Political parties are organizations formed to attain political power in governments. This is usually achieved through an electoral system where they campaign and are elected. Sometimes they get there through protests and outreach. Parties usually have their vision in a written form with specific goals to be achieved; political parties are, therefore, formed by a group of disparate individuals who share similar interests. They usually participate in either first-past-the-post system of voting, where, in most cases, only two parties vie for power or proportional representation, where more parties can be involved. In addition, parties tend to exhibit different styles depending on their strengths, in a non-partisan system; there are no official political organizations. For instance, Nebraska in the United States is a non-partisan state and this includes Nunavut and Northwest territories in Canada.
Depending on each country’s legislation, one party can be allowed to dominate, like in a single-party state, two, multi or even balance party systems. These parties usually get their funding from external contributions and party members as well as sometimes from the government during elections, but the latter depends on each country. The parties may be, communist, conservatives, liberals, socialist, libertarian, green well as Christian democratic, among others. These parties represent different interests and ensure that majority of similar interests are given power in an election. The party that governs, therefore, must be one that has the interest of the majority. This way, they democratically gain power and are accountable because the people are not bound to them, if they change their views once elected, other parties and groups act as watchdogs. They enlighten people on good governance and push for correction in the next election. This way, policies of interest are enacted, thereby t representing people’s power in government.
Comparison of the roles of political parties in democratic and non-democratic states
Political parties overlap in their roles and functions on both types of government systems although there are distinct functions and roles associated with each. In democratic governments, parties draw people who share in their political ideas and philosophies. In most cases, they would not agree on everything, but those are the reasons for the creations of factions. Parties usually represent the means to political power and any that wins, take the executive responsibilities in the government to achieve its ideas and philosophies. They also have the responsibility of providing leaders, who may succeed to be government leaders. This is usually done through pre-elections where the party leaders are given their mandate by electorates. These parties also provide both opposition and the government; parties that win majority seats form a government while parties that come in second become the official opposition. This usually sets the stage for debates between the opponents regarding government policies and governance.
Roles of parties include articulating policies, which are represented to electorates for approval. They also develop policies and these are commonly presented during campaigns. Community groups, such as pressure groups, trade unions, among others tend to affiliate themselves to a certain political party, in the process, pushing forward their agenda for policy formulations. Non-democratic states usually give single-party dominance over the others, in this case, the other parties are forced into accepting this dominance, and thus all those who want to lead government are only given one avenue, to work through the single party. This kind of governance usually amounts to dictatorship, and suppression of other rights. The party’s role, in this case, is usually to formulate its policies and pursue them, these policies are usually presented to the people although rejection still goes on since there are no strong oppositions to the party.
The type of system has in Canada, the United States, Germany, Spain, and Italy?
Over the centuries, political systems of governance have evolved stretching back to ancient times dominated by monarchs and colonialism. During those times, democracy was rarely practiced. In the modern party systems presented in Europe, America and other parts of the world, democracy and constitutionalism have taken shape, with people increasingly getting opportunities to exercise their democratic rights. For instance, political parties in Canada started back in 1608 with Champlain, Frontenac, Laval, with reformers coming through much later in the 1800s as well as patriots. From the 1800s, it was Tory parties, dealing with reforms through to the 1850s, when the liberal-conservative party came up. This went through the great coalition in the 1860s with parties forming in the new dominion. Eras of Mackenzie, McDonald, abbot and Laurier in the early 1900s followed, but still with the dominant liberal party. This evolution went on through the unionist government in the 1910s who had dethroned liberalists with the rise of many other parties like progressive. Presently the main parties include the liberals, conservatives, bloc Quebecois and new democratic. Other parties without seats presently include Christian heritage, communist among others. Canada evolved from a non-democratic single party to a multi-party system, which has paved way for democracy.
United States political system evolved since the 1860s when the federal government was established with the acquisition of the southern states, It was mainly dominated by republicans although democrats, through their mystic destiny took control, other parties that rose in early 1900 was Theodore Roosevelt’s progressive party that did not succeed. The United States evolved from the first party system to the second, third, fourth and fifth which is argued to have ended with the New deal coalition in the 1950s. Modern systems have seen two dominant parties Democratic and Republicans feasting on the powers with very minimal opposition from other parties. Germany started with communist and Nazism but this ended after world war two when the Christian Democratic union was formed and has since been in coalition with its sister party Christian socialist party to control the government since 1957. Spain on the other hand has seen an evolution into a parliamentary system with many political parties in a democratic system. Italian system has with time evolved from the monarch and autocratic systems. Italy continued with monarchy until 1948 when the king was replaced by a president in a democratic system where a premier elected by people governs the country, the current parties include communists, conservatives and socialists among others.
The differences in the functions of political parties and pressure groups
Political parties have the role of articulating policies, which are represented to electorates for approval, they also formulate policies that govern their organizations and expect these policies to be followed in governing the country once elected. On the other hand, pressure groups usually act as watchdogs; they look at any faults from the policies formulated and work to change them. In most cases, they work out as reform groups with the main objectives of pushing for reforms and ensuring parties that affiliate with them implement them. Pressure groups in Canada include the Business-financed council on national issues, Canadian manufacturers, the medical association, tax foundation, and the chamber of commerce, among others.
These pressure or interest groups look to influence policies formulated by the parties and are very large constituting virtually another wing of government. Their numbers are so extensive, and therefore command great influence making them formidable in changing any government, thus leading to their participation in processes of policymaking. This has improved democracy in the country with more stakeholders getting involved in these formulations. Democratic governments often register these groups as a way of showing their commitment providing freedom of speech and opinion to the members of such groups. This is very critical in their push to improve democracy.
The issues of abortion, the environment, gun control, and capital punishment
Recent times have seen several pressure groups emerge with different ideas and philosophies. Key among them has been issues related to abortion, gun control, capital punishment and the environment. This has raised rigorous debates, as people doubt the credibility of these interest groups who purport to serve the interest of Canadian public. The 19th century saw criminalisation of abortions in Canada following the death of an alarming 4000-6000 women. This pressure started in 1960s and in 1967, only special cases were given a hearing over it. Different provinces in Canada have taken the issue in disparate ways with Quebec and Nova Scotia providing partial funding for abortion, while Manitoba and New Brunswick opting to pay penalties rather than sponsor. This among other issues related to gun acquisition, capital punishment and the environment have filled Canadian politics with these purported interest groups pushing to change them.
These pro-abortion activists know they are fighting lost battles and therefore try to claim representation of the larger population to pass their philosophies. Anti –abortion pressure groups have so far won their battles and have kept abortion pills like RU-486 away from Canadian reach. Recent sentiments by Prime Minister Harper imply that any legislation on abortion will not be tolerated. Interests groups still push for these reforms and it remains to be seen how they get their representations since they claim to talk for Canadian citizens.