Political Theory 1010
Are political parties essential, or detrimental, to democratic decisionmaking? In answering this question, give careful consideration to the different ways political parties might assist or sabotage desirable forms of democratic rule, evaluating in each case their implications for the question.
A political party is a group of people who share similar ideas regarding the way a country should be governed and sought to obtain the majority of the seats in the political office to further the policies they advocate. Democratic decision-making is a participative decision making style in which citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democratic decision-making is widely considered to be the most desirable form of decision making mainly because it forces the decision makers to take into consideration the opinions, needs and rights of most people in society. Also, since democracy empowers people to make decisions for themselves and directly involves a lot of people, it ensures reliable and desirable decisions. Although democracies without political parties where candidates individually stand for elections and are given a seat in the office can exist, parties, in modern democracies, are often considered to being a prerequisite for democracy. However, this does not stop political theorists from harshly criticizing them and constantly debating whether they have any constructive effects on democratic decision-making or not and if they are primarily destructive towards desirable forms of democracy. This is because modern societies are extremely complex and dynamic in nature, so much so that no political system is perfect and everything has its pros and cons. Finding a decision making style or even one particular issue that everybody agrees on is impossible. Thus, to deem something as essential and detrimental in modern society, one must look at its net effect. It is essential to accept the cons and work in a way to minimize their harmful effects while highlighting the advantages. Through this essay, I aim to validate the claim that even though political parties have their cons, they are essential in upholding the democratic ideal and are an inevitable part of democracy. However, consideration to the number of political parties that are desirable is also an essential angle to the debate because the presence of too few or too many political parties can in turn have detrimental effects. Political parties are often deemed undesirable and rather detrimental to democratic decision making due to a number of reasons. People who dismiss the essential role of parties in a democracy often tend to fixate on the idea that political parties are inconsistent with the ideals of a democratic decision making since they are inherently non-democratic in their internal structure and can be termed as nepotistic and sometimes oligarchic in nature. This leads to a contradiction in the external and internal function of political parties. Also, parties in modern democracies tend to be extremely non-transparent and corrupt making false promises, inducing unhealthy competition and political instability and providing deceptive hopes to voters while no-party governments tends to be much more transparent and efficient. This may have a long-term effect of reduced participation since the voters no longer have an incentive to vote as they feel that their votes do not influences decision-making. Schumpeter’s perception of political parties as being analogous to profit maximizing corporations, primarily interested in increasing their share of votes and lacking any fundamental ideology, also offers an argument against political parties in a democracy. By lacking an ideology and principles, parties undermine democratic ideals and reduce their credibility as being instruments of popular participation to enforce greater good. Lack of ideology can be seen as lack of direction and since ideology is the only thing...
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