In a legislative body, a majority whip is a member of the dominant political party whose task it is to keep voting members in line with the party's goals and ideologies. About.com expert Robert Longley explains that the majority whip ensures attendance at all important votes and legislative sessions. This official also has the authority to reward and punish members for their compliance or lack thereof.
In the United States Senate, the majority whip is the third-most senior member of the ruling political party. The other party's whip is called the minority whip. Political parties also maintain rosters of subordinate whips that maintain discipline and order at lower levels of government.
According to the United Nations Development Programme, whips exist in many other political systems around the world, including those of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In many of those countries, however, the whip's duties differ considerably from the duties of American whips. For example, Canadian whips perform disciplinary functions but also have important logistical duties such as assigning offices and organizing voting schedules.
In Great Britain and Australia, party whips do not have official titles, but their function is identical to that of whips in the United States and Canada. Legislators in other countries perform similar duties but have different titles. For example, in many countries the head of the party also functions as the whip.