For Voters

Q.1.What is a political party?

A group of people who come together to contest election is called a political party. The party which wins majority seats in legislature forms the government whereas which does not win in legislature forms the opposition.

  1. political parties agree on some policies and programmes for the welfare of society with a view to promote the collective good.
  2. since there can be different views on what is good for all, parties try to persuade people why their policies are better than others.
  3. they seek to implement their policies by winning popular support through elections.

FEATURES OF POLITICAL PARTIES

  1. Parties persuade people and tell them why their policies are better than others.
  2. Parties seek to implement their policies by winning popular support through elections.

Q.2.What are the functions of political parties?

  1. CONTEST ELECTIONS: Political parties select candidates and contest elections. Eg. In USA, members and supporters of a party choose its candidates whereas in India, top party leaders choose candidates for contesting elections.
  2. PROMOTION OF DIFFERENT POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES: Parties put together different policies and programmes and voters can choose from them. In a democracy, large no. of similar opinions have to be grouped together. To provide directions in which policies can be formulated by the govt. A party reduces a vast multitude of opinions into a few basic opinions it supports. A govt. is expected to make its decision on the line taken by the political party.
  3. DECISIVE ROLE IN MAKING LAWS: Formally, laws are debated and passed in the legislature but since most of the members belong to a party, they go by the direction of the party leadership irrespective of their personal opinion.
  4. PARTIES FORM AND RUN GOVT: The political party which gets the majority of seats in the legislature forms and runs the govt. Parties recruit leaders, train them and then make them ministers to run the govt. in the way they want.
  5. PLAYS THE ROLE OF RESPONSIBLE OPPOSITION: Those political parties which do not get majority seats in legislature form the opposition. They voice different views and criticise the govt. for its failures on wrong policies.
  6. SHAPE PUBLIC OPINION: They raise and highlight issues. Parties sometimes also launch movements for the resolution of problems faced by the people. Often opinions in the society crystallise on the line parties take.
  7. PROVIDE PEOPLE AN ACCESS TO GOVT. MACHINERY AND WELFARE SCHEMES IMPLEMENTED BY THE GOVT.: For an ordinary citizen, it is easy to approach a local party leader than a govt. office. That is why they feel close to political parties even when they do not fully trust them. Parties have to be responsive to peoples’ needs and demands. Otherwise, people can reject those parties in the next elections.

Q.3.Why do we need political parties?

Political parties are essential for democracy in the following ways:

  1. They form govt. after winning elections i.e. the political party which wins majority seats in the legislature forms the govt. whereas the political party which does not win majority seats in the legislature forms the opposition. It criticises the govt. for its acts of omission and commission.
  2. Political parties are important for representative democracies as they bring representatives together to form the govt.It consists of people seeking to achieve their objectives through constitutional means and aims at promoting national interests.

Q.4.Mention three types of party system prevalent in the world.

  1. One party system. Eg. China
  2. Bi-party system. Eg. USA & UK
  3. Multi-party system. Eg. India

Q.5.Explain the three types of party systems.

.The three types of party systems are:

  1. One party system-When only one party is allowed to control and run the govt. it is called one-party system. Eg. In China only Communist party is allowed to rule because electoral system does not permit free competition for power.
  2. Two party system-When two parties have a serious chance of winning majority seats to form govt., such a system is called two-party system. Eg.USA & UK. Several other parties may exist and contest elections but only two major parties have a serious chance of winning majority seats.
  3. Multi-party system-When several parties compete for power and more than two parties have a reasonable chance of coming to power either on their own strength or in alliance with others, this is called multi-party system.

Q.6.What is an alliance or Front?

.When several parties in a multi-party system join hands for contesting elections and winning power, it is called alliance or front. The govt. is then formed by various parties coming together in a coalition Eg. major alliance in 2004 elections were NDA(National Democratic Alliance),UPA(United Progressive Alliance).

Q.7.What are the drawbacks of multi-party system?

  1. i)It leads to political instability as coalition govts. are formed which are not very stable.
  2. ii)It leads to a lot of confusion in the minds of others.

