Meaning, Functions And Types Of Political Parties

In this article, we are going to discuss the meaning of political parties, their functions, and the types of political parties. However, read this article carefully to understand more about what a political party is all about.

A political party can simply be defined as a body of persons who are united by a single ideology to control political power.

Main Meaning Of Political Party

Political Party is an organized body of men and women seeking to control the power of the government. It can equally be defined as an association of people with a common goal and who seek to win government power.

Furthermore, a political party is a regular and permanent organization of a certain number of people concerned with either conquering power or keeping it.

What Are The Functions Of Political Parties?

Below are the 7 main functions of political parties:

1. Appointment Of Governmental Leaders:

Political parties aim to control government power. A party that wins the election forms the government. This they can do alone or in alliance with other political parties. Political appointments are mainly given to members of political parties.

2. Limits The Number Of Candidates For Election:

Elections are mainly contested on the party platform. This means that political parties prevent a situation where too many candidates contest for a particular post in an election. Where many candidates are interested, they are subjected to primaries.

3. Articulation Of Various Interests:

The society is made up of people with different interests and needs, it is the function of political parties to harness these interests and articulate them into their politics and manifesto.

4. Serves As A Medium For National Unity:

Political parties draw their membership from different ethnic groups, religions, and social backgrounds; this makes it serve as a medium for national unity.

5. Educates The Public:

Political parties continuously educate the public on national issues.

6. Regulates The Conduct Of Public Officers:

Party discipline serves as a check on political office holders.

7. Serves As A Training Ground For Future Leaders:

Political parties normally organize leadership training and workshops for their members.

Functions And Types Of Political Parties

Features Of Political Parties

1. Political parties are organized groups based on the electoral commissions laid down rules.

2. They aim at contesting elections, gaining political power, and governing a country.

3. Political parties are made up of people who share similar political opinions, principles, interests, and beliefs.

4. Political parties have ideologies they tend to implement when they come to power.

5. They are guided by different political party manifestos.

6. They show loyalty to the electorate and determine their political successes to win elections.

7. Political parties use persuasive rather than coercive means in coming to power.

8. They have cohesive leadership.

9. Political parties draft their different constitutions that direct the conduct of their political activities.

10. They abide by conventional principles of collective and individual responsibilities.

11. Good political parties are organized to reach everybody in society.

12. Political parties express their views on every subject and matter that affect society as a whole.

Types Of Political Parties

There are six major types of political parties, and we are going to explain them below:

1. Elitist/Cadre Parties:

These are types of political parties that draw their members from the highest echelon of the social hierarchy in a country. That is to say that members are made up of people with high social status and standing like intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, tycoons, traditional rulers, etc.

Elitist parties that are conservative believe in quality not quantity. And that responsible men and women of substance rather than riffraff and ragamuffins should control the affairs of any government of a country.

2. Mass Parties:

These are political parties that draw their members from all sections of the country and have wide membership and any individual wishing to join the parties is allowed. These parties direct their action and appeal to the masses of the people in a country.

Mass Parties take such means as the People’s Party, labor party, workers party, etc, and their manifestos are aimed at alleviating the suffering of the masses.

3. Broker Parties:

These parties are formed with members drawn from the upper and lower classes of society. Their main aim is to reconcile the conflicting interests of the rich and the poor by carrying out policies of social justice for the interest of all.

4. Missionary/Religious Parties:

They are formed based on religious doctrines and they appeal to religious sentiments to win votes. Members of these political parties are mainly religious fanatics and born-again.

5. Charismatic/Personality Parties:

These are political parties formed or led by individuals with charisma. They revolve around the personal qualities of their leaders. At times, the death of their leaders leads to the end of the parties or the decline of their electoral success.

Examples of these political parties may include I.A.NU led by Dr. Julius Nyerere, U.P.N with l, late Chief Awolowo as its leader, and N.P.P. under the leadership of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, etc.

6. Ideological Parties:

These are political parties that are based on different political ideologies or briefs which form the bases of the existence of these parties. For example, the Communist Party Of Russia, the Chinese Social Party, the Fascist Party Of Italy, etc.


How Political Parties Educate The Electorate

1. Use Of The Mass Media:

Political parties use the mass media to reach the electorate.

2. Use Of Local Units:

They use their local units/branches/organization through meetings and visits to educate the electorate.

3. Manifestos:

They present their manifestos and programs to the people.

4. Constituency Office:

Through the use of constituency offices and visits, the electorate is educated on government policies.

5. Mass Rallies:

Political parties mobilize support through mass rallies, electioneering campaigns, party flags, symbols, use of party posters, and other activities.


We believe after going through this article, you have got to understand the meaning, functions, and types of political parties.

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