20+ Difference Between Political Parties and Interest Groups (explained)

These entities include parties, interest groups, and other organizations that serve as intermediaries between citizens and the political arena.

For example, people who share beliefs and perspectives on particular or broader topics, such as the economy, migration, taxes, welfare, healthcare, and various other topics, might find common ground in organizations and political parties. 

Even while political parties and interest groups couldn’t be more different, they are both channels through which public members can expand their understanding of political and social issues and become more educated voters.

In general, the goal of political parties is to win elections, and they tend to concentrate on several different issues.

On the other hand, interest groups do not participate in the electoral process. Still, they are heavily involved in lobbying and tend to concentrate on just one or two issues in particular.

Comparison Between Political Parties And Interest Groups

ParameterPolitical PartiesInterest Groups
ParticipationThe electoral process and the country’s political sphere are both heavily influenced by the activities of the country’s political parties. This is because they engage in political activity and support one or more members running for public office.Although interest groups are active in the country’s political realm, they do not directly participate in elections. While people are free to vote for the candidate or party they believe best represents their interests, they are not required to do so.
FreedomIt is a common accusation leveled against political parties that they put the interests of influential individuals or wealthy corporations, which donate generously to the parties’ campaigns, above those of the general public.Interest groups, unlike political parties, can be used by corporations or politicians to support a political and manufactured viewpoint. However, interest organizations continue generating funds, spreading awareness to advance their causes, and advocating on Capitol Hill.
FunctionTo simplify the process of choosing who will serve in positions of authority in the government.To have an impact on the decisions that officeholders make about policy.
difference between political parties and interest groups

Major Difference Between Political Parties And Interest Groups

What exactly are Political Parties?

A political party is an organization that aims to achieve political power by backing one or more candidates. For instance, the two major political parties in the United States are the Democrats and the Republicans.

Each party nominates new (or returning) candidates to run for office every four years, and the elections for those positions occur every two years.

Even if they haven’t formally joined, members of the general public might be considered members of a political party if they identify with its platform and goals.

Political parties can be flexible on various issues; however, they are frequently criticized for prioritizing the interests of politicians over the population’s requirements. The primary objective of political parties is to acquire power by supporting their candidates.

Key Difference: Political Parties

  • The term “political party” refers to a group of individuals who come together to form a party to run candidates in elections and gain a majority of votes.
  • The primary purpose of interest groups is to influence the government’s officials, policies, and choices.
  • Because a political party serves the public interest by addressing all of the issues, it is responsible for doing so.
  • The political parties choose their candidates intending to win elections and gain public office for themselves.
  • The goal of political parties is to get a majority of seats in parliament and so form the government. 
  • This is accomplished through running candidates in elections and winning such elections.
  • Elections serve as a tool for political parties to further their agendas through the democratic process.
  • In terms of their goals, the primary objective of political parties is to make it easier to choose who will serve in positions of authority in the government.
features of political parties

What exactly are Interest Groups?

Interest groups are groups of people who gather together to influence public opinion and share similar beliefs on particular issues. These people come together to discuss a specific problem.

However, interest groups do not run for office and do not necessarily support certain politicians. Instead, they lobby and campaign to try and get certain laws repealed or passed into law.

Certain problems, such as gun control, environmental legislation, and minimum wages, are the focal point of the attention of various interest groups.

They are typically not flexible, and the extent to which they have power is generally contingent upon the number of their members, the extent to which they exert influence over the general public, and their capacity to lobby governments or prominent individuals.

Key Difference: Interest Groups

  • Individuals who share beliefs and goals and work toward the shared goal of advancing and safeguarding a particular interest establish what are known as interest groups. 
  • These groups are formally organized.
  • The primary objective of a political party is to secure power in the form of electoral victory to assume control of the government.
  • An interest group focuses on topics or problems that are important to the people who belong to the group, such as the environment, human rights, agriculture, religion, etc.
  • The only candidates that interest organizations will support are those nominated by political parties. Interest groups will not put forth their own candidates.
  • The primary objective of interest groups is to sway the policies and choices that are made by the government or one of its branches.
  • An interest group may employ strategies such as lobbying, lawsuits, protests, rallies, and the like to sway the opinion of the general public and institutions of government.
  • The primary objective of interest groups is to exert some level of control over officeholders’ decisions regarding public policy.
features of interest groups

Contrast Between Political Parties And Interest Groups


  • Political Parties- Regarding the political system, a political party is a group of persons who have formally organized themselves into a body with the same ideas and goals.
  • Interest Groups- A formal association of individuals that has been founded to accomplish particular goals via various methods is known as an interest group.


  • Political Parties- Keeping the government in power by successfully contesting elections.
  • Interest Groups- Sponsoring and coordinating political campaigns to sway the decisions of government officials.


  • Political Parties- Candidates are considered to hold posts in various administrative bodies.
  • Interest Groups- Do not recruit candidates.


  • Political Parties- As a result of these activities, which include nominating candidates for elections, campaigning to support their candidates, and implementing policies once in power, candidates’ manifestos are used as a means of showcasing their goals to the public, educating the public, and shaping public opinion, which is critical to shaping the country’s laws and policies.
  • Interest Groups- Massing voters to the voting station during elections provides various opportunities to individuals as regards involvement, creating awareness among the public by transmitting information about the policies and actions of the government, trying to exert influence over the government regarding policy planning and execution, exerting influence on the representative process, and trying to represent the private interests of people in the public domain, to make the government recognize their special needs.


  • Political Parties- An organized collection of individuals, members of the party share common beliefs and goals, aims at acquiring political power through collective efforts, constitutional and legal measures are applied to be in power, i.e., via elections, and turns its objectives into government policies.
  • Interest Groups– Specific common interests that keep their members motivated and unified that are organized voluntarily and formally; members aim to attain, safeguard and promote their interests and influence the determination of public policies that indirectly or directly impact its members.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What are some of the similarities between political parties and interest groups?

Both interest groups and political parties are founded by individuals who share ideals, visions, and objectives; both seek to bring about some form of social, political, or economic change, and both employ lobbying strategies to accomplish their goals and win the support of influential individuals, corporations, and politicians.

Q2. What does lobbying mean?

In its original sense, the term “lobbying” referred to efforts made to influence legislators’ votes, generally in the lobby outside the legislative chamber.

Today, the term “lobbying” refers to any attempt made by individuals or private interest groups to influence the decisions made by the government. In every single type of political system, there will inevitably be lobbying of some kind.

Q3. What is a special interest group?

There are many different types of special interest groups (SIGs). Still, the most common type is a collection of people interested in a particular field of study or technology who work together to impact that subject positively.

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), an academic and professional computing society, first used the word in 1961. After CompuServe, a pioneer in the online service industry, introduced SIGs as a segment of their business.

Q4. What are some of the major political parties in America?

The United States of America has evolved into a multi-party system. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are extremely influential in the United States.

Several parties can run presidential candidates, including the Reform Party, the Libertarian Party, the Socialist Party, the Natural Law Party, the Constitution Party, and the Green Party.

Q5. What is the importance of a political party?

The principal function of a political party is to set the agenda and policies for the foreseeable future of government.

It’s all about saying that your policies are superior to those of your rivals. A political party, taken in its broadest sense, is a vehicle through which the people of a country can communicate with its administration and have their say heard.

Similar Posts:

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment