10 Political Words In English

So we’ve just had the European elections and the results are in. Great news for some political parties – and terrible news for the other parties!

Here’s a guide to 10 essential words you need to know to talk about politics in English.

Voters

These are the people who vote. (Vote = put a X next to the party you want.)
Verb = vote, vote for ( a person or a party).
(Voters are also known as “the electorate”.)

Polling station

A “polling station” is the place where you go to vote. We also say “go to the polls” which means “have an election”. In the UK, a typical polling station is a church or school hall.

All you need to do to vote is go to your polling station, and say your name and address. If it matches with the name and address on the “electoral register” (the register of everyone who can vote), you can take your ballot paper (paper with all the candidates on it) and vote.

Politician

A politician (“pol-i-tish-un”) represents a “political party”. They work in “politics”. The adjective is “political”, as in “political party”.

Seat

A “seat” is a place in parliament. You can “win a seat”, “lose a seat”, “gain a seat” (= win an extra seat that you didn’t have before the election) or “hold a seat” ( = manage not to lose it.)

MP / MEP

An MP is a “member of parliament” – the person who represents the public in the UK parliament. An MEP is a “member of the European parliament”. People vote for their MP every time there is an election.

Referendum

In a referendum, the electorate votes on one issue – and decide yes or no to a particular issue. So in the European referendum of 2016, British voters could choose if they wanted to stay in or to leave the EU.

Referendums are rare in British politics.

Campaign

A campaign (“cam-pain”) is the time when you try to persuade people to vote for you. So we say “an election campaign” or “to campaign”.

“They’re campaigning for / against more investment.”

A landslide victory

If you win “by a landslide” you win by a huge percentage.

Turnout

This is the percentage of voters who actually voted. Turnout in general (= national) elections is generally higher in the UK than turnout in local or European elections.

Platform

A platform is the collection of policies and ideas that a political party represents. So a party can “run on a platform” of environmental policies, pro-industry policies, etc.