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Chapter 6: Political Parties
Political parties are easily one of the most visible institutions in a democracy. For most ordinary citizens, democracy is equal to political parties.
If you travel to remote parts of our country and speak to the less educated citizens, you could come across people who may not know anything about our Constitution or about the nature of our government.
But chances are that they would know something about our political parties. At the same time this visibility does not mean popularity.
Most people tend to be very critical of political parties. They tend to blame parties for all that is wrong with our democracy and our political life. Parties have become identified with social and political divisions.
Therefore, it is natural to ask do we need political parties at all? About hundred years ago there were few countries of the world that had any political party.
Now there are few that do not have parties. Why did political parties become so omnipresent in democracies all over the world?
Let us first answer what political parties are and what they do, before we say why we need them.
A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. They agree on some policies and programmes for society with a view to promoting the collective good.
Since there can be different views on what is good for all, parties try to persuade people why their policies are better than others. They seek to implement these policies by winning popular support through elections.
Thus, parties reflect fundamental political divisions in society. Parties are about a part of the society and thus involve PARTISANSHIP.
Thus a party is known by which part it stands for, which policies it supports and whose interests it upholds.
A political party has three components: l the leaders, l the active members and l the followers Functions What does a political party do?
Basically, political parties fill political offices and exercise political power.
Parties do so by performing a series of functions:
1 Party contest elections. In most democracies, elections are fought mainly among the candidates put up by political parties. Parties select their candidates in different ways.
In some countries, such as the USA, members and supporters of a party choose its candidates. Now more and more countries are following this method.
In other countries like India, top party leaders choose candidates for contesting elections. Parties put forward different policies and programmes and the voters choose from them.
Each of us may have different opinions and views on what policies are suitable for the society. But no government can handle such a large variety of views.
In a democracy, a large number of similar opinions have to be grouped together to provide a direction in which policies can be formulated by the governments.
This is what the parties do. A party reduces a vast multitude of opinions into A government is expected to base its policies on the line taken by the RULING PARTY.
Parties play a decisive role in making laws for a country. 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 opinions.
Parties form and run governments. As we noted last year, the big policy decisions are taken by political executive that comes from the political parties.
Parties recruit leaders, train them and then make them ministers to run the government in the way they want.
Those parties that lose in the elections play the role of opposition to the parties in power, by voicing different views and criticising the government for its failures or wrong policies. Opposition parties also mobilise opposition to the government.
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NCERT Solutions Class 11 Social Science Chapter 6 Political Parties
1. State the various functions political parties perform in a democracy
The functions performed by the political parties are:
- They contest elections.
- They introduce various policies and programmes for the people.
- They play an important role in decision-making to legislate and execute.
- These parties, when successful in elections, form and run the government.
- These parties, if they lose, become the opposition parties and play the role of criticizing the government.
- The parties mould the public’s opinion on various issues. They can help them form an opinion and can also influence them to alter their opinion.
- These parties help the citizenry to access the government’s policies and acts.
2. What are the various challenges faced by political parties?
There are some challenges that political parties have to face:
- The lack of internal democracy – If there is a concentration of power in the hands of one or only a few ministers in the party, it gives space to internal conflicts.
- The dynastic succession – This has been in the political parties from time immemorial. The leader of the party sets a lineage and one after another, a dynastic succession keeps taking place, which affects the chances of other ministers in the party to gauge an effective position in the party.
- Money and muscle power – The participation of smaller regional parties is lesser due to growing prominence of muscle and money power. These powers can mostly be seen during the election period where parties’ rich candidates can gain more votes using both of these.
NCERT Class 11 Social Science Textbook Chapter 6 Political Parties With Answer PDF Free Download