Importance of Political parties in a modern constitutional state cannot be overemphasized, the working of entire governmental machinery depends upon them. The fact of the matter is that political democracy cannot be conceived of Without political parties. They arc a motive force behind all state activity.
They put into practice the public opinion which they have been instrumental in moulding and expressing. They help in the formulation and expression of a general will which is the core of democracy.
According to Maclver, “The partly system was in particular the mechanism by which the class stale was transformed into the nation-stale Party attains fruition in democracy and democracy finds completion through party system.
The party system implies an elective and a representative system of government. It is through this institution that the government can be made answerable to the people and therefore responsive to the needs of the general masses and the community as a whole rather than a section of it.
The party system is based on the assumption that the people arc rational beings, arc able to exercise their franchise wisely and elect good government for them. Thus it provides a method for peaceful change of government without violent revolutions and coups.
It provides the much desired flexibility in the government structure. Political parties secure harmony of action among the various organs of the government. Some of the merits of political parties may be discussed as follows:
1. Formation of Public Opinion:
Political parties formulate ] public opinion. In democracy, every adult enjoys the right to vote. Every citizen is to express his or her opinion at the time of election. They place clear alternatives before the people. Citizens rally round different political parties and public opinion is thus organized into definite channels.
1. Political parties in this way provide an effective means for an organized expression of views on vital question of public policy. As Gotlle says, “In democracies they furnish the organization through which policies arc formulated and political propaganda is carried on for the purpose of creating and influencing public opinion.”
The political parties educate public opinion through their propaganda. They publish newspapers, magazines, journals and other printed literature for popularizing their programmes and politics. Moreover, they have a host of speakers who explain and defend party programmes through Press and Platform.
It is thus by means of Press and Platform that political parties impart education to the people. Lowell says that political parties serve as ‘the brokers of ideas’. The political discussion by parties enables the voter to find the truth for himself.
They raise issues, present facts, analyze them and present alternative solutions. The voter is gripped with the issues and can choose the solution that he considers best.
3. Public Spiritedness:
Political parties arouse popular interest in public affairs. It is due to this propaganda of political parties that every
party system person in modern democratic times appears to be attached to the public life of his or her country.
4. Essentials for Success of Parliamentary Democracy:
Political parties make parliamentary democracy a success. Parliamentary democracy cannot run without the help of two parties—the party in power and the party in opposition.
The majority partly forms the government and the minority parties form the opposition. The opposition criticizes the policy of the government and thereby exposes the weakness, inefficiency and drawbacks of the government. It seeks to defeat the party in power and tries to step into its shoes by winning over a majority in support of its policy.
The opposition plays an important role in the sense that it checks the despotic or arbitrary tendency of the government and makes it respond to popular needs.
5. Link between the Government and the People:
The political party belonging to the majority group in the legislature serves to maintain a link between the government and the people. Its rank and file explain and popularize the policies, pursued by the government.
The political organization maintains a continuous connection between the elected representatives and thus makes the government really representative. There is a greater harmony between the people and the government.
6. Co-ordination in different Organs:
Political parties serve to bring about a sort of co-ordination in the working of different organs of the government. They have played this role in the U.S.A. where the government is based on the principle of ‘separation of powers’.
They act as a unifying force. It makes for a continuous policy and continuity in administration. The executive and the legislature co-operate and formulate a unified policy.
7. Political Parties create Unity in the Nation:
Every party has to formulate programme that can appeal to all the voters, or at least to a majority. The class differences, therefore, get reconciled.
It is because of Political parties that the state has become a national state. Even when the Conservative party rules in Britain, it has to formulate its policies that can serve the national interests and promote interests of working class actively supported by its opponent, the Labour Partly.