• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What role do political parties play in a representative democracy, and how effectively are these roles fulfilled?

Extracts from this document...


What role do political parties play in a representative democracy, and how effectively are these roles fulfilled? A political party is a group of like-minded people who agree to abide by a set of rules and set out to win political power in order to achieve their common goals; in the UK this is done by standing candidates in elections. Political parties evolved into what is their recognisable state of today from the old Whigs and Tories. After the Great Reform Act in 1867 parties officially were separate entities in Parliament and gave birth to the system we have today. Nowadays political parties are of course well structured both regionally and nationally. In representative democracy, political parties play a vital role- without them there would be severe problems. As far as the parties themselves are concerned their role is more ambitious than a pressure group which merely aims to influence the government. ...read more.


The second function is one which benefits both the common voter and the candidates standing in constituencies. If a candidate is standing for election as an independent MP he/she will have to be privately funded and will have to broadcast his views and policies to the constituency all on his/her own. However under the wing of a political party the candidate will have their campaigning funded for by the party, making it easier. However, if this candidate wins the seat, they may often find their loyalties split between party and constituency. An MP may face a difficult decision if on behalf of the constituency they have to oppose the government which has greatly helped in their election success. The degree to which an MP will totally represent a constituency is down to the individual. Some will be selfish and get a reputation for always following the party (eg: Tony's cronies), others may be the opposite (eg: Dennis Skinner). ...read more.


Parties are also essential in allowing debate between conflicting views on key issues. For example in the 1980s the ruling conservatives had a main economic goal of low inflation but this was faced by the concern of opposition parties for the resulting high levels of unemployment. The final role of parties is to represent the majority (or largest minority) of the public by making sure that matters of public concern reach the political arena. In cases parties will try to represent specific groups for example the Labour party is often referred to as the party that represents trade unions. However these points can be seen as a negative as parties can spend too much time focusing on slamming opposition policy that in the public view, they lose track of their own. In the 2001 election campaign Labour used a picture of William Hague with the hair of Margaret Thatcher, not only is this campaign simply negative in the direction of the opposition, it is actually a personal mocking of the opposition leader. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Politics essays

  1. In What Ways Do Political Parties Promote Democracy?

    For example: ideas, opinions, views, conflicts, principles and values can be brought to the party, and can be discussed. This would include scrutinisation in particular issues, and also cause for debate.

  2. The main features of Britain's democracy.

    This consent of the people on that policy is called a mandate. The uniqueness of Britain's government is that it is separated in three branches, the Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. Most power seems to come from the Parliament due to the fact that people confuse it, when referring

  1. Too much democracy is a recipe for anarchy. Discuss.

    The question, which Scuton emphasised in his lecture, was 'aristocrats' meaning in the Greek term 'rule by the best' how does one know that 'rule by the best is not rule by the worst'? The discovery that we have voted for the wrong people leads to ejection from office.

  2. To what extent was the 1867 Reform Act a turning point in parliamentary democracy ...

    would not have the desire or inclination, since there would be no political benefit from an unenfranchised mass, to implement appropriate legislation. 1867 is often referred to as a watershed in that it gave us the modern two-party system with the 'swing of the pendulum'.

  1. What are the roles of political parties and how effectively do they carry this ...

    For instance if Labour do fulfil their promise to reform public services then the electorate may choose to vote against them at the next general election. This need for winning policies limits parties' ability to perform this role effectively. In ideological terms they lack adventure, unwilling to present too radical policies which might jeopardise their chances of election.

  2. In the UK, we do not have a representative democracy because the government dominates ...

    The governing party must have a parliamentary majority of 330 seats or more. As the government has the majority in the House of Commons they will usually have the majority decision when making or altering any laws. This undermines the whole point of a representative democracy.

  1. What, other than the personal beliefs of Margaret Thatcher was there to Thatcherism?

    The increase in the moral content of Conservative policy can thus be seen as largely a consequence of Margaret Thatcher's personal beliefs. The second characteristic that can also be associated with the personality of Margaret Thatcher is the strong and confrontational style of leadership Thatcherism embodies.

  2. How effectively did Irish Catholic and nationalist leaders advance their cause in the years ...

    In 1885 the IPP held the balance of power, which allowed Parnell to use his political skill to earn the prospect of home rule. The fact that both the Conservative and Liberal parties had promised a Home Rule Bill shows the power Parnell held and the possibility that existed for real, more attainable changes in Ireland.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work