A political party can be thought of as an organisation of people who share similar ideas and values about how a country should be governed.

They provide vehicles for citizens to come together to campaign for public office, and to express their interests, needs and aspirations for their society.

Political parties are found in all representative democracies. Although some countries that are not democracies do have political parties, there are no democracies without political parties.

The purpose of most political parties is to win an election and hold political power and form a government until the next election. However, small parties that are unlikely to win an election tend to use elections to gain seats in parliament to influence public policy.

The party that wins an election is called the ‘ruling’ or ‘governing’ party because that party will govern the country until the next election.

Political parties that lose an election are called ‘opposition’ parties because they will stand against the government in parliament and will use that time in opposition to build public support to contest and try to win the next election.