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Difference Between Political Party & Interest Group

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Interest groups may be represented by a variety of groups. For example, environmentalists would be an example of an interest group, as would unions, teachers, churches, the elderly and people with disabilities. Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club and others all claim to speak for environmentalists, but a person can be an environmentalist and not belong to any of these groups. Typically, though, a person claiming to be a Democrat or Republican is actually a member of that party and only the Republican Party itself can legitimately claim to speak for Republicans.


An interest group tends to devote itself to a narrow range of issues. Environmental groups work on issues related to the environment, women's rights groups work on issues relating to women's rights and religious organizations work on issues related to morality and the teachings of their faiths. Political parties must be able to speak to all issues. A national party's constituents live in all parts of the country and will likely include environmentalists, civil rights activists, the elderly, the disabled, and people of different races, religions and professions. To gain support, a political party must attempt to address the issues of each of these groups and many more. A party may not try to address the issues of all groups, but must have enough support among various groups for its candidates to win elections.

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An interest group may have any number of organizations. It may include a loose affiliation of individuals who share common interests or formal organizations whose members are appointed, elected or hired. Different organizations within an interest group may work together or independently, and members of interest groups may act



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