Political party - what kind of organization ?. Modern political parties
Translated from the Greek "politics" - "the art of governing the state", and "Pars" - "part". Consequently, a political party is a part of the population participating in the government of the state or seeking to do so.
Why do we need political parties
A political party is, in fact, the only opportunity for the people to take a real part in governing the country.
Because it is done either by a dictator - the king, emperor, or the lifelong ruler of a totalitarian state, or by representatives of the elite - noblemen, elders, the most respected or wealthy members of society. In neither case, the majority of the people have the opportunity to express their opinion about the governance of the country. Rather, there is one way - and this method is called a riot. That is how they expressed dissatisfaction with the rule of monarchs in England and France, Russia and Italy. The result was usually very sad.Coup is not the best way to change the political course of the country, it has too many side effects.
Slowly but surely, the states of Europe, and beyond them the rest of the world, moved towards the understanding that a political party is the simplest and most effective way of regulating public life.
The evolution of political parties
There are political parties and movements for more than one thousand years. They appeared in ancient Greece as a tool for the realization of the people’s right to govern. In Athens, there were parties of the inhabitants of the mountains and the inhabitants of the valleys, the party of noble citizens and the mob. Aristotle’s notes contain much information about the political struggle in ancient Greece. Of course, these were not modern political parties - organizations are solid, with a strict hierarchy and clear goals. In ancient Greece, such public associations had no permanent composition or coherent program. These were just a few groups of people with similar interests and needs. For an extremely simple ancient Greek democracy, such an expression of popular opinion was enough.
In a certain form, the party existed in the days of absolute monarchy - the Middle Ages, the Renaissance.Again, these were not organizations in the modern sense, but rather temporary associations of influential people. They were created to achieve a specific goal and had nothing to do with democracy. The maximum that such a political party claimed was to gain influence at the court, thus ensuring itself power and certain material benefits. These groups had no influence on the absolutism of the monarchy. On the contrary, the goal of each of them was either to achieve the king’s favor, to become a favorite, or to subordinate him to himself, forcing him to make decisions that would correspond to the interests of the leading party.
The emergence of political parties of the modern type
Modern political parties emerged only after the elimination of absolute monarchy. It was after the bourgeois revolutions that political life in European countries acquired the forms that can be seen today. Before that, they simply could not physically exist.
In Europe, universal suffrage was introduced.
If earlier any discussions were limited to debates in parliament, that is, only the interests of the nobility were taken into account, then after giving the right to vote to the people, it became necessary to take into account their interests.Before the bourgeois revolution, society was divided into nobles, merchants and mob. Social differentiation has led to the emergence of new classes. For the first time, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat became a real political force and public organizations began to fight for their sympathies. There was a need for clear programs that can be presented to voters in order to attract votes. People needed to be interested, to attract in order to secure a victory in the elections. The activities of political parties became socially oriented - this was the only way to take a leading position in the struggle for power.
Parties as a way of expressing public opinion
In those countries in which the bourgeois revolution triumphed, a parliament naturally arose as the most convenient form of exercising political power. It was to him passed the legislative functions, previously under the authority of the monarch. A place in parliament is at a minimum, a parliamentary majority is at a maximum — it is precisely in this that political parties and movements saw the goal and purpose of their existence. It sounds quite cynical, but to prove the idealism of a public figure and his sincere conviction in his own right, alas, is impossible.But to evaluate the efforts to move to the upper steps of the political ladder is possible. Is it really so important that one of the other social initiatives is based on noble convictions or a thirst for power? If these initiatives are useful and necessary - it does not matter. If harmful - too.
Political parties fought for the preservation of slavery and its abolition. Political parties struggled to reduce working hours, to ban child labor - and to preserve the status quo. Any initiatives of society, any practical implementation of his desires and aspirations led to the emergence of new social organizations. This is the function of political parties.
