The major functions of a political party:
(i) To contest elections:
In most democracies, elections are fought mainly among the candidates put up by political parties. Parties select their candidates in different ways. In India, top party leaders choose candidates for contesting elections, (ii) Forming policies and programmes: Parties put forward different policies and programmes and the voters choose from them. Each of us may have different opinions and views on what policies are suitable for the society.
(iii) Making laws:
When parties come to power, they make laws for the country. Formally, laws are debated and passed in the legislature. Members of the ruling party follow the directions of party leaders, irrespective of their personal opinions.
(iv) Parties form and run governments:
Parties recruit leaders, train them and then make them ministers to run the government in the way they want.
(v) Role of opposition:
Parties that lose in elections, play the role of opposition to the parties in power by criticising the government for its failures or wrong policies.
(vi) Shaping public opinion:
They raise and highlight issues. Parties have lakhs of members and activists spread all over country. Many of the pressure groups are the extension of political parties among different sections of society. Parties, sometimes also launch movements for the resolution of problems faced by people.
(vii) Access to government machinery and welfare schemes:
For an ordinary citizen, it is easy to approach a local party leader than a government officer. That is why they feel close to parties even when they do not fully trust them. Parties have to be responsive to people's needs and demands.