CHALLENGES TO POLITICAL PARTIES
We know that how crucial political parties are for the democracy.They are the most visible face of the democracy and people blame them for whatever is wrong in the working of democracy.
This is a case of our country too. Popular dissatisfaction and criticism has focussed on four problem areas in the working od political parties.
1. LACK OF INTERNAL DEMOCRACY(with in the party):
all over the world there is a tendency in the political parties towards the concentration of power in one or few leaders at the top.
--parties donot keep membership registers, donot hold organisational meetings and conduct internal elections regularly.
--ordinary members donot get sufficient information on what happens inside the party.
--leaders assume greater power to make decisions in the name of party.
--more than layalty to the party principles and policies, personal loyalty to the leader becomes more important.
2.DYNASTIC SUCCESSION :
since most of the parties donot practice open and transparent procedures , there are very few ways for the ordinary worker to rise to the top in the party.As those in the position favour people who are close to them .
--in many parties top positions are always controlled by members of one family.This is unfair to the others and bad for democracy.,since people with not much experience or popular support come to occupy positions of power.
3.GROWING ROLE OF MONEY AND MUSCLES.(in parties during elections)
--since parties are focussed only on winning elections, they tend to use short-cuts to win elections.
--they tend to nominate candidates, who have or can raise money.Rich people and companies who give funds to the parties tend to have influence on the policy decisions of the parties.
--in some cases parties support criminals who can win elections.
4.PARTIES DONOT OFFER MEANINGFUL CHOICE:
In order to offer meaningful choice parties should be different, but in the recent yeras there is decline in the ideological differences among parties in most parts of the world.
--as in our country differences among all major political parties on economic policies have reduced. and also in Britain,the difference between the LabourParty and the Conservative Party is very little.
--sometimes people can not even elect very different leaders either,because the same set of leaders keep shifting from one party to another.
Q. HOW CAN PARTIES BE REFORMED?
Some of the recent efforts and sugesstions in our country to reform political parties and its leaders.
1.the constitution was amended to prevent elected MLA's and MP's from changing parties.This was done because many of them were indulging in Defections, inorder to become ministers for cash rewards.
--now the laws says that if any MLA or MP changes parties, he or she will lose seat in the legislature.The new law has brought defection down and has made dissent even more difficult.Now MLA's MP's have to accept whatever party leaders say.
DEFECTION--changing party allegience from the party on which a person got elected to a different party.
2.the supreme court passed an order to reduce the influence of money and criminals.
--now it is made mandatory for every candidate who conducts elections to file an affidavit giving details of his property and criminal cases pending against him.The new system has made a lot of information availble to the public.
AFFIDAVIT: a signed document submitted to the officer, where a person makes a sworn statement regarding her personal information.
3. the election commission passed an order making it necessary for the political parties to hold their elections and file their income tax returns.
--though parties have started doing so but it is a mere formality.
Many suggestions have been made to reform political parties as,
1. a law should be made regulate the internal affairs of political parties.
–it should be made compulsory for political parties to maintain a register of its members, to follow its own constitution, to have an independent authority ,to act as a judge in case of disputes, to hold open elections in case of disputes.
2. it should be made mandatory for the political parties to give a minimum number of tickets, one-third, to women candidates. Similarly there should be a quota for women in the decision making bodies.
3. there should be state funding of elections. The govt. should give parties money to support their elections expenses such as petrol, paper, telephone etc. or it could be given in cash on the basis of votes secured by a party in the last elections.
4. People can put pressure on political parties and this can be done through petitions, publicity and agitations. Ordinary citizens, pressure groups and movements & media can play an important role in this. If political parties feel that will loose public support by not taking up reforms they will become more serious about reforms.
5. Political parties can improve if those who want this join politics. As the quality of democracy depends upon the degree of participation. It is difficult to reform politics if ordinary citizens do not take part in politics & simply criticize it from outside .
These suggestions have not yet been accepted by all political parties but if accepted can lead to improvement.
But over regulation of political parties can be counter productive and this would force all the parties to find ways to cheat the laws, besides political parties would not like to pass the law they do not like.