In the general sense of the term, a political party is an organised group of persons who have common views on political and economic problems of the country and who try to capture the government by peaceful means. According to Gilchrist, “A political party is an organized group of citizens who profess to share the same political views and who by acting as a political unit try to control the government”. In the words of Gettell, “A political party consists of a group of citizens, more or less organized who act as a political unit and who, by the use of their voting power, aim to control the government and carry out their general policies”.
From the above definitions, the following characteristics of a political party are clear-
An organized group of persons.
Agreement on fundamental economic and political principles.
Aim to control the government by peaceful and constitutional means.
Their aim is to promote national interest and not any communal or sectional interest.
Functions of Political Parties in a Democracy:
Political parties educate the people about the problems of the country and play an important role in the formation of public opinion.
They fight elections and try to get their candidates elected.
The party which gets a majority in the legislature forms the government and runs the administration of the country.
Other parties form the opposition and criticize the wrong policies of the government. They check the government from abusing its power.
Political parties serve as a link between the government and the people.