Law and Politics

Start Free Trial

What constitutes a party (organization)?

A party is an organization of people with broadly similar political agendas, which exists for the purpose of promoting those agendas, principally by fielding candidates for election to public office.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The word "party" can have many meanings, even within the arena of politics. In the most widely understood sense, however, it refers to a group of people with broadly similar ideologies formed into an organization which promotes the ideas of members, principally by putting up candidates for election. In the United States of America, there are a great many parties, though only two, Democrats and Republicans, are large enough to have widespread influence.

People who identify with the positions of a political party may pay a fee to join. Others, who are even more committed, may donate money to the party's campaigns, seek a position in the party's infrastructure, or attempt to be selected as the party's candidate for a political position.

Some small parties are little more than special-interest groups, founded to draw attention to a particular issue. As the party grows, however, it will normally need to produce a manifesto which sets out its position in all major policy areas. The Green Party, for instance, is now the fourth-largest party in the United States, and has a far wider platform than environmental policy. Parties often change their positions significantly over the years. In the nineteenth century, the Republicans were generally regarded as more liberal than the Democrats, particularly in terms of fiscal policy. This is far from being the case today.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team