A political party is a group of people with similar ideas and beliefs who have come together to work to achieve their aims. The ideas of a political party are written down in a document called a manifesto. The party manifesto provides the basis for action should a party win an election.
There are several different parties in Scotland each with different ideas and policies. The largest parties include the Scottish National Party, the Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Conservative Party, the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party and the Scottish Green Party. There are other smaller parties such as the Scottish Socialist Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).
Apart from voting in elections, individuals can become involved in political parties by:
Political parties are usually more successful if they have large, active memberships and can attract donations from supporters and party members.
Anyone can join a political party. The membership fees for the main political parties are quite low in order to attract as many people as possible. At election time there are rules about the amount of money parties can spend on campaigning.
In recent years political parties have invested heavily in technology, such as websites and social media to improve their communication with voters and supporters. The SNP have used social media particularly effectively to support their election campaigns in 2015 and 2016.