Political parties serve as the motive force in crystallizing public opinion and the unifying agency which makes democracy workable.They are the indispensable links between the people and representative machinery of government.They are the vehicles through which individuals and groups worl to secure political power and,if successful,to exercise that power.They make people politically conscious,that is aware of their role as citizens.This role cannot be performed simply by voting,but must be a continuous one if government is to be kept responsive to public interest.Thus,political parties are responsible for maintaining a continuous connection between the people and those who represent them either in the government or in the opposition.
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A political party,means an organised group of citizens who hold common views on public questions and acting as a political unit seek to obtain control of the government with a view to further the programme and policy which they profess.MacIver defines a political party”as an association organised in support of some principal or policy which by constitutional means it endeavours to make the determinant of government.”  Leacock compares it to a joint stock company to which each member contributes his share of political power.  Every political party is based upon two fundamental aspects of human nature.The first is that,men differ in their opinions,but at the same time,they are gregarious in nature.If they are to live in society,they must adjust their differences with others and agree on fundamentals of certain opinions.Secondly,they combine with persons holding similar views in order to put forward those views in an organise manner,and to support the priciples or policy which they jointly favour or support.Five conditions,are accordingly,necessary to constitute a political party.
That there must be certain measure of agreement on fundamental principles which can bind the people together as a political unit.They,may differ on details,but there must be no difference of opinion on principles they stand for.If there is no agreement on fundamentals,they cannot cooperate with one another and achive their political ends;the desire to attain political power.
That the men and women holding similar views must be duly organised.Without proper organisation the people just make a disorganised crowd and it is impossible to conform to the common principles on which they agree.It is their organisation into a permanently cohesive body that enables them to acquire strength so as to act in concert.
That the men so banded and organized should formulate a clear and specific programme which they should place before the electorate to win their support and devise all possible means to maintain it.They can only succeed in their mission if all solidly stand for their programme and present a united front.Even a slightest deviation is sure to plague the party.
That a political party should seek to carry out its policy by constitutional means.It is the ballot box which should decide that fate of a political party and its claim to form the government.Any organisation that aims at employing unconstitutional methods,that is to seize power by violence and suppress all parties is not a party in the sense we view a political party.
That,all political parties must try to promote national interests as distinguished from sectarian or communal interests.Burke defines a political party as “a body of men united,for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interests upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed.”  When a political party directs its activities in furthering sectional interests and selfish ends,it degenerates into a faction.A faction is a loosely united group of men who unite to achieve sectional interests as opposed to national interests.
Importance of political parties:
Therefore,from the above summary,we can conclude that political parties are indispensable for the working of a democratic government.without political parties,says MacIver, “there can be no unified statement of principle,no orderly evolution of policy,no regular resort to the constitutional device of parliamentary elections,nor of course any of the recognised institutions by means of which a party seeks to gain or to maintain power.”  .Political parties thus seek to form government.They are permanent organisations and their primary business is to influence the electorate to support their programmes,to win elections and to form a government in order to pursue the programme endorsed by the electorate at the general elections.Thus,political parties bring public opinion to focus and frame issues for a public verdict.Their main function is to introduce candidates and programmes to the public and attract them to their programmes,so as to garner votes.Political parties make the scheme of representative government workable and run away to the elections help to bring together large number of people in acceptance of a common basis of action.Bryce defines the importance of political parties in his definition, “In popular governments,however parties have a wider extension if not a more strenuous life,for everywhere a citizen has a vote,with the duty to use it at elections,each of the parties which strive for mastery must try to bring the largest possible number of voters into the ranks,organise them locally,appeal to them by the spoken and printed words,bring them upto the polls.Ballots having replaced bullets in political life,every voter is supposed to belong to one of the partisan hosts to render more or less obedience to its leaders.” 
Functions of parties:
Political parties are the indispensable links between the people and the representative machinery of government.It is the political parties which organise the vastly diversified people by nominating candidates for office and by popularising the ideas around which governmental programmes are built.If there were no political parties,politics would be a sheer babel of tongues.A disorganised mass of people can neither formulate principles nor agree on a policy.
