The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Interest Groups, Lobbying and Public Affairs

Living Edition
| Editors: Phil Harris, Alberto Bitonti, Craig S. Fleisher, Anne Skorkjær Binderkrantz

Political Parties and Interest Groups

Living reference work entry


Political parties and interest groups are two main types of organized political actors in contemporary democracies. As such, they have several qualities in common. Parties and interest groups aggregate individual interests and preferences into collective demands and seek to influence the form and content of public policy. Both concepts usually exclude latent social groupings and totally unorganized groups of individuals, and both denote action geared toward political power-seeking.

The difference between them concerns the foci of their main activity as intermediaries between society and state. While political parties seek public office by contesting territorially based elections, interest groups are organized attempts at influencing public decision-making from outside public office. A common minimal definition of a political party is “(…) any political group identified by an official label that presents at elections, and is capable of placing through elections (free or...


Political parties Interest groups Relationships Ties Networks 
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Further Reading

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

Section editors and affiliations

  • Anne Skorkjær Binderkrantz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark