Part of the Comparative Government and Politics book series (CGP)
The crucial difference between the political party and other kinds of organised group lies in its relationship to the political system as a whole. Whereas the aim of interest groups is to influence the state, the political party seeks to occupy the decisive positions of authority within it. Thus the defining characteristics of a political party are:
A conscious aim (realistic or not) to capture decision-making power, alone or in coalition
The pursuit of popular support through elections
A permanent organisation.
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© Rod Hague, Martin Harrop and Shaun Breslin 1992