It is the chance to give a vote to the vending party that gives citizens the opportunity to really influence public life in the country. This is a plus of democracy, but this is also its minus. Critics of such a system emphasize that any program of a political party is primarily populist. Not all important and necessary changes will be approved by society. Not all changes that will be approved by society are needed.
Disadvantages of multiparty systems
Many of the necessary economic reforms would never have been carried out if the majority had to be approved for their implementation.The increase in the tax rate, raising the retirement age, closing large unprofitable enterprises, giving work to a large number of people - all these objectively necessary measures were carried out not thanks to, but against the will of the majority. Yes, a tax rate increase will ultimately lead to an increase in the level of social security. Yes, with an increased average life expectancy, it makes sense to raise the age limit for retirement - this will reduce the burden on pension funds and increase revenues to the budget through taxes collected from wages. Yes, unprofitable enterprises are subsidized by the state and it is more profitable to close them by organizing new jobs than to maintain, while continuing to spend money for nothing. Theoretically, this is obvious, but practically people whose interests concern these changes will be against it. The activities of political parties that support such reforms, voters will not just not understood. They will consider it a direct betrayal of their interests.
At the same time, it happened more than once when the majority supported political programs that brought nothing but trouble.
The fascists in Germany came to power through a legitimate vote. Palestine’s leading political party, Hamas, is considered a terrorist organization in several European countries. Many monstrous crimes against humanity were committed precisely with the support of the majority. Xenophobia, racial, religious intolerance, adherence to cruel traditions - this is not always the lot of the most backward strata of society. In poor countries, in countries with low levels of education, in countries tormented by war or hunger, it is these sentiments that are dominant. And, of course, socio-political parties will reflect the desire of the masses to find the enemy and destroy it. And it’s fair or not, humanely or not so much - at best the children of those who vote for the radicals will speak about it. And maybe grandchildren.
These considerations in due time were guided by the ancient Greeks, criticizing democracy. Most are mob, mob. She is uneducated, cruel and selfish. Wouldn’t it be better to transfer control to worthy rulers by abolishing political parties? In a society governed by people of educated and highly moral, cruelty or injustice will not be possible.
Why do we need political parties
Alas, despite all its flaws, democracy is still the most effective mechanism for implementing state administration. Because worthy rulers are good in the pages of philosophical treatises. But in reality, such people are extremely rare. Unlike corrupt officials, opportunists or self-satisfied fools. And the only way to remove such people from power is the will of the people dissatisfied with the results of their activities. Democracy assumes that taxpayers are employers. They pay for the work of representatives of power structures, those are just hired workers. And they either cope with the implementation of social order, or not. And it is the political parties that play the role of intermediaries between the state machine and the voters. They are a marker reflecting the majority opinion. This is the main function of political parties. Of course, they are not exhausted by this. Political parties not only express public opinion, they form it, create an ideology in the same way as a producer creates a product, and then offer it to consumers and voters, hoping to beat the competition.
Yes, a convinced liberal will hardly be interested in totalitarian movements, and a nationalist will join a party fighting for the equal rights of national minorities. But within the ideological course of the party are fully capable of changing the worldview of the masses. Having heard a convincing speech, a nationalist may become a radical chauvinist, and a liberal an inspirational revolutionary.
In addition to the main ones, the parties also have side functions: training of managerial personnel, political socialization of citizens, participation in the electoral process and control over it.
Party or not party?
But what is the difference between a public organization and a crowd that spontaneously gathered in the central square of the city? After all, the rally participants are also united by common goals, they have similar needs and beliefs, moreover - they obviously express the opinion of the people. Intuitively, everyone understands that there are certain signs of a political party that allow it to be distinguished from any spontaneous assembly. What are they?
Firstly, a political party is by no means a one-day organization. This is a long-term public association, clearly organized and structured.Within the party there is a strict hierarchy, officially stipulated in the statute - just like in any enterprise. Just in this case, consumers are not offered pots or irons, but political convictions.
