Whilst Party systems in every democratic country vary wildly in significance and influence, political parties are often a potentially major avenue for democratic engagement in a number of countries including Australia and the United States.
Australia, home to a Parliamentary democracy, favours a two-party political system where two major political parties (groups of individuals from similar places on the ideological spectrum) dominate politics within a Government.
Both major political parties in Australia (the Liberal Party and the Labor Party) have youth programs, known as the Young Liberal and Young Labor movements respectively. Smaller political parties in Australia also have similar youth branches:
- Young Liberal – http://www.youngliberal.org.au
- Young Labor – http://www.australianyounglabor.org
- Young Greens – http://greens.org.au/young-people
- Young Nationals – http://www.nationals.org.au/YoungNationals.aspx
Whilst detailed membership statistics are not made readily available by any of the political parties listed above, it is clear that party membership has been steadily declining in recent decades, often with small increases shortly before an election.
Depending on which of the major political parties in Australia you belong to, you may have the opportunity to:
- Attend branch meetings with other members to discuss policy, recent political events, brainstorm ideas for fundraising or meet your local candidate or politician.
- Attend fundraisers, rallies, conventions and other social events.
- Put forward motions within policy forums or conventions to determine the party’s direction on particular issues that interest you.
- Preselect candidates to nominate and run for election in your electorate on behalf of you and your party.
- Assist with your local campaign come election time (eg; letterboxing, distributing how-to-vote cards, designing marketing material or social media strategies etc).
- Elect members of the party’s senior administration including Presidents, Vice Presidents and Secretaries.
- Cast your vote to determine the party’s Parliamentary leader.