Parties Definitions and Functions
Political parties – organizations that offer slates of candidates to voters at
election time. Also referred to as “voluntary associations of people who hold
broadly similar opinions on public question”.
Note* - while most parties do hope to elect candidates to office, and some
even have a realistic prospect of electing enough candidates to form a
government, other parties may contest elections chiefly to get their ideas
onto the public stage. ex. Marijuana party
7 functions political parties play in a democracy
1. Integrating citizens into the political system – parties serve as links
between citizens and government
2. Developing policy – different parties represent different ideological
3. Elite recruitment – most people who are elected federally or
provincially are involved with a political party
4. Organization of government – governing parties propose and
opposition parties oppose. Provides a partisan structure to the process
of law making and debate amongst public affairs
5. Structuring the vote – the fact that only a handful of political parties
are serious contenders for citizens, each party represents in a sense, a
particular selection on a limited menu.
6. Organizing public opinion – parties are often characterized as right
wing, left wing, or centrist; as liberal, conservative or socialist or by
some other set of labels.
7. Interest aggregation – Parties, especially parties that hope to form a
government, must aggregate different interests.
Brokerage politics – style of politics that stresses the ability of parties to
accommodate diverse interests, a feat that requires flexibility in policy
positions and ideological stance.