Political Party: Meaning, Types, Functions And Features

Table Of Contents
1. Meaning Of Political Party
2.Types Of Political Parties
3. Advantages Of Party Systems And Political Parties
4. Functions Of Political Parties
5. Features Of Political Parties
Meaning Of Political Party
Political party is an organized body of men and women seeking to control power of the government. It can equally be defined as an association of people with a common goal and which seek to win government power.
A political party means a group publicly organized by constitutional provisions and often times registered with the objectives of gaining political power in government.
A political party is an organized group of individuals seeking to seize the power of government in order to enjoy the benefits to be derived from such control. Furthermore, a political party is a regular and permanent organization of a certain number of people concerned with either conquering power or keeping it. A political party can equally be seen as any group, however loosely organized seeking to elect government office holder under a given label.
Types Of Political Parties
1. Elitist/Cadre Parties: These are types of political parties that draw their members from the highest echelon of the social hierarchy in a country. That is to say that members are made up of people with high social status and standing like, intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, tycoons, traditional rulers, etc. Elitist parties that are conservative in nature believe in quality not quantity that responsible men and women of substance rather than riff-raffs and ragamuffins should control the affairs of any government of a country.
2. Mass Party: These are political parties that draw their members from all sections of the country and have wide membership and any individual wishing to join the parties is allowed. These parties direct their action and appeal to the masses of the people in a country. Mass parties take such names as peoples party, labour party, workers party, etc, and their manifestoes are aimed at alleviating and ameliorating the suffering of the masses.
3. Broker Parties: These parties are formed with members drawn from the upper and lower classes of the society. Their main aim is to reconcile the conflicting interests of the rich and the poor by carrying out policies of social justice for the interest of all.
4. Missionary/Religious Parties: They are formed based on religious sentiments in order to win votes. Members of these political parties are mainly religious fanatics and born-again.
5. Charismatic/Personality Parties: These are political parties formed or led by individuals with charisma. They revolve around the personal qualities of their leaders. At times, the death of their leaders leads to the end of the parties or decline of their electoral success. Examples of these political parties may include I.A.NU led by Dr. Julius Nyerere, U.P.N. With Late Chief Awolowo as its leader, N.P.P. under the leadership of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, etc.
6. Ideological Parties: These are political parties which are based on different political ideologies or beliefs which form the bases of existence of these parties. For example, Communist Party of Russia, Chinese Social Party, Fascist Party of Italy, etc.
Advantages Of Political Parties
1. The existence of political parties in a country makes democracy possible to thrive.
2. Appointment of government officials such as ministers is based on party loyalty and not on merit which leads to enthronement of mediocrity in place of meritocracy.
Functions Of Political Parties
1. The functions of political parties remains the most important reason for their establishment.
2. To wind political power.
3. To provide information on candidates and current events.
4. To educate and enlighten the electorate.
5. To float an organization capable of running a government e.g without parties the legislature would tend to be a mere debating club without responsibility.
6. Political parties select, train and prepare the politically ambitious for election or appointment into political office.
7. It serves as a vital political mediators between the ordinary citizen and the government.
8. Absence of political parties gives room to political nepotism, corruption and inefficiency.
Features Of Political Parties
1. Political parties are organized groups based on the electoral commission’s laid down rules.
2. They aim at contesting elections, gaining political power and governing a country.
3. Political parties are made of people who share similar political opinions, principles, interests and beliefs.
4. Political parties have ideologies they tend to implement when they come to power.
5. They are guided by different political party manifestoes.
6. They show loyalties to electorate who determine their political successes in order to win elections.
7. Political parties use persuasive rather than coercive means in coming to power.
8. They have cohesive leadership.
9. Political parties draft their different constitutions that direct the conduct of their political activities.
10. They abide by conventional principles of collective and individual responsibilities.
11. Good political parties are organized to reach everybody in the society.
12. Political parties express their views on every subject and matter that affect the society as a whole.

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