Functions of Political Parties

They organise public opinion and formulate the general wilL The problems facing the modem State are many and complex. People haveordinarily all sorts of opinions and views about one and the same issue. The first function of political parties is to organise these myriads ot opinions by educating the people. Every party selects those issues which are of fundamental importance or are likely to appeal to the voters. It then formulates its own views, policy and programme about it and popularises it among the voters by means of the press, platform and other means ol propaganda. Thus it explains these problems to the people. At the same time other parties put before them their own views and policies and thus enable them to judge these issues by themselves. In this way they act, as Lowell puts it, as brokers of ideas. As Bryce says, they bring order out of chaos of opinions and views. If there were no political parties in the modern State, politics would be a sheer babble of tongues. A disorganised mass of people can neither formulate principles nor agree on policy. Thus political parties organise public opinion and express the will of the people or the General Will. By serving, as Gettel says, as the motive force in crystallising public: opinion, they make democracy workable over large areas of the modern nation States.

They select candidates for public offices. The second function of political parties is to select candidates for election, to plan, organise and run election campaigns and to win them by winning majority of votes for their own candidates. This is their essential and very useful function in the modem democratic government. As elections are expensive affairs, and some candidates are too poor to bear them, the party defrays the election expenses of such candidates from the party funds, contributed by its members and supporters. Moreover, the voters cannot know the candidates or choose them. The parties select them and acquaint the voter* with their qualifications and merits and thus convince the votes of the superiority of their own candidates over those of the rival parties. They are  launching pad or spring-boards for new leaders to capture governmental power. They provide opportunities for leaders to come to power.

They endeavour to capture government by constitutional methods. The primary aim of a political party is to obtain control of government. Hence political parties endeavour to capture governmental power by peaceful and constitutional methods of winning elections. In modern politics ballot has replaced bullets, and heads are counted, not Sroken. The party which wins majority in elections becomes the ruling party. For thisk purpose the parties announce their party programmes on thq we of the general elections, select their candidates and launch election campaigns and undertake nation-wide election campaigns. They spend huge lums to win elections. They dramatize politics and keep the nation politically awake. The majority party becomes the party-in-power and puts Its party programme and policy into practice. For this purpose, it makes new laws and amends or repeals the old ones which are not in harmony with its Programme or policy.

They also criticize  the Government. The party or parties which are returned in minority to the legislature, form the Opposition. It performs no less important and useful function than that of running the administration. The opposition parties keep the ruling party in check, point out its weaknesses, and prevent it from becoming despotic or negligent of national interests. They expose corruption and favoritism and scandals of the ruling party. The Opposition is, therefore, aptly described as the Watchdog of the democracy.

They control their members in the legislature. Lastly, the political parties perform an important function of holding together their members in the legislature. This is particularly so in the parliamentary lystem, in which the majority party in the legislature also forms the cabinet. If it is to remain the ruling party and preserve its power, it must remain a majority party in the legislature. Hence the party organisation is strict and party discipline and solidarity rigid. The party is, therefore a unifying agency between the

.’executive and legislative departments of government. In the presidential form of government, the parties bring about harmony between the executive and legislative organs of the State and make them a working whole.