POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Political Pressure Group

Political pressure groups are organizations set up in order to influence government policy-making, legislation, and public opinion. They are also known as lobbying groups, advocacy groups, special interest groups and protest groups. Political pressure groups vary significantly by size, influence and the methods they employ to exert influence. Additionally, the interests advocated by political pressure groups are wide-ranging and groups are motivated to come together in support of a particular action through commonly held interests or beliefs. Some examples include:

  • Businesses supporting tax cuts
  • Labor unions advocating worker safety and wage increases
  • Environmental groups lobbying for action on climate change
  • Animal rights groups campaigning for hunting bans
  • Health organizations supporting smoking bans

Methods used by political pressure groups

The methods by which political pressure groups seek to influence policy differ between individual groups. Larger, well-resourced groups will often seek direct access to politicians in order to influence their view on the issue at hand. They may also provide assistance directly to individual political campaigns or vote as a single bloc for or against favorable and unfavorable political candidates.

Smaller, resource-poor groups are more limited in their methods of influencing government. They will often have less direct access to policy makers and may instead resort to acts of civil disobedience and socially disruptive action in order to exert indirect influence.

See also: Labor Unions, Chambers of Commerce, Election Campaign

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