Political Parties (Controllers of Government and their Opposition)


Kinds and Functions

Political parties have several functions such as stating positions of issues, providing candidates, and holding officials responsible for their acts, are only a few of their most important responsibilities. The goal of a political party is easily stated, to gain control of the government. A political party has little reason to exist unless its member takes control of the political system. In democracy, political parties gain and keep control of government through electoral system.
There are three kinds of political party system;

A Single Party System

It exists when one party dominates the political system so completely that it controls the vast majority of legislative seats and its choice for the chief executive is assured of parties in the country, but none of them is able to win more than a tiny fraction of vote. Many people equate it with dictatorship. Although dictators often try to hinder their competitors by making opposition parties illegal, a single party system need not to be a dictatorship. Leaders are still chosen by the people and the competition that ordinarily takes place between parties occurred within single-party democracies. It can be found in Mexico and in India as well.

India, before the usurpation of power by Indira Gandhi between 1975 and 1977, was a single-party democracy. The Congress party was founded by an overwhelming majority of the people, often winning as many as two-thirds of seats in the National parliament and the states legislature. India, however, provides a dramatic example of the greatest problem of a single-party system. However, such a system can be used in a democracy where oppositions is so small and weak that it can do little to hinder the dominant party if its leaders decide to destroy the democratic process. Therefore, it was with Gandhi’s feeling, that her personal power threatened, she imprisoned her opinion, censored the press, intimated the courts, and eliminated popular liberties. When she had finished, the Indian democracy was in ruins. Predictably, all this was done in the name of democracy and an ordered society. To her credit, however, Gandhi restored democracy to India in 1977, accepting her own parliamentary defeat in the process. Since 1985, Pakistan’s case is the same.

A Two Party System

This type of system exists when only two parties have a meaningful chance of winning control of government, used in several countries, including Australia, England, and United States of America as well. This system has the advantages of the single party system without running the same risk of becoming a dictatorship. We have learned that the greatest advantages of the single party system are that it produces a strong government; its candidates always win with a majority vote of the citizens. If the system has two major parties instead of only one, elected officials also usually, win with a majority, yet the dominant party is checked by a substantial opposition party.

The concept of a loyal opposition party was developed in England. While the monarch was active executive, no party could safely oppose the government’s policies because the monarch was also head of state, and opposition to the state was considered treason. However, when the monarch ceased to govern actively and began to depend on the prime minister to make and carry out policy it became possible to oppose the government and to remain loyal to the state at the same time. Today this process formalized to such an extant that stipends and official titles are granted to majority and minority parties. The majority party organizes “Here Majesty’s Opposition”, which is officially responsible for criticizing and offering alternatives to the policies of the majority.

Though the “Two Party System” does have a strong opposition party, it offers only a single minority viewpoint. An old notion is that there are two sides to every question, reminds us that issues are more complex than they might appear at first glance. Actually, of a two party system is also limiting because single, effective opposition party excludes other minority point of view.

A Multi-Party System

It exists when there are several parties that have a significant number of seats in the legislature. It best reflects the various minority arguments. In facts the Multi-Party System leads to divide the people into so many different factions that the majority is lost, leaving only a set of minorities.

A Multi-Party System commonly exists when a society lacks the willingness or ability to compromise. Many minority parties develop as a result and they lead to state their differences in very specific term. This diversity gives the voter many clear alternatives among which to choose, but at the same time, it makes it harder to produce a majority. The proliferation of alternatives and debates in this system are admirable. However, the lack of compromise as well as the inability to produce a major party make this otherwise attractive system but less appealing. Reason and experience show that the Multi-Party System can function in a parliamentary cabinet form of government; it is less compatible with the Presidential Congressional System. No party that fails to carry the majority of seats in parliament can govern without forming a coalition of minority parties that agree on policy and on selections for the various cabinet positions. Coalition governments are noted for their instability, they usually do not last long because the delicate agreements on which they are founded are soon outdated by new events. When a coalition destroys itself, a new one must 
be organized, and this usually requires an election.

Unstable as this procedure may be, the parliamentary-cabinet system can accommodate it because in this system terms of officers are not fixed by law, not so in the Presidential-Congressional System. Even if there is no majority in the legislature, the executive and legislative officials must serve uninterruptable terms of several years of governmental stagnation or worse may result for example, Pakistan’s political scene 1954-1958, 1977 and 1992. The lack of a majority government also leads to make the Multi-Party System less than desirable, in fact, as we have seen, it is incompatible with the Presidential-Congressional System.