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In the news: politics vocabulary

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'How do you know when a politician is lying? His lips move!'

'The first rule of politics: If you lie, don't get caught!'

'You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.' Abraham Lincoln

 Most people seem to think that politicians are dishonest and many people have no faith in the political process; however, America is heading towards a Presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain, and the English speaking media is full of political news. Here is some of the key vocabulary you will need to keep up with the news reports:


(Countable Noun / Verb) The act of holding a secret vote. As a verb, holding a secret vote.

'In democratic counties voting is done through a secret ballot. No one knows who you voted for.'


(Countable Noun) 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.

'There is little support for the new bill. I don't think it will ever become law.'


(Countable Noun) The time when different political parties agree on a something for a reason.

'During periods of war, coalitions between political parties are common.'


(Countable Noun) 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.'


(Noun) The process of choosing a new government or leader.

'In Britain elections are held every 4 or 5 years.'

Election Campaign

(Countable Noun) The organised effort to get a political party into power. Also known as a race.

'A political campaign is very expensive. The political parties spend lots of money on advertising.'


(Countable noun, but usually singular) All the people who can vote in an election.

'The party is working hard to win the support of the electorate.'


(Countable Noun) 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

(Group Noun) The opposition are the political party who are not in power. They are not the government but want to be.

'The role of the Opposition is to oppose and scrutinise the government.'


(Noun) 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.'


(Countable Noun) 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.'


(Noun: Job) A person who has been elected and works in politics.

'Tony Blair was a politician for many years before becoming Prime Minister.'

Political Party

(Countable Noun) 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

(Noun: Job) In Britain and Australia the leader of the country is called the Prime Minister.
In USA the leader of the country is called the President.

'George Washington was the first President of America. Robert Walpole is considered Britain's first Prime Minister.'

To Run

(Verb) When an American politician, for example, tries to become the President, he 'runs for President'

'George Clinton successfully ran for President twice.'


(Verb / Uncountable Noun) To try and deceive / fool people by giving misleading information.

'The government are trying to put a positive spin on the situation.'


(Phrasal Verb / Countable Noun) The amount of people who vote in an election and (as a verb) going to vote.

'Voter turn-out is only 40% in my country. Most people are not interested in voting.'

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?'

(Countable Noun) A way for a group to make a decision.

'They held a vote on what they should do next.'


Link: Talking about the environment

  • How old do you need to be to ___ in an election?

  • Do you think American will ___ Obama?

  • I think the party has some fresh and original ___.

  • A secret ___ is the way that voting occurs.

  • Have you ever thought about ___ in an election?

  • Voter ___ is at an all-time low.

  • A law is called a ___ before it becomes legal.

  • I've always wanted to be a ___.