Demonstrations, strikes, agitation, protests, etc. by various groups like employees, doctors, students, lawyers and farmers, are very common activities these days. Sometimes these activities are undertaken by formally organized groups such as Trade Union, Doctor’s Association, Teacher’s Association, etc. to exercise pressure on the government for framing policies, withdrawing bills or implementing laws in a manner that suits their interest. Such groups are called interest groups.
An interest group is often contrasted with a political party, which refers to an organization, composed of leaders or would-be leaders and supporters, whose aim is to make effort in placing its nominated members in the government office, by holding various positions.
In this written material, you will find all the differences between political party and interest group.
Content: Political Party Vs Interest Group
|Basis for Comparison||Political Party||Interest Group|
|Meaning||A political party is a formally organized body of individuals, with common principles and goals, concerning the political system.||An interest group is a formal association of people established with an aim of achieving specific objectives, by using various means.|
|Function||Operating the government by winning elections.||Influencing government officials by funding and organizing campaigns.|
|Concerned with||A broad range of issues||A narrow focus on particular issues that concerns their members.|
|Nomination of candidates||Candidates are nominated for holding positions in government offices.||Does not nominate candidates.|
|Focuses on||Winning elections||Influencing policy|
|Technique to pursue their agenda||Elections||Lobbying and litigation.|
|Purpose||To facilitate in determining who holds government office.||To influence the policy choices made by the officeholders.|
Definition of Political Party
A political party refers to an association of persons, set up voluntarily so as to promote policies and principles, to run the government. It also nominates and supports some of its party members as leaders for the purpose of elections. The members agree to the ideology of the party, concerning various policies and programmes for the welfare of the society at large.
Further, the views may differ, as to what is good for the public, they try to convince people by stating ‘why their policies are better, as compared to other parties‘. And they look for the implementation of these policies by winning the majority votes of the population in elections.
So, it indicates underlying divisions of the society based on the ideologies of different political parties.
- Political Party that receives the highest number of votes forms and runs the government and implement their policies.
- Political Party that receives a comparatively lesser number of votes forms opposition, so as to keep a check on the government. In this way, they exercise pressure on the government for effective governance.
It exercises and looks for political power by way of constitutional means, so as to put its policies into practice. Simply put, a political party is a body of people with similar values, opinions, and views on matters that concerns the general public.
Characteristics of Political Party
- An organized group of people
- Members of the party share common principles and goals.
- Aims at obtaining political power through collective efforts.
- Constitutional and legal means are employed to be in power i.e., via elections.
- Converts its objectives into government policies.
Definition of Interest Group
An interest group can be defined as a formally organized association of people, which attempts to influence public policy. It covers all those intermediary organizations or bodies that work for the betterment of the society or state. They play a significant role in every country as they influence the process of policymaking
In simple words, an interest group is a voluntary body of individuals having common interests to promote and protect – economic, social, cultural, religious, environmental, educational, and linguistic well being. They organize programmes and rallies to influence government policies, officials, laws, institutions, as well as decisions taken by different branches i.e. legislative, executive and judiciary using methods like lobbying, strike, agitation, dharna, etc.
The primary purpose of these groups is to influence the creation of such policies and laws which can affect their interests directly or indirectly. So, they differ in their size, power, objectives, wealth etc.
Characteristics of Interest Group
- Voluntarily and formally organized
- Specific common interests, that keep their members motivated and united.
- Members seek to achieve, safeguard and promote their interest.
- Influence the determination of public policies which have a direct or indirect impact on its members.
What is Lobbying?
Key Differences Between Political Party and Interest Group
Now as we have understood the meaning of these two, let us discuss the difference between political party and interest group:
- A political party refers to a body of people who form a party with the primary purpose of contesting elections and winning majority votes so as to hold power in the government. On the other hand, Interest groups are the formally organized group of individuals with common views and objectives, who work for promoting and protecting specific interests.
- The main function performed by interest group is that they influence government officials, policies and decisions by funding and organizing campaigns. Contrarily, the main function of a political party is to run the government by winning elections.
- A political party works for the interest of the public, so they deal with all the matters, whereas an interest group concentrates on those matters or issues which concerns their members like environment, human rights, agriculture, religion, etc.
- The political parties nominate their candidates for the purpose of winning elections and holding government office, whereas interest groups do not nominate candidates, rather they only support candidates nominated by the political parties.
- Political parties focus on winning elections by contesting elections and getting majority seats, to form the government. Oppositely, interest groups focus on influencing policies and decisions made by the government or its branches.
- To influence the opinion of public and government institutions, interest group uses methods like lobbying, strikes, dharna, litigation, protests, rallies, etc. Contrastingly, political parties use elections, as a technique to pursue their agenda.
- When it comes to purpose, the main purpose of political parties to facilitate in determining who holds government office. Conversely, the purpose of interest groups is to influence the policy choices made by the officeholders.
Functions of Political Parties
- Nominating candidates at the time of elections.
- Campaigning for their candidates on their policies and striving to implement them when they are in power.
- Using manifestos, to showcase their objectives and programmes to the voters.
- Educate and bring awareness in people and shaping public opinion.
- Plays a decisive role in the formulation of laws and policies for the country, when in power.
- Giving voice to public demands and conveying them to the government
- Developing a connection between people and government institution.
Functions of Interest Groups
- Mobilizing voters to the polling booth during elections
- Providing numerous opportunities to people as regards participation
- Creating awareness in people by conveying information, about policies and programmes of the government.
- Exerting influence on the government concerning policy formulation and implementation.
- Influencing the representative process.
- Representing the private interest of people in the public domain, to make government recognize their special needs and requirements, and create provisions in this regard.
So, the basic difference between a political party and an interest group is that an interest group attempts to influence policymakers, but they do not attempt to take over the control of the government. As against political parties focus on governance, by contesting elections and gaining majority seats in the parliament, so as to form the government.