Political parties have always existed in all forms of governments and States. But some forms of government favour their growth and development more than the others. In absolutist and unconstitutional monarchies, for instance the parties were no more than cliques and coteries. In the direct democracies of antiquity they were really transient and unorganised collection of persons around a prominent leader or orator. It is only in modem representative democracy that they have fully developed into mass-organisations of leaders and followers, based on definite principles and programmes of public welfare and national interests.
They are, indeed, indispensable for the working of a democratic government. It is rightly said that they are the building blocks of democracy. Without political parties, writes Macrver. “there can be no unified Statement of principle, no orderly evolution of policy, no regular resort to be constitutional device of parliamentary elections, nor, of course, any of the recognised institutions by means of which a party seeks to gain or maintain power.” The rise of political parties was much criticised by old writers and Statesmen as undemocratic, for they came in between the people and the rulers.
But, as Lowell says, ‘The conception of government by the whole people in any large nation is, of course, a chimera; for whenever the suffrage is wide, parties are certain to exist and the control must really be in the hands of party that comprises a majority or a rough approximation to a majority of the people.” Without political parties, there will be factions and cliques. The people will have no means of influencing the government except by appeals and petitions to the government to redress their personal or sectional grievances, as was the case under the kings and other absolute rulers.
In fact, wherever there is government by discussion and public opinion, there must be political parties, for there can be no unanimity in public affairs. In dictatorship, however, political parties cannot exist in tf\e same way as in a democracy. Dictatorship does not tolerate difference of opinion. Hence there is only one party in a dictatorship, the government party, which has the monopoly of political power and decision making.