Meaning And Definition Of Party System And Political Parties: Types, Advantages And Disadvantages

Table Of Contents

  • Definition Of Party System
  • Definiion Of Political Party
  • Characteristics Of Political Parties
  • Types Of Political Parties
  • Functions Of Political Parties
  • Advantages Of Party System And Political Parties
  • Disadvantages Of Party System And Political Parties
  • Factors Which Determine The Electoral Success Of A Political Party
  • Types Of Party System
  • Zero Party System
  • One Party System
  • Two-Party System
  • Multi-Party System

Definition Of Party System

A party system may be defined as a type of government political arrangement in which political parties are permitted to operate for the purposes of forming a government on political party basic. Party system is imperative for elections to be conducted with ease in this complex nature of modern day politics and society. The constitution specifies the number of political parties that are to operate in any country. The formation of government on part basis therefore depends on the party that wins majority votes in an election.

Definition Of Political Party

A political party may be defined as organised groip of people who share similar with the aim of gaining political power and govrning the country. It is thje electoral commission of a country that determins which political associations that qualify as political parties. Political associations therefore metamophose into political poarrties after undergoing a lot of specified processes. In United States Of America, two political parties Republican and Democratic parties exist. In Nigeria, during the second republic that ended on December 31, 1983, N.P.P., U.P.P., G.N.P.P., P.R.P. and N.A.P. Operated. Political parties have their own constitutons that direct the conduct of their political activites in the country they exist.

Characteristics Or Features Or Attributes Of Political Parties

1. Political parties are organised groups based on the electoral commission’s laid down rules.

2. They aim at contesting elections, gaining political power and governing a country.

3. Political parties are made of people who share similar political opnions, principles, interests and beliefs.

4. Political parties have ideologies they tend to implement when they come to power.

5. They are guided by different political party manifestoes.

6. They show loyalties to electorate who determine their political successes in order to win elections.

7. Political parties use persuasive rather than coercive means in coming to power.

8. They have cohesive leadership.

9. Political parties draft their different constitutions that direct the conduct of their political activities.

10. They abide by conventional principle of collectives and individual responsibilities.

11. Good political parties are organised to reach everybody in the society.

12. Political parties express their views on everyt subject and matter that affect the society as a whole.

Types Of Political Parties

1. Elitist/Cadre Parties:

These are types of political parties that draw their members from the highest echelon of the social hierarchy in a country. That is to say that members sre made up of people with high social status and standing like intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, tyccoons, traditional rulers, etc. Elitist parties that are conservative in nature believe in quality not quantity and that responsible men and women of substance rather than riff-raffs and ragamuffins should control the affairs of any government of a country.

2. Mass Parties:

There are political parties that draw their members from all sections of the society and have wide membership and any individual wishing to join the parties is allowed. These parties direct theirs actions and appeal to the masses of the people in a country. Mass parties take such names as Peoples Party, Labour Party, Workers Party, etc, and their manifestoes are aimed at alleviating and ameliorating the suffering of the masses.

3. Broker Parties:

These parties are formed with members drawn from the upper and lower classes of the society. Their main aim is to reconcile the conflicting interests of the rich and the poor by carrying out policies of social justice for the interest of all.

4. Missionary Or Religious Parties:

They are formed based on reliious doctrines and they appeal to religious sentiments in order to win votes. Members of these political parties are mainly religious fanatics and the born-again.

5. Charismatic Or Personality Parties:

These are political parties formed or led by individuals with charisma. They revolve around the personal qualities of their leaders. At times, the death of their leaders leads to the end of the parties or decline of their electoral successes. Examples of these political parties may includes T.A.N.U. led by Dr. Julius Nyerere, U.P.N. with Late Chief Awolowo as its leader N.P.P. under the leadership of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, etc.

6. Ideological Parties:

These are political parties which are based on different political ideologies or beliefs which form the bases of existence of these parties. For example; Communist Party of Russia, Chinese Socialist Party, Fascist Party of Italy, etc.

Functions Of Political Parties Or Reasons For The Formation Of Political Parties

1. Political parties help to select and appoint leaders and personnel for goveernment of a country through election procsses.

2. The electorate of a country are educated by political parties through their political rallies which make them (electorate) to knoe their political rights.

3. Political parties play the role of stimulating and arousing the interests of the electorate in participating in elections by performing their civic responsibility of voting.

4. Political Parties serve as a bridge that connects and makes it possible for people of a country to get nearer the government with their numerous problems.

5. They play important role of dissemination of information on government policies to the members of the public thereby bridging the communication gap between the government and the governed.

6. Politcal parties serve as oranisations for the running of government, absence of which makes for rowdy political atmosphere that leads to political instability.

7. The existence of political parties provides the electorate possible options of choosing good leaders on the people of a country.

8. Political parties serves as uniting factor for sectional interests and bridge the distance gap between people of a country which cut across ethnic or religious lines thus promoting national unity.

9. In order to win future elections political parties persuade their members who are in power to be accountable to the electorate who have the power of rejecting them in any future elections.

10. Political parties discipline their erring members which makes them to be more responsive to heir duties and to the needss of the people.

11. Political parties not in power acts as watchdogs to the one in power and provide constructive criticisms to the government of a country.

