Parties can be very different. But there are numerous characteristics according to which they can be distinguished and assigned to different types.
Concept of party
In political science, there is no shared definition of the political party. The problem begins with the question of whether unity or state parties in non-democratic systems also fall under the term.
Three elements or essential characteristics of the party
- It is a more or less firmly established = organized association of people;
- These people share common political views and interests;
- Their aim is participation in state rule = gaining government power.
The general term of the party deliberately leaves open how a party is specifically organized, what views and interests it represents, and what relationship it has with the people and the state. It thus offers a basis for typological differentiation.
Parties should and can be differentiated according to aspects
1. Ideological-political affiliation and program
This feature is found in most cases in the self-designation and naming of the parties and thus has a superordinate character. The affiliation of the parties is either linked to descriptive content or directional terms.
2. Historical origin and development
Parties can arise either in parliaments or in society. Starting in Great Britain, the factional parties historically preceded the extra-parliamentary parties. Today almost all new parties arise outside the parliaments.
3. Organization structure
Parties take on a mediator position between state and society. On the one hand, they articulate, shape, and channel the opinions and interests of citizens by making competing personal and programmatic offers in the elections.
4. Structure of the population groups
Another distinguishing feature focuses on the population groups that the parties want to reach preferentially in their dispute with their competitors. Here, too, a change can be observed over time, which reflects the ideological-programmatic development of the parties and the change in their organizational structures.
5. Goal orientation and functions in the political system
Participation in state rule was named as a general goal of parties in the definition of the term. In this sense, parties differ from other organized groups such as clubs or associations primarily through their participation in elections.
The five characteristics are not to be considered independently of one another, but mutually influence one another and show various overlaps.
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