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Social Science: Political Parties - Role Do Political Parties Play in Competition and Contestation

Describe any five major functions of political parties.

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Solution

A political party is constituted by a group of people who come together to contest elections with the aim of holding power and running the government. Political parties are formed by the people on the basis of shared political, social and economic ideologies and principles. The major functions of political parties have been described below.

  1. Contesting election: In most of the democracies, the political parties contest elections by putting up their selected candidates. These candidates are selected either by a group of members or by the top members of the party.
  2. Forming programmes and policies: During elections, different political parties put forward different policies and programmes and the voters have the right to choose from them. Each of us may have different opinions and views on what policies are suitable for the society. It is the ruling party that decides the line and direction of the government.
  3. Making laws: When a party wins the election and comes to power, it makes laws for the country. These laws are debated and passed by the legislature. Members of the ruling party follow the directions of the party leaders irrespective of their personal opinions as the decision making is a collective process.
  4. Shaping public opinion: Political parties raise issues of public importance. At times, along with different pressure groups, they launch movements for the resolution of the problems faced by the people.
  5. Access to government machinery and welfare schemes: Political parties provide access to government machinery and welfare schemes implemented by the government. Parties remain responsive to the needs and demands of the people.
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