They plan and contest elections and try to win by taking up positions on policy matters and presenting them as choices between parties.By raising issues,selecting from them,taking sides and generating political heat they educate the public and clarify opinion.Opposition opposes and the public reacts.In this way,political parties are responsible for maintaining a continuous link between the public and those who represent them either in the government or in the opposition.The functions of political parties can be summed up as follows:
Their first role is to sort out the issues for the electorate.They select candidates for election,plan and execute the election,campaign and present them with alternatives to the people between which they may choose.
The second role is to supply the majorities without which government cannot remain in power.If there were no parties,if members if legislatures were completely disorganised and formed only a mass of men voting one way today and another way tomorrow,the government could not be sure how long it could stay in power.Parties hold the representatives together subjecting them to the party whip and party discipline.The legislatures cannot work smoothly without party whip as it is necessary for party solidarity and for carrying out a coherent policy or programme.
Parties provide alternative teams to run the government.They prevent the same people from remaining in power for too long and looking at a office as a matter of right.A party system guarantees the electorate that there can be a change in government,according to their desire.A party system always reminds the rulers that the ultimate power rests with the people and they are the people to whom they(rulers) are accountable in the future.Under a representative government one holds one’s job on good behaviour only.Thus,political parties act as an essential unifying agency.
Role of political parties in democracy:
Since the outset of the global “third wave” of fed democratization in the early 1970s, political development in transitional and consolidating democracies has focused principally on three general goals: fostering free and fair competitive elections held among multiple parties and candidates; building civic society, with programs designed to assist grassroots organizations, citizen advocacy groups,and independent media; and strengthening the core institutions of the state, by encouraging independent judiciaries, effective legislatures, and efficient bureaucracies.
Far less emphasis, however, has been placed on developing effective political parties. But the role of political parties has long been essential to the functioning of modern,representative democracy.And at the outset of the 21st century,the specific role of communications has never been more essential to the functioning of political parties.Strong part based communication provide vital venues for public participation,structure citizens’ electoral choices and connect leaders and electoral officials around common programs.It focuses on the development of the most important communication channels that parties can use to strengthen their links with citizens and relates these developments to the most important communication policies that government can adopt to improve free and fair party competition.
The rapid pace of technological development today means that the party leaders must continually reconsider their communication strategies.Those,who exploit new technologies in innovative ways ahead of their rivals often find that this helps them gain new constituencies or achieve greater credibility among existing supporters.Developing direct channels of communication is especially important in developing democracies,as it allows parties to speak directly to supporters independently of the filter of potentially hostile or indifferent news media.Indeed,effective party communications are rightly considered important tools of democratic development.To the extent that parties in emerging democracies can communicate with persuade more citizens of their message,they not only increase their capacity to earn voting support but they also improve the vitality of electoral politics itself by developing party accountability,engaging new mobilising sectors,promoting new communications technologies and promoting party competition.
There are of course divergent views about the appropriate role and function of political parties. Current advocates of participatory, direct, deliberative, or strong democracy often regard parties with considerable suspicion, on the grounds that citizens should discuss issues and determine priorities within each community, uncontaminated by partisan bias. This perspective is hardly new as far back as the eighteenth century, Madison and Rousseau viewed party organizations as “sinister interests” prone to undermining, perverting, or usurping the will of
the majority.  Yet in reality direct forms of decision making such as referenda, initiatives, and community town hall meetings can only ever play a limited role in determining policy for and governing mass societies. At the level of the nation state, political parties are indispensable to the practical workings of government. Indeed, without
parties, modern representative democracy is simply unworkable.
