Generally, the functions of political parties are being agents of political learning, interest articulation, and aggregation. The first function is exercised through the political communication tools, political socialization, and communication of the party’s goals, the true situation in the country and the pitfalls of opposing parties, and the ways this party sees to overcome the existing problems in legislation and execution.
The function of interest articulation is “the expression of group demands by means of campaigns, the mass media, direct action, petition, and lobbying of political elites”. It is a powerful tool for public policy promotion or introduction of serious changes even in case the political party articulating its interests is not in the ruling majority. The reason for the strong effect is in the publicity of such issues – in case the party announces its demands and formulates its course of action, there is a strong probability that it will find some more co-thinkers and will strengthen its position.
The third function, the one of aggregation, is “the joining of interests in such a way that they are related to the selection of government and party leaders and to the making and administering of policy”. It is the prime function of any political party that logically derives from the first and the second one – only the accomplishment of this function fulfills the main objective of politics, to be able to influence the political life and policies of the country. But, surely, this is true only for democratic countries as the functions can be fulfilled only under the condition of freedom of speech, expression, and association. In case people are in fear of reprisals for their free expression, they will never be able to communicate their will to the government and make it change the course of political action.
However, there also are political parties in non-democratic states; their functions are different. As it comes from much previous information about politics, non-democratic rulers allow the existence of opposing parties only to increase the seeming legitimacy of their rule. In fact, the opposing parties have no strength and never exercise any actual power of decision-making in the political arena, but they lessen the domestic opposition to the non-democratic regime and legitimize the rule of the dominant party.