What is a political party?

By Bol Thon Nyabeb

September 6, 2013 (SSNA) — A political party is an association that activates and mobilizes the people; represents or articulates their interest; draws those interests together or aggregates them; by providing for compromise among competing view points and becomes the providing ground for political leadership.

It is also well- defined as a group of officials or would be officials that linked with a sizeable group of citizens into an organization; the chief objective of this association (political party) is to ensure that its officials attain power maintained in power. Party’s central purpose is acquisition of power and direction policies. Party brings people together in a more or less formally organized structured and hence they link state with the society.

There are normally distinguished of political parties systems; that is, one-party, two-parties, and multi-party systems, but our aim here in this piece of description is to read and categorically take what does political party really means and not how those more than one party are working. The study of political party relates to its organization, history, origin, and ideology. Its relationship with other political agencies, also its link with the citizens that always brought about the positive roles it performs.

The function of a political party is to:

1. Represents various societal groups or forces, organizes, and structures participation and representation.

2. Provides choice among competing candidates, advocates policies embodied in the party program, platform, or manifesto.  

3. Democratic Party tries to mobilizes the citizenry attempt to aggregate their interests and their demands, voluntarily or democratically and not by force.

4. Aims at capturing and controlling the government; at times, this is not possible due to a lack of required majority; this "party representatives" then resort to coalitions with other parties to enable it to participate in government and directly gain influence.

5. The party recruits men and women who are interested in politics and can rise to leadership positions by allowing them to participate in political activism of the party; especially once one express needs to compete in one of the party’s top echelons.

6. A democratic party is supportive of the democratic regimes; it is not only draws this from the principles of democracy but also legitimizes it; by organizing the electorates (members assigned) to participate in exercising their suffrage (the right to vote). This strengthens support to the regime and induces loyalty.

7. Party program formulation that is decision-making takes place through open debate and voting by party congress or convention that meet regularly.

8. Comes up with a popular flag bearer who won or selected in a main election within the party’s national convention to go and win promptly the hearts of the country’s population, otherwise a chance or confidence of the people are slippery  given to other political party in a presidential elections.    

Party’s Membership

The membership is free in Democratic Party; and open to all. A party allows free debate among its members and recognizes rival factions for leadership position in the party hierarchy. The regular members of the party membership elect party members to congress or convention. They are at all times chosen by majority votes for the party leadership. The members are at their free will to vote for candidate X or Y in the convention, they are also free to quit the party and join another party.

The ideological spectrum

An ideology is a set of beliefs, ideas, and policies advanced by the party and embraced by its members. In democratic regimes, the range of ideological variation is virtually unlimited and most democracies allow parties that advocate the overthrow of democracies themselves. The freedom of speech and associations allow them to do so as long as they use persuasion and not force to bring about the democratic change.

In conclusion, the criterion to distinguishing a party along ideological line is set by the position it takes and the policy it advocates with respect to the role of the state in the production and distribution of goods to the people.

This is how we can better understand any political Democratic Party; its functions, membership and ideology, and how democracy should works in South Sudan’s political systems.

May God bless and democratized South Sudan!

The author is a concerned, democrat, and Civil Right activist. He can be reached at [email protected]

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