Political parties are the most crucial aspects determining the outcomes of democracy. There are four major areas where they are often subjected to popular criticism.
There are four major areas where the parties face challenges –
1. Lack of internal democracy – Power is often exercised by one or few leaders at the top within a party. Since parties are not usually involved in keeping track of regular activities, ordinary citizens who are members of the party, do not get much information of what is actually happening. They do not have any means to influence the decision-making process. The issue of personal loyalty to the leader is a major problem which arises due to the dominance of few leaders.
2. Dynastic succession – There are very few ways for an ordinary citizen from a party to rise to the top because parties usually do not practice open and transparent procedures in their functioning.
Moreover, the top positions in many parties are controlled by members of one family who tend to favour people close to them or their family members in giving positions of power. This tendency is harmful to the functioning of parties as well as the democracy.
3. The role of money and muscle power – Since the main aim of the parties is to win elections, they often use short-cuts in doing so. For example – they nominate candidates who have or can raise lots of money or they may support criminals who can easily win the elections. In addition, the growing role of the rich and powerful companies within politics tends to influence the policies and decisions of the party.
4. Lack of meaningful choices – The decline in the ideological difference between parties in recent times does not offer a meaningful choice to the voters as there is not much difference in the policies and programmes of the various political parties. For example – In India, the differences among all major parties on the economic policies has reduced and people who want some really different policy makers are hardly left with any choice.
Also, sometimes it is not possible to elect a different leader as the same leaders keep shifting from one party to another.
NOTE – Political parties are the major driving forces in a democracy and therefore people tend to blame the parties for whatever that goes wrong with the functioning of democracy. Since parties play a major role in the political sphere, there is a need to address the challenges it faces in order to better serve the citizens of a democracy.
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