Why Do We Need Political Parties?
In the present day democratic countries, political parties are considered as essential components for the formation and working of the government. Of course, in some countries like Libya, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, there are governments without parties. These countries are not democratic and political parties are banned there. We can, therefore, infer that democracies function successfully in countries that have competitive party systems. Political parties actually help the institutions and processes of a government democratic. They enable people to participate in elections and other processes of governance, educate them and facilitate them to make policy choices. If political parties are necessary to make the working of the representative government possible, you may well ask as to what is the meaning of a political party? What are its main characteristics? What are their roles in a democratic government?
Meaning of a Political Party
A political party is generally described as an organized body of people who share common principles and cherish certain common goals regarding the political system. A political party operates and seeks political power through constitutional means to translate its policies into practice. It is a body of like-minded people having similar views on matters of public concern. Gilchrist defines a political party as “an organized group of citizens who professor share the same political views and who by acting as a political unit, try to control the government”. Another definition given by Gettell is: “a political party consists of a group of citizens, more or less organized, who act as a political unit and who, by the use of their voting power, aim to control the government and carry out their general policies”. From these definitions, it is clear that political parties are organized bodies and are primarily concerned with the acquisition and retention of power.
From the above-mentioned definitions of political parties, the following can be identified as their main characteristics:
- a political party is an organized group of people;
- the organized group of people believes in common principles and common goals;
- its objectives revolve around seeking political power through collective efforts;
- it employs constitutional and peaceful methods in seeking control over the government through elections; and
- while in power, it translates its declared objectives into governmental policies.
Also read: Curbing Criminalisation Of Politics