For Students: Politics Vocabulary
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
4 years after the United Kingdom held a referendum on to leave the EU or not, 4 years of hearing the word Brexit, 4 years of constant reporting on the subject filling up news pages and programmes, it has finally happened. 31st January 2020 was the final day for the UK as part of the EU after 46 years. 1st February marked the first day without the Union Jack outside the headquarters of the EU in Brussels.
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Four years is a long time, although it feels just like yesterday that I went to the polling station to cast my vote. I walked in, took a ballot paper, made my choice and put it in the box. In that time we’ve seen prime ministers stand down and new ones campaign and pledge to change things , and be elected. In other countries we have seen a comedian run for president and win the election by a landslide. We've seen rigged elections which have caused protests, riots and even looting. Countries passing laws which people were divided on and tension between certain countries who couldn't come to an agreement to suit both countries..
Politics can be a dangerous subject to talk about because everyone has their own views, so without going into some big text about politics – which is something I don’t really know about – I’d like to give you a list of useful words and phrases that you can use to talk, listen, and understand the dirty world of politics.
Do you know the name of the mayor of your town or city?
What areas of public spending do you think needs to be increased?
What threats are there in the world of politics right now?
Would you ever consider running for a role in
Are there any laws you would pass if you were in charge of your country?
Have you ever met a candidate during a campaign?
What kind of president / prime minister would you be? Have a read of the following situations and think about what you would do in each situation.
a) A fellow countryman committed a crime in another country, but fled - to run away after a crime - back to your country. The country wants him extradited - to be taken from one country to another to face the police of that country - back to the place where he committed the crime. You have good relations with this country, and helping them out will boost your relations. What do you do?
b) There is the opportunity to host the football World Cup – the biggest event in the world – but for you to do this, you have to make a 10% reduction to the health budget for the next 12 months. It will bring a lot of money from tourism and boost your country’s profile. What do you do?
c) You catch your Sports Minister embezzling - stealing money - money from the budget. He has been doing it for the last 12 months. He begs you not to do anything drastic - serious - and offers to pay back all the money right away. He is your wife’s sister’s boyfriend. What do you do?
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Referendum – a vote that is put to the people on a situation
Politician – a person who works for the government
Local MP – a member of parliament who represents your local area
Mayor – the person responsible for a city or town
Political Party – a group of people who represent certain ideas and views
An election – When people of a country have a vote on which political party or person will be in charge of the country
A rigged election – an election that is fixed for someone to win, even if that person doesn’t get enough votes
To show a blind eye – to ignore illegal activity even though you know it exists
A bill – a document that supports a new law
Law – a rule that is legal and illegal to break
Divided – when people’s opinions are in the middle of an idea or choice. 50 - 50
To back someone – to support someone. Also to support them financially on their campaign
Candidate – a person who wants a job
Public spending – how the government budgets for each area for things like health, public services, etc in a country
To run for… - when you want to be president or prime minister you run for this position
Regime - a group of people in power who run things that are seen as restricted and controlled. Almost always used negatively
Stand down / resign – when you no-longer want to have your position and leave by choice after telling everybody
Manifesto – The list of changes and things a party plan to do once they are in control
Threat – a possible danger to something
Pledge something – to say something in public that you will do if you get into power
Landslide – when someone wins by a big number. Much more than 2nd place
Polling station – the place where you go to vote
Ballot paper – the paper with your choices for a vote
Ballot box – the box where you put your paper in
Left-wing – someone who wants freedom, equality, progress, and internationalism
Right-wing – someone who wants authority, order, tradition, and nationalism
Opinion Polls – results from surveys done by asking random people
Strike – when people don’t work because of their disagreement with something
Protest – when people go to the street in disagreement with something
Views – your opinions
Riot – when protesters fight with police
Looting – when protesters start smashing open shops and stealing things
Campaign – a plan of promotion for the candidate or party to go around the country and speak to people in order to best sell their ideas and themselves
Turn out – the amount of people who took part in a vote
Majority – to have more than half
Coalition - When two or more parties work together to form a government.
Democracy - A system where power is held by the people through elections and votes
Dictatorship - when one person is in control and makes the decisions
Council - ‘government” of town, city, or area.
Tension – a difficult relationship which could lead to something very bad