From the dawn of the civilized life, human beings have always organized themselves into groups and large formations, for a variety of collective purposes - social, cultural, economic and political. A party is an organization for collective life. Indeed organized society alone is a party. Political party system is a modern phenomenon. It is less than 200 years old.
The founding fathers of United States did not believe in the party system. They thought its influence was bad. Parties and party systems emerged in Europe, North America and Japan around the third decade of nineteenth century. Much later, it came into full force in other countries.
Political parties are indispensable for a democracy. Democracies in the contemporary world are representative in character. In representative form of government political parties educate the public and inculcate interest to take part in active politics.
A political party has been defined as an organized body of people who stand for certain principles and policies in political life of the country, by whose co - operation they seek to promote the interest of the country as a whole. According to,
(I) Edmund Burke :
'A political party is a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest, upon some particular principle in which they all are agreed.'
(II) Stephen Leacok :
' By a political party we mean more or less an organized group of citizens who act together as political unit'
(III) Gilchrist :
'A Political party is an organized group of citizens who professes to share the same political views'
Representative government and representative institution require the existence of political parties. Parties provide link between the citizens and government, and between electorate and the representative institutions.
In a political system, parties act as the transmitter of ideas, opinions and approaches to social needs and national goals. They subscribe to certain ideals and ideology and promote certain political values. They are expected to provide political education to citizens, widen their awareness of social problems and mobilize them for political participation and election and for socio economic development.
Parties also serve the purpose of creating leadership by recruiting and training activists and providing personnel to run representative from local government to legislature, to parliament and government development.
Political parities are vehicles of political powers. They work for eradication of social evils like illiteracy, untouchability etc. They work fro the alleviation of sufferings of the people during days of famine, drought etc. They perform the job of political mobilization and recruitment. They also perform social welfare functions for the benefit of the people.