Where most of the institutions of government are listed in a national constitution, interest groups (like political parties) are mainly founded and operate outside these formal structures. They have evolved separately, their core purpose being to infl uence the shaping of policy without becoming part of government; another example of governance at work. They come in several types, and use diff erent methods – both direct and indirect – to achieve their goals. A vibrant interest group community is generally a sign of a healthy civil society, but where the influence of diff erent interests and the groups that support those interests is unbalanced, it can also become a barrier to the implementation of the popular will as expressed in elections.
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