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Exam focus – Keypoint on party system and political parties, functions and arguments

Party system and political parties
A party system is a type of governmental political arrangement in which political parties are permitted to operate for the purpose of forming a government on political party basis. While a political party is an organized group of people who share similar political opinion, principles, interest and beliefs with the aim of gaining political power and governing in the country.
Features of political parties

  • They are organized groups.
  • They aim at contesting in an election, gaining political powers and governing a country.
  • They are made of people who share a similar political opinion. Principles, interests and beliefs.
  • They have ideologies they tend to implement when they come to power.
  • They are guided by different political party manifestoes.
  • They show loyalty to the electorate.
  • They use persuasive rather than coercive means income to power.
  • They have cohesive leadership.
  • Political parties draft their different constitution.

Types of political parties

  • Elitist Parties: Members of these parties are made up of people with high social status and standing like intellectuals, doctors, lawyer, tycoons, etc.
  • Mass Parties: They draw their members from all sections of the society and have a wide membership and any individual, wishing to join the parties are allowed
  • Broker’s Parties: These parties are formed with members drawn from the upper and lower classes of the society.
  • Missionary Or Religious Parties: They are formed based on religious doctrines and they appeal to religious sentiment in order to win votes.
  • Charismatic Or Personality Parties: These are political parties formed or led by individuals with charisma.

Functions of political parties

  • Selection and appointment of leaders and personnel for a government.
  • Education of the electorate.
  • Stimulating and arousing the interest of the electorate.
  • Serve as a bridge that connects people to the government.
  • Dissemination of information on government policies.
  • Organization for the running of government.
  • Provide the electorate possible options of choosing good leaders.
  • They discipline their erring members.
  • Streamline divergent to the government.
  • Act as a watchdog to the government.

Types of party system
One party system: A political party system in which one political party is legally and constitutionally allowed to operate or through the gradual elimination of other political parties through the electoral process.
Characteristics of one- party system

  • There is only one legally and constitutionally recognized party.
  • The recognised party is the ruling party.
  • There is no official opposition.
  • An election is contested by one party.
  • Attempt to form other political party is regarded as an act of treason.
  • The existence of another political party is illegal and unconstitutionally.
  • There is only one ideology for the state.
  • Mass media are centrally controlled.
  • Press freedom is curtailed.
  • The news item published by the mass media are censored.

Merits of one –party system

  1. National integrity
  2. Strong leadership
  3. Political stability
  4. The absence of election violence
  5. Non-occurrence of rigging
  6. Prevent waste of resources
  7. Leads to economic development
  8. In accord with Africa traditional democracy
  9. The absence of sectionalism and favouritism
  10. Suit our level of political maturity
  11. Removes unhealthy political rivalry
  12. Makes for quick decision making
  13. Full use of all available talents.

Demerits or dangers of one party system 

  1. It is undemocratic
  2. Leads to dictatorship
  3. Encompasses oppression
  4. Leads to coup
  5. Limit political education
  6. Neglect public opinion
  7. It abridges the human right
  8. The absence of watchdog to government
  9. Fosters elitist philosophy
  10. Obviates smooth change of government
  11. It is antithetic to the principle of rule of law.

Two- Party System: Is a political system in which only two political parties are legally and constitutionally allowed to operate or two major political parties dominate in winning a substantial portion of the votes and form government alternatively.
The argument for a two-party system   

  1. Widens political education
  2. Is more democratic in nature
  3. Prevention of dictatorship
  4. Provision of alternative party
  5. Guarantee political association
  6. Acts as a watchdog to the government
  7. It guarantees a stable political system
  8. Allows for a smooth change of government
  9. Guarantees the expression of public opinion.

The argument against a two-party system

  1. Leads to disunity
  2. It is too expensive
  3. Waste of resources
  4. Leads to unhealthy rivalry
  5. Encourages election rigging
  6. It leads to polarization of citizens of the country
  7. Marginalization of minority interest
  8. Leads to political instability
  9. Leads to uneven development.

Multi-party system: A political system in which more than two political parties are allowed to compete for political power and governance.
Advantages of multi-party system

  1. Widens political education
  2. Provision of wider choice
  3. Permits human right
  4. Gives room for democracy
  5. Acts as a watchdog to government
  6. Allows more shades of opinion
  7. Guarantees smooth change of government
  8. Permits a wide range of ideologies
  9. Prevent the emergence of a dictator
  10. Encourages the formation of a coalition government

Disadvantages of a multi-party system

  1. It is expensive to run
  2. Waste of resources
  3. It is un- African
  4. Prone to election rigging
  5. Encourages election violence
  6. Leads to unhealthy rivalry
  7. Does not suit our level of political maturity
  8. Encourage corruption in the parliament
  9. Leads to national disintegration
  10. Leads to political instability.

Factors that may aid or determine the electoral success of the political party in a country

  1. Effective organization
  2. Strong financial base
  3. Broad- base membership
  4. Effective campaign
  5. Party patronage
  6. Impartial electoral commission
  7. Effective and efficient leadership
  8. Good policies and programmes
  9. Effective propaganda machinery
  10. Education of the electorate
  11. Establishment of other institution
  12. Enforcement of party discipline.

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