Secondly, a political party always has a clearly defined program. Whether it is good or bad is not important. But any party must have a clearly defined goal, a common ideology and coherent strategies.
Thirdly, the ultimate goal of such a public organization is to achieve power. This is the essence of political parties. All of them strive to occupy the highest possible level in the country's political hierarchy. Only in this way can the tasks be accomplished. However, there is a variety of parties that do not really aspire to power. They exist only as spokespersons. These are “parties of pressure”, their task is to force the power structures to act in one way or another. These can be fighters for the rights of national minorities, trade unions, supporters of a particular denomination.
Fourthly, political parties are voluntary associations. Membership in them can not be mandatory.People join political parties only when they share their beliefs and goals.
It is these external signs of a political party that make it different from any other public organization.
Classification of parties and party systems
Political parties can be divided according to the following criteria:
- In relation to social transformations - moderate, radical and conservative.
- On a territorial basis - republican, regional, city.
- By social orientation - the party of farmers, entrepreneurs, pensioners.
- By ideological basis - the Communists, anarchists, liberals, fascists.
- According to the degree of closeness to the government - opposition and ruling, illegal and legal.
As can be seen from the list, the political parties of the 20th century are very diverse. Any social trend immediately leads to the emergence of new public organizations.
The political systems of different states also vary. In some countries, tradition presupposes the existence of two equal parties fighting for votes. So, in the US, liberals and democrats are fighting for power, and the country's population decides who to give preference this time.
In Canada and Great Britain, not two but three forces are fighting for power.The two main political parties enjoy the sympathy of the population, and the third is a newcomer. She rarely gains enough votes to win an election, but can unite with one of the major parties, thereby ensuring her victory.
Most countries have a multiparty system. At the same time, the passing score is often so low that no force can receive a majority in parliament. This leads to the formation of coalitions that are constantly shuffled, giving political life an additional edge.
There are states in which there are no parties at all. These are absolute monarchies - Oman, Jordan, Kuwait. In the USSR, only one party officially existed. True, the Constitution spelled out the right to freely express the political preferences of citizens, but it remained declarative.
There are also options when there is a multiparty system in the country, but only one party has the real support of voters. In Japan, the population invariably votes for the liberal-democratic party, in Russia of the 21st century - for United Russia.
This constancy has its pluses and minuses.
On the one hand, the ruling party may lose activity, taking voters' sympathy for granted. On the other hand, the political system is distinguished by high stability, and an organized vertical of power, consisting of like-minded people, allows you to quickly and effectively implement any undertaking.
Currently, the political parties of Russia, despite all their efforts, can not compete with the leader. Although in the media there are allegations of rigging election results, the majority of voters still prefer to vote for United Russia.
Party Diversity and United Russia
At the same time, practically all possible political directions are represented in the country, voters have plenty to choose from. There are both liberal and conservative movements, nationalists, communists, and socialists. Russia's political parties are prone to excessive fragmentation. In a sense, this is a business. There is even such a thing as a “turnkey party”. Excessive fragmentation deprives these public associations of a real opportunity to achieve something. Too small percentage of the votes falls on each of such one-day parties.As a result, the same, well-known to party voters, pass into the Duma year after year. Communists, nationalists, social democrats and, of course, "United Russia". Each of these parties has its own circle of voters, stable and unbreakable. It is almost impossible for a newcomer to squeeze into this clip of leaders. Thus, the interparty struggle in Russia is paradoxically absent. With a very large number of candidates, race winners are known in advance. And the position of the leader is practically assigned to United Russia. And this is not a falsification at all. The party really enjoys great popularity among Russians. And, perhaps, many of those who voted for United Russia do not even know what its election program consists of. But the support of the state apparatus provides a huge advantage: the party is directly associated with the government, with the personality of the president of the country. Only this is enough for people to give their votes to United Russia, and not to its many competitors.