Politics in Minutes (2016)

Political parties

In representative democracies, any person who is eligible to vote is also eligible to stand for election, but few independent citizens do. Instead, candidates tend to have the backing of a political party, and are appointed or elected to stand by the party membership. The system of political parties has evolved around groups sharing distinct political ideologies, and their candidates stand on a ‘platform’ of their party’s proposed policies. The number of seats won by each party nationally determines the ruling party. In states with only two major parties a simple majority decides which is government and which opposition, but alliances can be made to form a coalition government in parliaments and assemblies that contain a number of parties. What marks democracy from totalitarianism and dictatorship is the choice of views available to the electorate, and the freedom of political parties to represent this range of opinion. However, certain parties have been outlawed if they represent dangerously extremist views or have links with terrorist or criminal organizations.