12. Party manisfestoes help government of a country in formulating its prolicies.

13. The existence of political parties in a countr helps to streamline divergent public opinions.

14. Political parties act as agents of innovations, inventions, modernisation and change which serve as strategies for winning elections.

15. They help government in power to carry out its policies and implement its decisions if they are for the good of the people.

16. Without the existence of political parties, the conduct of elections could have been rowdy, unorganized and less interesting.

17. Finally, political parties perform welfare, social and humanitarian functions like building of recreational centres, provision of job opportunities, holding dances, picnics and concerts.

Advantages Or Merits Of Party System And Political Parties

1. The existence of political parties in a country makes democracy possible to thrive.

2. Political parties bring peopole who share similiar political opinions, principles, interest and befiefs on the country’s problem together and provide avenue for the expression of such views.

3. Party systems promote national unity because politcal parties serve as a unity because political serve as a uniting factor for sectional interest and bridge the distance gap between people of a country whic cut across ethnic or religious lines.

4. The existence of political parties makes peaceful change of government in a country possible.

5. Opposition parties act as the watchdogs to the government of a country and that brings about good government.

6. People of a country use party platforms to criticise the government in power and such criticisim are listened to for the fear of the government being removed in future elections.

7. Party systems provide for periodic elections which make for stable government.

8. Political parties maintain orderliness and discipline in the elctoral system of a country.

9. Party systems have the advantage of the elecorate of a country being educated politically by political parties through their rallies.

10. Another merit of the existence of political parties is that they help in stimulating and arousing the interest of the electorate in participating in elections.

11. Through political association, it is easy to select those to represent the people and man diffferent posts in the goverrnment of a country.

12. The government in power can easily formulate its policies with the use of party manifestoes.

13. Political parties help to streamline divergent public opinions in a country.

14. The existence of political parties provides the electorate possible options of choosing good leaders.

Disadvantages Or Demerits And Criticisms Of Party Systems And Political Parties

1. Political parties polarize people of a country into different segments which does not make for peace and unity among the people.

2. Party system breeds partisan politics which displaces patriotism for party loyalty.

3. By selecting candidates who stand for elections, these candidates are imposed on the electorate thereby depriving them of their choice.

4. A lot of public funds are wasted in maintaining political parties, their members and the paraphernalia that go with them.

5. Party system makes members of the parliament vote according to party directives instead of voting according to their wished.

6. Political parties breed nepotism, favouritism and ethnocentrism which compelled Alexander Pope to dscribe politcal parties as the “Madness of the many for the gain of the few”.

7. Political lobbying associated with party system breeds bribery and corruption.

8. Politics associated with party system scares away many talented citizens who consider such political party politics as dirty.

9. Appointment of government officials such as ministers is based on party loyalty and not on merit and which leads to enthronement of mediocrity in polace of meritocracy.

10. Party systems lead to the neglect of some areas in a country especially areas that failed to vote for the party in power which leads to uneven development.

Factors Which Determine The Electoral Successs Of A Political Party

1. The Party Programmes And Manifesto: A good party programme or manifesto will ensure adequate support for the party at polls.

2. Record Of Past Performance If Any: A political party with an impressive record of past performance has goodd chances over its rivals.

3. Leadership: The leadership of the party is also relevant in determining the election success of a political party.

4. Finance: A fincancially strong political party will have enough money to engage the services of qualified personnel, organize campaigns and rallies and produce party emblems etc. All these may enhance the succcess of the party at the polls.

5. Utity And Cohesion within The Party: Absence of internal wranglings/divisions or crisis can enhance the success of a party at elections.

6. Party Patronage: The ability of the political party to attract the support of influential personalities or organisations in society may enhance its successes.

Types of Party System

The type of party system to be adopted in a country depends greatly on the number of active political associations that met the requirement for registration of political parties and the number of political parties specified in the constitution.

1. Zero-Party System

A zero-party system exists where elections are conducted and contested based on personal atributes, capabilities and programmes presented by individuals. Candidates do not contest elections under the banner or on the platform of any political party.

2. One Party System
One party system may be defined as a political system in which only one political party is legally and constitutionally allowed to operate or through gradual elimination of other political parties through the electoral processes. The formation or existence of other political parties apart from the party legally recognised or perpetuated in power in one party state is regarded as an act of treason which may earn the leaders of such parties imprisonment, deportation or are detained. One or single party system operates better in a smaller country both in populatoon and land mass and non multiccultual society. Some African countries like Nkrumah’s Ghana. Guinea uinder Ahmed Toure, Kenyatta’s Kenya, Zaire, Tansania, Zambia, etc, have at one time or the other operated one party system.

3. Two-Party System

A two-party system may be defined as a politcal system in which only two political parties are legally and constitutionally allowed to operate or two major political parties dominate in winning substantial portion of the votes and form government alternatiely. Only two political parties were legally allowed to operate in Nigeria during the ill-fated Third Republic bewen 1992 and 1993. Two dominant political parties- the conservative and the labour parties exist in Great Britain thereby making it a two party state even though a party like the liberal party operates in the same political system. Countries like U:S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. adopted two-party system.

4. Multi-Party System

A multi-party system may be defined as a political system in which more than two political parties are allowed to compete for gaining of political power and governing the country. In a multi-party system, one party seldom wins a clear-cut majority of seats in the parliament to enable it form the government. This inability of one party to win a clear-cut Majority of seats in the parliament leads to the formation of a coalition government.

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