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What Is a Political Faction?

By K. Kinsella
Updated Feb 09, 2024
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A political faction is composed of individuals or representatives of organizations that share a political aim or a set of political beliefs. Many political factions evolve into formal organizations such a political parties, unions and various types of non-profit groups. In other instances, political factions are loose groupings of individuals who share a common purpose but lack any formal leadership.

The major political factions in many nations are organized into political parties. Many nations have at least one fiscally and socially conservative party and one or more economically and socially liberal parties. Some nations also have centrist political parties that involve individuals who share some of the same beliefs as both the liberals and the conservatives. Two or three major political groups tend to dominate elections in certain countries but in many nations dozens of political parties are represented in national or regional elections and each of these parties represents the interests of a political faction.

A political faction may include a wide range of individuals from different socio-economic groups who are united by their desire for certain rights. Workers who are dissatisfied with their pay or working conditions often protest against their employers and these protest groups often evolve into formal political factions that are known as trade unions. In some nations, laws exist that limit the rights of women, people of certain ethnic backgrounds or people who have particular religious beliefs. These individuals often begin voicing their desire for changes in the law and when this occurs, the individuals in question are regarded as a political faction. In many nations including the United States, South Africa and Great Britain, political factions have managed to abolish laws that legalized gender and racial inequalities.

While many political factions are concerned with passing certain legislation or over turning certain laws, other factions are groups of people who are united in the desire reduce the role of political organizations and governments in the lives of ordinary citizens. Anarchists groups are factions that oppose government structure and some anarchists believe that all societal structures should be abolished and individuals should live as they please. Other individuals do not share the same views as anarchists but are in favor of reducing regulation and laws that limit civil liberties. Therefore, these groups are concerned with abolishing rather than changing or improving existing laws.

Politicians attempt to win the support of different political factions during election time by promoting policies that support the aims of these groups. Despite their best efforts, many politicians fail to win the full support of members of these factions because many people belong to multiple factions that are concerned with different issues. A single individual may belong to a liberal leaning political faction that supports civil unions or gay marriage but the same individual may belong to a conservative leaning group that opposes taxation. Both the liberal and conservative politicians may attempt to win the support of this individual by supporting policies that are in line with the beliefs of the factions this individual belongs to.

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