A Pressure group is defined as an organized group, which influences
government decisions socially or economically without necessarily
entering into election activities for the control of government. Pressure groups attempt to reinforce or change the direction of government policy, but they do not try as it were, to be in government. They are sometimes refers to as interest group.
Success or Failure of Pressure Group
The major factors that determine success or failure of a pressure group depends on a number of factors. Some of which are outlined below:
1. Nature of Government Policy
The nature of government policy is important in determining whether a pressure group will achieve its objectives. Governments, for example, tend to be more responsive to groups which provide them with resources by way of money and support. As such, public policy will likely be more receptive to the demand of business associations than that of labour. The political values and attitudes of society also affect group demand. Groups which seek to promote the welfare of children, for example, will have more public sympathy than a group advocating payments of retirement benefits to politicians.
2. Nature of Sanctions Available to the Group
If a pressure group can, for example, go on strike which may adversely affect the economy, then it will have more influence on government policy than to group, which has little influence and can only murmur its demands. In this vein, at demand by an oil workers’ union will be taken more seriously by government than a demand by union of office cleaners.
3. Nature of Group Organisation
The nature of a pressure group’s organisation affects whether or not it will achieve its objectives. A pressure group with large membership and good internal organisation will have more influence on government than a poorly organised group. Motorists, for example, are usually better organised than pedestrians, producers, than consumers and business than labour.
4. Usefulness of Pressure Group to Government
The success or failure of a pressure group also depends on its usefulness to government. As said before, governments tend to be more responsive to groups which supports it. For example, in Britain, the business organisations sometimes give money to the Conservative Party while in the United States, they provide fund for the Republican Party. As such, the government formed by these parties tend to be business-friendly.
5. Availability of Resources
The more the resources available to group, the greater is its ability to influence government policies. The resources of a pressure group include money, manpower, public sympathy, level of organisation and the willingness of people to support it. Unions in the oil industry, for example, are usually more effective than those in the civil service partly because of the abundant resources at the disposal of the former.
6. National Interest
The national interest also affects the effectiveness of a pressure group. Group activity takes place in a wider political society, and to maximize its influence, a group will try to identify its goals and objectives with the national interest. What is in consideration here is whether or not a group’s aspirations tally in with or conflict with the dominant of values of the society.
It is, for example, in Nigeria’s national interest to continue to be a member of the African Union. It therefore follows that, any pressure group that demands Nigeria’s withdrawal from the organisation may be said to be working against the national interest.
The problem, however is always there about how and whom to define national interest.
7. Overlapping Membership
Overlapping membership or membership in different pressure groups at the same time, affects the success of pressure groups. Overlapping membership tends to moderate sectionalism and reduce the effectiveness of groups.