Liberal democracy is a form of government in which representativedemocracy operates under the principles of classical liberalism. Nearly allmodern Western-style democracies are types of representative democraciesregardless of their political systems. Representative democracy is a form ofdemocratic government whereby citizens’ interests are represented by electedofficials in open elections (Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee Victorian Electronic Democracy, 2005).
Therefore, it’sstated that legislators need to be elected at first and due to modernrepresentative democracy system, voters do not vote for their representativesin a direct manner. Instead, they cast their vote for political parties whichwill make up the government and legislate and execute specific policies (Ebeling, 2017).However, this situation comes up with a lot of questions and debates aboutpolitical parties. There are numerous criticisms such as parties don’t represent all thevoters’ preferences, they are getting out of touch with voters and they areexploiting the power after getting elected, etc. In this kind of cases peopleare looking for a “leverage” which they can use to counterbalance the system.
At this juncture, pressure groups come into play and confront the politicalpower with the support of public. Withregard to this we can say that pressure groups are one of the essential componentsof modern democracies. A pressure group is an organized group that does not hold candidates forelection, but seeks to influence and change government policy or legislation.They are also described as ‘interest groups’, ‘lobby groups’ or ‘protestgroups’ (Owusu, 2013). However, we canstill talk about some pressure groups which engage in politics as a secondaryactivity.
Rather than putting up a candidate for elections they are acting as abridge between public and government as a component of civil society. It’s possible to talk aboutsimilarities and differences of pressure groups and political parties. For thesimilarities, we can say that both of them try to contribute to the policyprocess the way they desire. And both of them carry representation of people.Also, sometimes we see confusions between political parties and pressure groupsfor having narrow focus issues such as social, economic, environmental and soon.
Of course, we can also make obvious distinctions between them. First ofall, political parties’ aim is winning elections and obtain political powerwhile pressure groups are seeking to exert influence over policies. Anotherdifference is usually political parties have a wide issue focus includingeconomics, education, foreign affairs, etc. while pressure groups usually tendto focus on a single issue.
Another distinction we can make is about themembers of political parties and pressure groups. We can observe so many peoplewho are the members of more than one pressure groups, however, each individual hasonly one vote in elections.