• Prawin Subash

Constitutionalising Political Parties



Extra-Legal Growth of Political Parties


Author: Prawin Subash K


What are Political Parties?

Political Party is an organization or an association or institution of people with common ideology, and objects who promote their ideology and through which they contest in elections. Political Parties are usually, considered as the major tool to win power through elections, but they serve a more significant goal than that.

Political parties are considered to be an influential part of almost every nation and modern state. Some countries have just one political party, some have 2 parties and some have several parties. Political parties are an indispensable part of democracy as well as an autocracy. The competition between the two political parties is important for democracy, as it will be beneficial for the welfare of the state and people. Political parties have a strong connection between people and representatives in the government as well as in opposition.

In the olden days, the political parties remained sequestered from the public, it consisted of monarchs, princes, noblemen, autocrats, and other influential people. The Parliamentary form of Government and Democracy developed the situation and played a principal role in the evolution of political parties. The same monarchs, noblemen, and other elites formed groups, formed parties, but those remained narrow. This got changed in the 19th century when these parties grew with public support and a more all-inclusive view.[1]

Political parties run with an ideology, and there can be no successful party without an ideology. The ideologies are usually Socialism, Liberalism, Communism, Nationalism, and Religious Ideologies. A democracy needs to have elections and competitions between the ideological political parties. Political parties have a strong connection between people and representatives in the government as well as in opposition.


The constitutional status of political parties around the world.

The American Constitution doesn’t discuss any political parties and decided to remain silent about the subject. They dawned in the US over the dispute in the ratification of the US constitution. George Washington, the first President of the United States did not represent any party and during his tenure, the political parties grew in the state[2]. The constitution of the Parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom also remain quiet towards the subject. The Conservative Party one of the two parties in the UK, has a planning and decision-making body, the National Conservative Convention[3] which deals with the internal party matters and reflects the views of the members. The United States has a body named National Committee. Both the parties of the US have it, Republican National Committee[4] and the Democratic National Committee[5], which are the topmost decision-making bodies.

India has a multi-party system, where various parties contest in elections having a spectrum of ideologies and philosophies, either single or in a coalition. The Election Commission of India deals with the recognizing of the political parties, it recognizes them as National and State parties based on different criteria. The Indian Constitution does not proffer any constitutional status to the Political Parties.

Germany provides constitutional status to Political parties. The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany gives legal and constitutional status to the political parties through Article 21[6], which says their role, functions, duties, and status.

Article 21 states that the political parties can be freely established, and must have democratic principles. Any political party which attempts to threaten the democratic order will be held unconstitutional and the Federal Constitutional Court can determine the question of unconstitutionality. The parties shall have accounts for their funds and assets publicly.


Indian Model of Political Parties.

India gives no constitutional status to the political parties. India has legislation that deals with the political parties, The Representation of People’s Act, 1951.

Section 29A (5) of the Representation of People’s Act[7], deals with the memorandum to be appended in the application for registering the political party. This states that the memorandum must have a special provision that the party should have genuine faith and allegiance to the Indian Constitution, hold the Principles of Socialism, Democracy, and Secularism, and would uphold the unity, integrity, and sovereignty of India.

Unlike the political parties of the United States and the United Kingdom, most Indian political parties don’t have an internal Commission or Committee, similar to the National Committee or the National Conservative Convention. Many parties are openly caste-based or Religious based in India, which sometimes practice communal and identity politics in India. This type of thing is not appropriate to the Constitutional ideas of Socialism, Secularism, and Democracy, this may lead to breaking the unity among people and disordering the brotherhood in India. Many political parties don’t show their revenue, assets, and funds, and some political parties are family-controlled or family-run. Some political parties don’t hold any internal committee or internal elections and there are some Entrepreneurial Political parties[8], clientelist, and Patronage political parties in India also. These are the issues and concerns with political parties in India.


What India can do?

India can include a provision dealing with the political parties to the Indian Constitution by making an amendment, securing constitutional status to the political parties. The law can state, that the political parties shall disclose their assets and funds publically and be faithful to the Constitutional principles. We can add, If the party threatens the social order or is acting not loyal to the Constitution, it can be held unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court can decide such unconstitutionality. Bringing such a law can make enormous changes to Indian Politics, I think. Lastly, strict action, fine, or imprisonment can be taken against those who misuse this law or have any other illegitimate interests.


Conclusion

Political Parties are the backbone of the Indian Democracy. Parties are not solely for the pursuit of power, but also for the betterment of the society and development of the nation politically, socially, and economically. The ruling party provides the citizens the governance of their choice and the opposition makes the ruling party accountable and responsible, thus political parties are very crucial in a democracy.

A healthy and ideal democracy is an inclusive one, I think Political parties should be the keepers who safeguard the idea of inclusiveness and brotherhood. The political parties should ensure an able environment to include Youth, Women, and minorities, assuring Inclusiveness. Nowadays Youths are hard to find in any party leadership and legislatures. This should change, and I strongly believe the youth have the power to transform, rebuild or make reliable the politics in India. The political parties should fight against injustice, and make a progressive society and make the society a better one to live for the coming generations.

So, it is high time, we reform the political parties’ legal status and make them constitutional so that they are transparent, inclusive, have in-party democracy, and stand for the constitutional principles of Socialism, Secularism, and Democracy.


References.

1. Faisal C. K, Under Secretary (LAW) to the Government of Kerala, Making Parties Constitutional, Editorial Article on the Hindu, dated Oct. 1, 2021, at pg no. 7

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/making-parties-constitutional/article36764952.ece





[1] Political Party, https://www.britannica.com/topic/political-party [2] https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-first-president/political-parties/ [3] National Conservative Convention, https://www.conservatives.com/organisation/party-structure-and-organisation [4] Republican National Committee, https://ballotpedia.org/Republican_National_Committee [5] Democratic National Committee, https://ballotpedia.org/Democratic_National_Committee [6] Article 21, The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_gg/englisch_gg.html#p0118 [7] Section 29A (5) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 [8]The Oxford Handbook of Legislative Studies. Oxford University Press, 380 https://books.google.co.in/books?id=beS4AwAAQBAJ&pg=PA380&dq=entrepreneurial+party&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=entrepreneurial%20party&f=false

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