Political parties can serve multiple functions. They are necessary to build and aggregate support among broad coalitions of citizens organizations and interest groups to integrate multiple conflicting demands into coherent policy programs, to select and train legislative candidates and political
Leaders to provide voters with choices among governing teams and policies and if elected to office to organize the process of government and stand collectively accountable for their actions in subsequent contests.  Representative democracy is impossible without multiparty competition. Political parties accordingly function uniquely and constitute a cornerstone of democratic society. The long list of their potential functions can be summarized under five key headings:
the integration and mobilization of citizens
the articulation and aggregation of interests
the formulation of public policy
the recruitment of political leaders
the organisation of parliament and government
Role of a political party:
Political party formulates its public policy on the basis of which they contest the election and release their set programmes and manifesto.
It conducts election campaigns to educate the public by explaining their policies through hectic canvassing through posters,pamphlets and meetings to turn the public opinion to their policy.
It sets up its candidates and tries to secure the support of the voters and to win in majority.
If it emerges victorious at the polls forms the government and the defeated party forms the opposition.both have to play an important role.The opposition criticises the government for its unpopular administration.The party in power tries to implement its programmes.
It establishes continuous link between the voters and their representatives in the legislature.
They participate in discussions in legislature and tries to convince other parties to accept their opinion.The opposition party makes the government responsive and keeps it alert and responsible.
The ruling party implements their policies efficiently or will face the anti-incumbency wave in next elections.
In brief,a political party acts as a link between the government and the individual,chooses candidates for election,educates and stimulates public opinion,assumes responsibility for the government,offers criticism and provides alternative government. 
Merits of political parties: 
Political parties make democracy not only possible but also successful.
They make the government stable as the majority is in power.
This system checks the growth of dictatorship.
It trains persons for leadership.
They bring put changes in government peacefully and saves the country from the danger of rebellions.
They impart political education among the people and makes them to think and remain politically active and alert.
They make the govt.not only responsible,but also responsive to the needs of people.
Political parties create a national ethos in the minds of the electorate and livens the sectarian and narrow interests of the electorate into national interests.
Parties promote discipline and order in the nation.
Political parties provide good governance for the well being of the public.
Parties cause unnatural divisions in a community and generate a lot of bitterness.
The legislature becomes a battlefield with the party in power supporting the bills and the opposition party trying to defeat them.
They crush individual freedom by issuing whips in legislature leaving very little discretion to act on their own.
Power concentrates into the hands of a few party bosses and the rank and file of the party have to willingly follow them.
Parties create a partisan attitude.Every political party emphasises its own interests and adopts methods to strengthen itself.
They,at the time of elections,misleads people by false propaganda and deliberate falsehood.
Political parties lead to spoils system.parties reward loyalty and confers offices on all its loyal servants which leads to corruption.
As the ruling party includes in the government those who belong to it and capable persons of opposition are left out.This deprives the services of capable persons.
This system causes a great harm to the nation as party interests are given the first place ignoring the national interests.
The anti-defection law which was passed by the parliament,so that party members follow the whip of the party among other things,further puts restriction on the individual liberty of the party members.
In a multi party system,instability of the government is a well known fact.
The leaders of the party cease to be broad minded and act selfishly to human wealth.
Party system leads to hero-worship.The members of the party obey his leader as a worshipper worships god.
Important roles: 
A.PROVIDING A VISION:
In a democracy,people who share similar political views and goals often come together to form political parties.They do this in order to strengthen their ability to influence the political and governmental decisions of their country.
Developing a message:A party’s ideology serves as the foundation of its overall message for governing.For instance,if a political party believes in democracy,it will generally send a message which promotes some form of representative government.
However,because democracy is such an unclear term,most party messages focuses on proposals that seek to address the needs and concerns of people,the party desires to represent.In order to do this effectively a party must do the following things:
Identify the needs and concerns of the people it wishes to represent(for example,better roads,schools,jobs etc.)
Develop policies which address whose needs and concerns(eg:party proposals to improve roads,school and economy) and
Devise ways for disseminating their ideas(eg:distributing party platforms and leaflets,writing new articles and press releases and talking on the radio).
Governing:delivering on promises:
In representative democracies,political parties that win elective offices participate directly in governing the nation.In order to govern effectively,parties must:
Know how the government works and operates(Eg:study the country’s government,law and constitution.)
