Extra-parliamentary, alternately written extraparliamentary and extra parliamentary, refers to a type of politicized action standing apart from the traditional political apparatus. An extra-parliamentary organization constitutes any group that falls under the broad definition of extra-parliamentary. Many types of groups throughout history qualify as extra-parliamentary organizations, including some that heavily affected the course of societal development. These groups exist in nearly every political system, in myriad locations throughout the world.
Extra-parliamentary politics refers to politicized action that takes place beyond the confines of traditional governmental structures. This term uses the word "extra" in the sense that it means “beyond,” and employs the word “parliamentary” as a synonym for “government.” Thus extra-parliamentary politics occur beyond the scope of the government. Figures involved in extra-parliamentary politics do not seek government positions, but rather to enact desired social changes by putting pressure on elected officials and backing officials who support their positions on key issues.
Extra-parliamentary organizations, often referred to as groups, constitute groups of individuals organized around key social and political issues that participate in extra-parliamentary politics. These organizations put pressure on elected officials through such public actions as protests and rallies, organize campaigns around specific political or social issues, and support politicians who adhere to the principles of the group. Extra-parliamentary organizations exist for the sole purpose of affecting public policy with regards to specific issues, but never directly partake in the government, choosing instead to mobilize the public in opposition of or support for political or social ideals.
The term extra-parliamentary organization appears commonly in literature regarding extra-parliamentary politics, though it means something very different than an extra-parliamentary group. Organization in this context appears as a verb, not a noun, and refers to the act of organizing extra-parliamentary political activities, although not necessarily through or with an established group or organization. A protest, march, rally or letter writing campaign, for instance, constitutes extra-parliamentary organization in that someone organized it as a form of extra-parliamentary political action. This differs from an extra-parliamentary group in that those involved do not necessarily qualify as members of a group, but simply participants.
Historical Extra-Parliamentary Organization
Extra-parliamentary movements and organizations have played a major role in several important social developments and historical events. In the United States, the civil rights movement constituted extra-parliamentary politics, as its participants elected not to run for office but still pushed for drastic changes in American laws. In 21st Century America, the tea party qualifies as an extra-parliamentary organization. Many industrialized nations saw the rise of mass extra-parliamentary organization in the wake of the industrial revolution in the forms of strikes against unfair conditions imposed on laborers. The international women’s liberation movement also constitutes a form of extra-parliamentary protest, as do many terrorist activities, including those of the IRA in Ireland.
- “A Companion to Contemporary Britain, 1939-2000”; Paul Addison and Harriet Jones, editors; 2005
- “Mobilizing for Peace: Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland”; Benjamin Gidron et al; 2002
- The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan; Extra-Parliamentary Politics; Jim Harding
- “Political Parties in New Democracies”; Ingrid van Biezen; 2003
- Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News/Getty Images