Political Parties and Their Roles
A political party is defined as an organised group of people with at least roughly similar political aims and opinions, that seeks to influence public policy by getting its candidates elected to public office. Parties tend to be deeply and durably entrenched in specific substructures of the specific society in a sustainable and well functioning democracy. They can link the governmental institutions to the elements of the civil society in a free and fair society and are regarded as necessary for any modern democratic system.
Political parties perform key tasks in a democratic society, such as
1. socialising and educating voters and citizens in the functioning of the political and electoral system and the generation of general political values 2. balancing opposing demands and converting them into general policies 3. Activating and mobilising citizens into participating in political decisions and transforming their opinions into viable policy options 4. Channelling public opinion from citizens to government 5. Recruiting and training candidates for public office.
Political parties are often described as institutionalized mediators between civil society and those who decide and implement decisions. By this, they enable their members’ and supporters’ demands to be represented in parliament and in government. Even though parties fulfil many vital roles and perform several functions in a democratic society, the nomination and presentation of candidates in the electoral campaign is the most visible function to the electorate. To perform the above mentioned tasks and functions, political parties and citizens need some rights and obligations guaranteed or ruled by constitution or law. These include * Freedom of organisation
* Freedom to stand for election
* Freedom of speech and assembly
* Provision of a fair and peaceful competition
* Mechanisms of plurality
* Inclusion in the electoral process and contacts with the EMB * A level playing field and freedom from discrimination
* Media access and fair reporting
* Transparent and accountable political finance
The internal functioning of individual political parties is to some extent determined by forces that are external to political parties, such as the electoral system, political culture, legal regulations, etc. However, internal processes of political parties, such as the personality of leaders and staff, the ideological foundations, party history, and internal political culture are considered to be even more influential on the internal functioning. If a political party would like the democratic principles of electoral politics to be applied within the party, they may consider practices like internal information and consultation processes, internal (formal or informal) rules and structures for the organisation and decision-making within the party, and transparency in the party’s functioning at all levels. Party members may also take on more formal roles in decision-making like participating in internal elections for leadership positions or in selecting the party’s candidate(s) in the upcoming elections. Many parties also work actively to enhance the role oftraditionally under-represented groups in their parties.
Role Of Political Parties
In spite of the Founders’ intentions, the United States in 1800 became the first nation to develop nascent political parties organized on a national basis to accomplish the transfer of executive power from one faction to another via an election. The development and expansion of political parties that followed was closely linked to the broadening of voting rights. In the early days of the republic, only male property owners could vote, but that restriction began to erode in the early 19th century as the result of immigration, the growth of cities and other democratizing forces, such as the westward expansion of the country. Over the decades, the right to vote...
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