Teach their members and candidates how to govern(Eg.produce educational guidebooks and conduct seminars)
Develop comprehensive plans for governing(party platforms,issue papers and transition outlines);and
Prepare plans so that,if it does not win enough elective offices to govern alone,it is ready to serve as a partner in a coalition government.
III. Democratic opposition:
In a democracy,the political parties which do not receive enough votes to win elective office still play a valuable role by serving as a voice for their members and supporters,as well as for other people who might oppose some of the policies and activities of the elected government.
PARTY BUSINESS 
Once established,political parties undertake a broad range of activities,administrative and otherwise to ensure their growth and success.
I.Organization:Modern political parties prepare for success by establishing well managed party structures.How well a political party organises itself internally,often determines the quantity of work it will accomplish and the amount of success it will achieve.In order to manage a party efficiently,it is prerequisite for the party to:
Establish a command management structure:individuals should be assigned specific rules and duties and be held accountable for carrying out those tasks to a supervisor or the party committee.It is important that decisions are made quickly,that work gets done and the party spends time talking to the people and not just each other at the office.Also,it it important that the person who is assigned a big job like keeping track of finances is not put in charge of issue research.
Constantly monitoring party’s structure and its progress:As the party grows,so also the tasks and responsibilities.Altering the party structure is necessary to address the party’s ever changing needs.
Assigning people to recruit and involve new party members:providing membership identification cards and information on the party’s positions.inviting prospective members to party activities.
Researching and monitoring governmental and constitutional laws and issues:political parties should know what’s going on in their country at all times.
Collecting information:parties should gather newspapers,news magazines and policy publications.They should get ideas and opinions from its members and non-member groups.For instance,asking cyclo drivers about traffic laws and conditions
Establishing and maintaining good relations with public:its important for parties to continually publicise their efforts and ideas.doing so allows them to expand their base of support and strengthen their identity
Monitoring the country’s laws and procedures
Recruiting and training party candidates:providing potential candidates with information on the party’s positions and current issues and training them to speak and becoming famous in the communities.
Raise money:parties should establish and carry out plans to raise money to cover their needs and expenses
II.opening and maintaining offices: 
it is important to maintain an office.choose the office according to the objectives,needs and resources.
III.planning regular party meetings and conferences to discuss current issues and party business.
IV.working together with other parties to ensure a free and fair electoral process:
Conducting multi-party meetings when monitoring the campaign or elections.
EDUCATING THE VOTERS
Political parties cannot depend on the election officials to educate voters.The political parties must educate voters if they want to be sure to win as many votes as possible.
6 questions the voters need to be answered:
Why should I vote?
What is the role of the constitution/parliament?
Do I need identification in order to vote?
Where should I go to vote?
How do I vote?
Is my vote secret?
PLANNING THE CAMPAIGN
A campaign is necessary for a political party to secure votes in an election.
CONTACTING THE VOTERS
How well a party does on election day is often determined by how well it communicated with the voters before the election.voter contact activities provide parties with many ways in which to communicate with the voters.such efforts are essential for encouraging and persuading people to both support and work for the party.The party who first and most effectively reaches the most voters usually wins.in order to reach and win the support of voters on election day,a party should implement a voter contact plan that includes the following:
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I.delivering an effective party message:
The message a political party or its candidates communicate verbally,visually assists the voters in determining whom to vote for.A party’s message generally summarizes its own vision of how the government should be run.To ensure that the voters understand its message,a party’s message should be distinguishable from the message of the other parties and it should be constantly repeated.
II.choosing and using a party logo:
A party’s logo,which is a image or a marking which symbolizes a party’s message should be highly visible,easily identifiable and should be present on all party campaign material.
A party must instruct its supporters in how to vote for it.The instructions should be simple and they should be repeated continually.
Target voters are those who are likely to be persuaded by the party’s message.before that,the party should know where all the voters are located and in what numbers.This kind of information can be obtained by going through the country’s demographics.Demographics explain such things as the age,gender,occupation,income,ethnicity,religion and living style of the voter.
Eg:A constituency has 5000 voters who earn 20,000/- a year and live in rural farm houses.
