This artificial agreement and disagreement divides the people into hostile groups at regular and perpetual strife with one another. Such bitterness is highly detrimental to national solidarity and the integrity of the State.
A party, like a broker, “tries to simulate a larger amount of agreement than actually exists.” Such a nature of political ties encourages hollowness and insincerity. The party system, therefore, demoralises politics and makes it sordid. It crushes the individuality of the party members and reduces them almost to the position of camp followers.
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No one can raise high in politics except through the regular channels of some party. An independent citizen, who does not tag himself to some party, is looked upon as a “crank” or a “goody- goody.” But a party member must bow to party dictates otherwise the party discipline coerces him. Thus, by insisting on slavish obedience to party behest, independence and individuality are destroyed. This is contrary to the spirit of democracy.
It is further maintained that party system makes the political life of a country machinelike. The Opposition party is always hostile to the party in power. Opposition is a party principle and it has nothing to do with utility or logic of the policy or a law. All laws proposed by the government must be opposed tooth and nail, no matter how useful and urgent they may be for the country. It must censure the government on all matters of policy no matter what the question may be. This is not the way of government by discussion. There are three axioms which must be accepted and obeyed if government by discussion is to work successfully—the axiom of agreement to differ, the axiom of the rule of majority, and the axiom of compromise. In the din of party politics and the hostility that is engendered these axioms of practical utility are forgotten.
Another evil of the party system is that it gives an opportunity to self-seeking political adventurers to exploit the masses for their own personal interest. If there does not exist any political party, a political adventurer will endeavour to create one. Just as every cock likes to have his own dunghill to stand upon and crow, so does this political opportunist to ensure his berth for furthering his own selfish ends. The mushroom growth of such parties complicates the political problems of a country, India being a glaring example of the evil.
Again, party government means excessive pandering to the people. This results in popular legislation, not for the good of the country but to catch votes. The party system, therefore, debases public morals and gives rise to the ‘spoils’ system. There is a regular race in job hunting and patronage of the worst type. Merit is ignored and persons are dumped upon party members and their supporters. The tone of administration, under these circumstances, severely deteriorates and disaffection and dissatisfaction grips the whole community. It means total paralysis of the normal political life.
The party system, its opponents maintain, lowers the moral tone of society by preaching falsehood and suppressing truth. The methods employed to ensnare the voters and thereby capture their votes are sometimes obnoxious. The language used in the meetings of the party campaigns is very often scandalous. Parties try to impress on the electorate “the truth of their views and the falsity of those of others. In this way parties are often guilty of the sins of suppressio veri and suggestio falsi,” Perverted party propaganda chokes reason and strangulates thought. It helps the flaring up of emotions. Swayed by emotions and deprived of reasoning power, the masses blindly follow what they are told to do by their leaders. It is the triumph of demagoguism and emergence of this kind of herd psychology is the death of democracy.
A citizen of democracy is not merely to obey; he has also to see if his obedience is rational. The party elects the leader and once he has been elected the party men do not only obey him, but prostrate themselves before him. Carl Friedrich points out those parties “try to secure power for their leader or leaders, rather than for themselves. For only through such leaders can the body of the party membership hope to secure the material and ideal gains which they seek.” The purpose of democracy, for the attainment of which parties are indispensable, is, thus, defeated. The party system, it is further contended, keeps many good citizens aloof from public life. The nation thereby is deprived of the intellect, knowledge, and experience of the talented persons who are either election-shy or refuse to be bound by the rigidity of the party whip and the party discipline.
There is another aspect of it too. Under a parliamentary system only the majority party forms the government and for that purpose talent is to be searched within the party itself. The water-tight party antagonism narrows choice and the majority party runs administration with men of inferior ability.
Inefficiency of the ministers is the heaven for bureaucracy. The party system narrows the vision of the people. Members of the party place the party before the nation.
They behave as partisans rather than citizens working for the common good. Goldsmith wrote on Burke: “Who born for the universe narrowed his mind And to party gave up what was meant for mankind.” This is correct to a great extent.
When party loyalty is carried too far and allegiance to the excess, claims of patriotism is obscured and the higher call of country is ignored. Such an attitude is disastrous especially in times of national emergency. The party system adversely affects local life. Local elections are made the arena of party politics. Local considerations are, thus, brushed aside and candidates are nominated and elected on the basis of national issues and general party differences. The election campaign assumes the same pitch and intensity as the general elections and a scene of warring armies is presented.
It is, finally, asserted that party system has created double governments. “The real governing power is without legal responsibility and is practically free from statutory and legal restrictions.” Hence, it makes a mockery of responsibility in a democratic government.