By Mufid Abdulla
When considering the general characteristics of political parties in the Western world we can see that most have taken a Stalinist approach to political parties. Following the fantastic and admirable influence of Gorran (The Change Movement) in the 25/07/09 election in Kurdistan it is clear that this group has the potential to make a real impact on the essential changes which need to take place for the sake of the Kurdish people in the south of Kurdistan. What Gorran is aiming to do is to take a totally different approach and to teach people that there are ways to approach politics away from the Stalinist style. The only way that this can be achieved is to declare themselves as a political movement rather than a party and to have a clear vision of the operation of a political movement and the best way to approach the achievement of this vision.
In order for Gorran to operate to its full potential as a political movement it is useful to first consider the following points; a clear definition of the exact role of a political party and movement; the extent of the similarities and differences between a political party and movement and what is required to declare yourself as either of these. We need to consider these specific requirements and tasks and then consider in detail a model of a successful political movement. We must first point out that this is a complex issue and there are many different types of parties and movements, for the purpose of our study we will focus on those which are aimed solely at striving for significant social and economic changes in order to achieve social justice, democracy and equity.
Let us first consider the definition of a political party. A political party is an organisation working to represent groups of people and ideas, which makes laws through parliament and seeks to maintain political power within government. The main power of political parties in parliament comes from the members working as a team towards a set of specific goals and ideologies. The type of political party depends largely on the type of electoral system, whether it be a proportional representation voting system as is such throughout most political parties in Europe or a preferential voting system such as in Ireland and Australia. Additionally a political party may be one-party dominated, two-party dominated or multiple-party dominated. These are all factors we will consider in further detail later in the research.
On the other hand, political or social movements are a type of group action consisting of groups of individuals and/ or organisations which have come together to focus on specific political or social issues aiming to create a collective challenge. The following definition of a social movement is useful to consider here from Charles Tilly as he sees this as a major vehicle for the participation of ordinary people in public politics. Tilly argues that there are three major elements to a social movement (Tilly, 2004):
. ‘Campaigns: a sustained, organised public effort making collective claims on target authorities;
. Repertoire: employment of combinations from among the following forms of political action: creation of special-purpose associations and coalitions, public meetings, solemn processions, vigils, rallies, demonstrations, petition drives, statements to and in public media, and pamphleteering; and
. WUNC displays: participants’ concerted public representation of worthiness, unity, numbers, and commitments on the part of themselves and/or their constituencies.’