A party can contact voters by:
Distributing leaflets at the market,home campaign rallies or on street corners.
Visiting with the voter at their home
Holding campaign events and rallies.
Talking to specific groups of voters about specific issues that might interest them.
Organizing human posters.campaign workers holding up posters in highly travelled areas.
Having community leaders and others talk positively about the party to prospective voters.
Producing television,radio and newspaper advertisements.produce tv,radio and newspaper adds which contain the party’s message and a copy or description of the party’s logo.
Utilising free media.write press releases and invite the press to all newsworthy party events.
Posting posters.produce a poster that contain the party’s message,logo and possibly picture of party’s candidates.including information on how voters can contact the party.
Conducting general visibility activities.general visibility activities include such things as banners,campaign signs and sound vehicles.
BUILDING CONFIDENCE IN THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM 
Holding free and fair election is very important for the people and future of the country.it is also important that,the people and political parties know the elections are free and fair.The best way to know the elections are free and fair is for each of the parties to exercise their right to monitor the campaign and observe the voting on election day.
I.Monitoring the campaign:
During the campaign there are always many rumours about intimidation,violence and other campaign violations.it is very difficult for election officials and international election officers to make judgements about the quality of the campaign based on rumours.
That is why,it is important for political parties to document campaign violations.If someone reports a violation,a report should be written .
II.Monitoring the election:
Every registered political party has the right to have an agent present in every polling station.The best way for a party to know that the voting was fair in every polling station is to have a party agent monitor every polling station.There are 3 things a party agent needs in order to perform his job correctly:
Training.All party agents should know the election law.
Complaint forms.each agent should have a form to fill out each day recording any violations that they witness.
Reporting system.it is important the party agent knows how to contact the leadership of the party to report a significant violation.it is also important for the party leadership to receive a verbal or written report from the agent at the end of each day of the voting.
Therefore,it is clear from the above conclusion that political parties have great role to play in democracy.Parties are necessary for the success of democracy.without them,the aim for which democracy was instated in the country cannot be realised.it is necessary that government should allow parties with genuine aims to function by recognising them.Next,it is the duty of all the political parties to bring the grievances of the public to the notice of the government so as to bring welfare,rather than dividing the people on the basis of religion,caste etc.and promoting hate politics in the country.They should take into consideration the views of all sections of the population and should pressurise the government for maximising the welfare of the people.
Thus,if the political parties perform their functions honestly and responsibly,then definitely that day will not be far,when we see india as a developed country and not as a developing country.parties should include in their membership more and more youth who aspire to become leaders of the country one day and impart them necessary skills that are needed to lead the country.
Also,corruption should rooted out of the parties and there should be a separate corruption unit to take a vigil on the corruption that is going on in the party and indict those people who are involving in it.Another main paradox,that is going on in the parties these days is that some parties are biased towards some persons who help the party financially and the parties return the favour to them by giving them party tickets.In this way,the more efficient people are left out and the people who do not deserve to lead the country become the leaders.This leads to inefficiency in the administration and hinders the development of the country.
Now a days,corruption is growing in the parties.As the election near and if the parties are short of necessary funds that are needed for campaigning etc.,they borrow millions of funds from the industrialists .The industrialists get benefitted by this way in the way that,if the party to whom they lent funds comes to power,then the party formulates the industrial policies,which are pro-industrialists and which further their interests and maximises their profits.This leads to more inequalities of income and wealth and generates black money.
THE SCENARIO IN INDIA:
In india,there is a multi party system,so there are a number of parties competing for seats in the legislature.India is often described as ‘the haven of political parties’ because of the existence of many no.of parties and also because a party is floated by a person very easily.we can see,in india,that there have been instances,wherein people with almost no educational qualifications contest in the elections.This results in grave inefficiencies.so,the election commission should formulate rules with regard to the people contesting the elections.minimum educational qualification should be made mandatory for the people looking to contest in the election.
There are many political parties in India,in which some are national,while some are state parties.The following are the national parties recognised in india: