Yet, within a few years of the career of the Union party divisions and party spirit were sufficiently evident. In the Presidential election of 1796, there were two national parties, one supporting John Adams and the other supporting Thomas Jefferson. By 1800, the party system had settled itself quite firmly in the government, even to the extent of necessitating the addition of the Twelfth Amendment so as to make the Electoral College method workable. Since then political parties have played a very vigorous role and today this extra-constitutional growth forms the hub of the political life of the nation. “But for the appearance of a national party system,” as Professor Brogan realistically points out, “the election of a President really enough of a national figure to carry out his duties, might have been impossible.
And it is certain that the greatest breakdown of the American constitutional system, the civil war, came only when the party system collapsed.” Gilchrist is of the opinion that the “party system is really the method whereby the too great rigidity of the American Constitution has been broken down.” What the framers of the Constitution had divided into three departments, all put asunder, the party has reunited. It is, again, a curious fact that in Britain, where the party system first began, political parties are still unknown to law. But without the political parties the whole nature of the British Constitution would be changed and many of the conventions would become unworkable. His Majesty’s Government is a party government and the Prime Minister is the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons.
The party in Opposition is His Majesty’s Opposition and it is recognised as a necessary and vital element in the working of the British Constitution. The functions of the Opposition are to criticise and to vote against the policy of the government, the party in office, with a view to overthrowing it and taking its place, one party to give place to another party. Jennings has, therefore, aptly said that “a realistic survey of the British Constitution today must begin and end with parties and discuss them at length in the middle.” Similarly, political parties in India are extra-constitutional, but they are life-blood of the system of government established at the Centre and in the States. Even the government of the U.S.
S.R. was a party government, although it was a misnomer to call it a party government in the original sense of the word. In Russia there was only one party and only one set of social and political ideas. So long as one general line was demanded, one ideology was prescribed, and one party alone was permitted by the Constitution to exist, the necessary conditions of a democratic State were necessarily absent.
Democracy is a government by discussion and involves differences of opinion. Opposition is the hub of a democratic government and upon its strength depends the success or failure of democracy. Totalitarianism does not tolerate differences of opinion on any issue, big or small. Discipline, duty and sacrifice are its three cardinal principles.
In dictatorship, therefore, there is no place for the Opposition and it cannot be permitted to exist as it may mean the demise of the dictatorship itself.