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Chapter: 11th Political Science : Public Opinion and Party System

Role of Political Parties in a Democracy

For the effective functioning of a democracy, the existence of political parties that represent conflicting interests is mandatory.

Role of Political Parties in a Democracy

For the effective functioning of a democracy, the existence of political parties that represent conflicting interests is mandatory. While they advocate various interests and policies, largely political parties adopt Rightist ideology (conservative, traditional and capitalistic) or Leftist (pro-equality, liberal and labour interests). While it is true that political parties are essential for attaining the democratic ideal, the rise of individual parties with non-democratic agenda and authoritarian leadership is a critical challenge to Democracy. This is very relevant in the case of a multicultural, multilingual, multi religious and economically diverse country like India, only political parties can truly represent the multidimensional interests of people from every corner of the country. It is vital in a democracy like India that political parties exercise maturity and maintain a secular position, the precious and precarious unity and stability of India cannot be maintained. It is in the interests of the nation, that responsibly and principled parties show a level of maturity and responsibility in exercising their duties and functions for the sustainability of democratic institutions.

Role of Opposition in a Democracy

The relationship between party system and democracy will be incomplete without the discussion of the role of opposition parties in democracy. Democracy has no meaning without an effective opposition party or parties in the country. The nature of democracy is not only determined by the strength of ruling party alliance but also in the role and functioning of the opposition party alliance. In fact, the leader of the Opposition party enjoys the status and privileges of the rank of cabinet minister. A weak opposition leads to either a government without accountability or the tyranny of the majority.

Pressure or Interest groups also play an important role in special issues and events. These are organized groups, having common political and social interests, which influence decisions from outside. Pressure groups have voluntary membership and lobby for specific interests. Unlike political parties, pressure groups do not contest elections. The Pressure Groups are able to influence the government through various techniques with various public policy issues and are therefore called pressure groups. Professional pressure groups may include business interests, trade unions, Farmers, Teachers and Students, Doctors, culture groups, and institutional groups. Pressure Groups play an important role in the Indian political system by acting as a link and source of communication between the masses and the political parties. They sensitize the public towards vital socio-economic issues and through their lobbying, influence both the government and the administrative policies.


Psephology

Psephology deals with the study and statistical analysis of elections and polls. Public opinion polls play an important role in psephology. They analyze both Opinion Polls and Exit Polls as well as election results. Opinion Polls and Exit Polls are both important indicators  of voter’s choice during the elections.


The main difference between the two is that opinion poll is conducted before the voter actually votes and the exit poll is conducted after a voter comes out after casting his or her vote. Results of exit polls are generally considered to be more trustworthy than that of opinion polls.

The result of opinion polls may or may not actually collaborate the actual results. Yet they are important in generating opinions among the unsure and undecided as well as help to sustain a balance in voting practices for all parties concerned.

 

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