Q.8.What are the advantages of multi-party system?

India has adopted multi-party system and it is advantageous because it can accommodate diverse cultural, regional and minority interests through representations.

Q.9.Mention various types of political parties that exist in India.

  1. National parties
  2. Regional or State parties

Q.10.What are the national parties?

These are country-wide parties.

  1. They have their units in various states.
  2. By and large all their units follow the same policies, programmes and strategies that are decided at national level.

Q.11.What are regional parties?

State parties are also called regional parties.

  1. Regional parties exist, operate and function at regional level.
  2. A regional party has a regional outlook as it gives prominence to regional issues and specific problems of people of that region and influence people of that region.
  3. Some of these parties are All India Parties that happen to have succeeded in some states. Parties like Samajwadi party, Samata party and Rashtriya Janata Dal have national level political organisations with units in several states.
  4. Some parties like Biju Janata Dal, Sikkim Democratic Front and Mizo National Front are conscious about their state identity.

Q.12.On what basis does Election Commission recognises parties as national or regional parties?

  • NATIONAL PARTIES-A part that secures atleast 60% of total votes in Lok Sabha elections or Assembly elections in four states and wins atleast 4 seats in Lok sabha is recognised as a national party.
  • REGIONAL PARTIES-A party that secures atleast 6% of total votes in Legislative Assembly of a state and wins atleast 2 seats is recognised as State or Regional party.

Q.13.Explain the rising importance of regional parties.

In the last three decades the no. and strength of regional parties has expanded which has made our parliament more diverse. These days not a single national party is able to secure a majority in Lok Sabha. Therefore, national parties form alliance with regional parties. Since 1996,state parties have got an opportunity to be a part of the national level coalition govt. This strengthened our democracy and federalism.

Q.14.What are the challenges faced by political parties?

  1. LACK OF INTERNAL DEMOCRACY: There is a tendency in political parties towards concentration of power in one or few leaders at the top. Parties do not hold organisational meetings or conduct internal elections. Since one or two leaders are important, those who disagree with them find it hard to continue in the party.
  2. DYNASTIC SUCCESSION: There are very few ways for ordinary people or workers to rise to top in a political party. In many parties, the top positions are held by members of one family. This is bad for democracy as people who do not have enough experience and popular support come to occupy top and important positions.
  3. USE OF MONEY AND MUSCLE POWER: Sometimes political parties use shortcuts to win elections. They tend to nominate those candidates who can waste a lot of money. In some cases, political parties support criminals who use their muscle power to ensure the victory of a political party in elections.
  4. LACK OF MEANINGFUL CHOICE TO VOTERS: In the modern era, there has been a decline in the ideological differences among parties. Those who want different policies have no options available to them.

Q.15.What efforts have been made to reform the parties?

  1. The constitution was amended to prevent the elected MLAs and MPs from changing the parties. It was done because elected members were indulging in defection to become ministers or for cash rewards. Now the law says that if an MLA or an MP changes his party, he will lose his seat in the legislature.
  2. The Supreme Court has passed an order to reduce the influence of money and criminals. Now a candidate is required to fill an affidavit giving details of his property and criminal cases pending against him.
  3. The Election Commission passed an order making it necessary for the parties to hold their organisational and file their income tax return.

Q.16.Mention some reforms to strengthen political parties.

  1. A law should be made to regulate the internal affairs of the political parties. It should be made compulsory for political parties to maintain a register of its members, to have its independent constitution and follow it, to have an independent authority,to act as a judge in case of party disputes, to hold open elections to the higher posts.
  2. It should be made mandatory for political parties to give tickets to about 1/3rd of women candidates.
  3. There should be state funding of elections i.e. the govt. should give parties money to support their election expenses.

Q.17.What role can people play to reform political parties?

  1. People can put pressure on political parties by publicity, petitions and agitations.
  2. Ordinary citizens, pressure groups and media can play an important role as if political parties feel that they would lose public support by not taking up reforms, they would become more serious about reforms.