Without a clear explanation it can be very difficult to envisage the differences between political parties and pressure groups. This is so because the functions of these two associations clashes sometimes. Take for instance, both political parties and pressure groups serve as watchdogs to the government and also disseminate information to members of the public on government activities.
Despite the clashes in function, it is important to know that political parties are different from pressure groups in many areas. In this article, we will be looking at the differences between political parties and pressure groups by using their definitions and functions. I therefore advise you to read carefully to that you will grasp everything contained in this article.
Meaning of political party
A political party is an organized group of people who share thesame or similar ideology, opinions, principles, interests and beliefs with the aim of contesting elections, gaining political powers and governing the country. Usually, it is the electoral commission of a country that determines which political association is qualified to be referred to as a political party.
Political associations metamorphose into a political parties after undergoing a lot of specified process. In most countries, there are usually laws governing the creation of political party in a nation. These laws provide for the requirements, such as number of members, funds, type etc, which every political party must meet.
Functions of political parties
1. Political parties play the role of stimulating and arousing the interest of the electorate in participating in the elections by performing their civic responsibility of voting.
2. Political parties serve as a uniting factor for sectional interests and bridge the distance gap between people of a country which cut across ethnic or religious lines thus promoting national unity.
3. Political parties not in power act as watchdogs to the one in power and provide constructive criticism to the government of a country.
4. Political parties serve as a bridge that connects and makes it possible for people of a country to get nearest the government with their numerous problems.
5. They play important role of disseminating on information on government policies to the members of the public thereby bridging the communication gap between the government and the governed.
6. The existence of political parties provides the electorate possible options of choosing good leaders and preventing imposition of dictatorial leaders on the people of a country.
For a better explanation of political parties, kindly watch the video below on the functions of political parties in the United States
Meaning of pressure group
On the other hand, pressure groups are organized social interest groups formed with the main aims of pursuing their interest and influencing government policies to the benefits of their members but not attempting to take control of the government by contesting election.
It is important to note that pressure groups uses persuasion rather than coercion in achieving their aims and do not field candidates to contest elections in their names buy may give material and moral support to political parties.
Functions of pressure groups
1. Pressure groups influence and help to change some obnoxious policies of the government. This can be seen in the first republic of Nigeria when pressure groups protested after the government signed the Nigeria Anglo Defence Pact.
2. Presure groups prevent maladministration and check dictatorial tendencies of any government. They serve as watchdogs that checks the activities of the government.
3. Presure groups also play important role of disseminating of information on government policies to both their members and members of the public through activities thereby, bridging the communication gap between the government and the governed.
4. Although pressure groups do not contest elections, they help to ensure smooth running of elections by showing concern in every stage of election such as endorsing candidates, issuing campaign propaganda, raising money etc.
5. Presure groups help to promote the welfare of members of the public by rendering free medical and legal services.
6. They help to increase the standard of living of their members through fighting for increase in their political rights.
Differences between political party and pressure group
Based on the definition and functions of political party/pressure group which I have highlighted above, we will now look at some of the differences between political party and pressure group:
1. The activities of political parties are aimed at winning elections and controlling the government while pressure groups aim at pursuing the interest of their members and influencing government policies to the benefits of their members but do not attempt to control the government.
2. Political parties submit candidates who will represent them in every election in a state but pressure groups do not.
3. Political parties are distinctly organized with defined leadership but pressure groups are not.
4. Political parties have wide range of policies and interests while the interest of pressure groups are restricted.
5. Pressure groups can be said to the selfish in nature because they only pursue their goal, but political parties are not so because their interest is to benefit the whole society.
6. Usually, political parties are organized and open to all members of the society, whereas pressure groups are not.
So far, we have looked at the meaning, functions and differences between political party and pressure group. In conclusion, i must remind you that both pressure groups and political parties are important in every nation because they perform different roles that contributes greatly to the growth of the society through their functions.