s interests through political communication making political recruitment.
Today, any political system may remain stable only if the citizens are politically aware and trained, but these things are not possible without political parties.
Formation Of Peoples’ Government
In the absence of political parties, every person will contest the election in an independent position, preserving only his personal interests and benefits.
The legislators’ views will be different from one another, which will produce a lack of unanimity. Political parties give clear-cut programs to people in the elections, and the government is formed according to people’s wishes.
Constructive criticism is necessary for development, and effective criticism is possible only through organized opposition.
A strong and organized opposition is not possible without political parties. If there are no political parties and members win elections in an independent position, there will be a great difference in views, and no effective opposition is possible.
It has been observed that independent members remain with treasury benches to preserve their own interests.
They never prefer to play as opposition. So, political parties are a must for opposition.
Harmony In Government Branches
Without political parties, there is no balanced relationship and coordination between the legislature and executive because independent members have no centralized control and common program.
A majority party controls the legislature and executive and brings harmony between both the two.
In the Presidential form of government, it interrelates executive and legislature, which is necessary to some extent.
Responsibility And Leadership
A great responsibility lies on the shoulders of political parties. They are accountable before people.
Political parties also provide experienced and trained Leadership for running the state administration.
People reject that party if a political party fails to solve the national problems or fulfill its electoral promises in the next elections.
A party is basically a training institute for training citizens as leaders.
Supremacy Of National Interests
Political parties deal with the national problems while independent members preserve only regional or local interests.
In parliament, these political parties control legislation in favor of a dominant province.
Demerits Of Political Parties
Absoluteness In Affiliation
With particular reference to developing countries, it has been observed that the members have strong bonds and emotional attachments to political parties.
Such a blind attachment compels party workers to endanger national interests. Party interests are given superiority.
The opposition criticizes the government but not in a positive sense, while the government party wrongly defies all policies.
In parliament, both the ruling party and Opposition benches try to defeat each other even by sacrificing the national interests. Such an absolute membership is fatal for the nation.
The Dominance Of A Particular Class
In the developing states, parties are puppets in the hands of professional and opportunist politicians.
Ordinary party workers always offer severe sacrifices under challenging circumstances for the survival of their parties and cause.
When that party rules, the junta, and opportunist classes ignore those ordinary party members. When a faithful member criticizes the high-ups of his party, he is expelled from the party.
In most underdeveloped states, politics and political parties revolve around personalities. In various states, parties are the sources of exploitation in the hands of the seasonal, professional, and opportunist leaders who have no care for the general interests.
Political parties often use legal and illegal tactics to win the elections. After the general elections, a party or parties make government, and they facilitate their members even by violating the merit.
Active party members break the rules, and their ruling parties back them. These workers do every illegal and illegitimate work for their parties.
Political victimization, to pressurize the civil servants, favouritism, political bribery, and violation of rules, becomes a routine business. In this way, society is polluted with evils.
Supremacy Of The Specific Interests
Political parties are ever in the control and influence of a particular class of citizens. Opportunists financially support those parties with a majority and seem to win the general elections.
In this way party’s funds are increased, but as these parties come into power, they act as dictated by those opportunists.
The ruling party or parties are to preserve the vested interests of that particular class even by crushing the general interests.
Moral Evils In The Society
Political parties negatively criticize one another. In election campaigns, political parties make wrong promises and spread hatred against one another.
Characters are assassinated, and the political atmosphere becomes bitterly polluted with evil political activities.
This situation increases moral evils in society, and sensitive citizens hate political activities. The word ‘politics’ is taken in a negative sense, and common people consider it a sin.
In a large number of states, political parties are to disturb the state. These parties are to divide the nation instead of welding their hearts.
Due to extreme ideological differences, political parties divide people into opposite groups. Legislatures of various developing states are not more than battlefields.
Political allegations and cross-allegations become a routine matter. A strong and fatal political culture is created. Political affiliations highly influence social values.
Social disruption is mainly because of strong political likes and dislikes. Interrelations, fraternity, friendship, and cooperation are put to the winds.