Understanding Politics: Key Terms and Concepts

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Key Political Terms

Ballot The act of holding a secret vote. As a verb, holding a secret vote. No one knows who you voted for.

Bill A proposed change in the law. When it is still in the planning stage and before it becomes legal, a law is called a bill.

Coalition The time when different political parties agree on something for a reason.

Democracy A system where power is held by the people through elections. One person = one vote.

'The alternatives to Democracy, Communism for example, have largely been failures.'

To Elect (Verb) To choose by voting. 'In November Americans will vote for a new President.'

Election The process of choosing a new government or leader. 'In Britain elections are held every 4 or 5 years.'

Election Campaign The organised effort to get a political party into power. Also known as a race.

Electorate All the people who can vote in an election. 'The party is working hard to win the support of the electorate.'

Law A rule made by the government. It is illegal to break the law. 'The government introduced a new law banning smoking in public places.'

The Opposition The opposition are the political party who are not in power. They are not the government but want to be.

Politics The process through which decisions on how to run the country / government are made. 'In my country young people are less interested in politics than ever before.'

Policy A plan of action or guide that a political party or group decides upon. 'The party has a policy to cut taxes when it comes to power.'

Politician A person who has been elected and works in politics. 'Tony Blair was a politician for many years before becoming Prime Minister.'

Political Party An organised political party who share the same view and beliefs. 'The two major political parties in the UK are Labour and Conservative.'

Prime Minister / President In Britain and Australia the leader of the country is called the Prime Minister. 'George Washington was the first President of America. Robert Walpole is considered Britain's first Prime Minister.'

To Run When an American politician, for example, tries to become the President, he 'runs for President'. 'George Clinton successfully ran for President twice.'

Spin To try and deceive / fool people by giving misleading information. 'The government are trying to put a positive spin on the situation.'

To Vote (Verb) To choose which person or political party you prefer in an election. This is done in private and by choosing from a paper list. 'Have you decided who you are going to vote for in the election?'

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