Pressure groups are referred to as interest groups or vested groups. They are distinct from political parties in that they do not run for office or attempt to seize political power. They are focused on certain programmes and topics, and their activities are limited to protecting and promoting their members' interests through government influence.
Through legal and legitimate means such as lobbying, correspondence, publicity, propagandising, petitioning, public discussion, and keeping touch with their politicians, pressure organisations exert influence over policy formulation and execution in the government.
How do pressure groups contribute to the improvement of the political system?
Pressure groups play a critical role in bridging the divide between the government and the governed. They keep governments more receptive to community wishes, particularly in the interim between elections.
Pressure groups enable minority groups in the community to express their ideas that would not otherwise be heard.
Pressure groups can leverage their expertise to deliver critical information to the government.
Pressure groups provide a source of counsel to the government that is distinct from that provided by the Public Service.
In general, pressure groups create possibilities for citizens to participate in politics without having to join a political party. Additionally, they ensure the protection of democratic rights such as freedom of expression, assembly, and association.
What are the ways in which Pressure Groups distort the political system?
Pressure groups may constitute a significant minority force in society, wielding political influence to the detriment of the majority. This is a frequent criticism levelled at labour unions and business organisations.
Some pressure groups have influence as a result of their financial resources, membership, or structure. This influence may be disproportionate to their social standing.
The use of direct action by pressure organisations (e.g., union strikes, rallies, blockades, and pickets) can wreak havoc on the broader community.
A number of pressure groups are not democratic in their own right. Some have strong but unrepresentative leaders who may speak for no one except themselves. Certain leaders do not accurately reflect the views of their organisations' members.
Political leadership is devoted to improving people's living standards while being committed to democratic institutions. The government must allocate the limited resources at its disposal to plans and programmes that benefit the nation as a whole. However, the issue is not solely one of the resources and administrative organisation. The populace is separated into groups, each with its own set of interests and requirements. (These are sometimes referred to as interest groups.) The government must adjust significantly to the needs of the various groups.
Due to the Government's inability to meet all of the requests of all interest groups, particularly when they contradict national objectives, there is a tendency to see such demands as illegitimate.
As a result, interest groups frequently get alienated from the political system. They employ specific patterns of coercive behaviour, such as demonstrations, strikes, and violence, which results in a breakdown of order – with negative consequences for economic development programmes.
Pressure groups are now widely seen as a necessary and beneficial component of the democratic process. Individuals are unable to pursue their interests independently in today's society. They require the cooperation of other fellow beings in order to increase their bargaining power; this results in the formation of pressure groups around shared objectives.
Democratic politics must be based on consultation, negotiation, and some degree of bargaining. Thus, it is critical for the government to consider these organised groups when formulating and implementing policies.
Interest groups' attitudes should be moulded in such a way that they become aware of their public responsibilities. To do this, the government should examine the opinions and viewpoints of leaders of interest groups and instil in them a sense of ownership over public policy.