Vocabulary: That’s politics for you!



Read the following text, paying extra attention to the words and phrases in bold. You are more likely to remember words if they are from the same lexical field and in context. You can also listen to the text for more convenience.


Finland is a republic and its people live in a democracy. We have a multiparty democracy unlike, say, the United States where the system is basically a two-party democracy (the Democratic Party and the Republican Party), and in the United Kingdom where there are three big parties (the Labour Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats).  A two-party system means that there are mainly two parties that compete for seats in parliament. A presidential election is held every six years in Finland. The same person may be elected to only two consecutive terms of office. A general election, in which the 200 members of parliament are elected, is called every four years. Municipal elections are also held every four years. As Finland is a member of the European Union, Finnish voters also get to vote for the members of the European Parliament, MEPs. In many European countries a referendum may occasionally be held in which the people vote in order to make a decision about a particular issue. In Finland, those who stand for election do not run such colourful campaigns as they do in the US.  In recent years there have been two parties fighting for the title of the biggest party in Finland, the Social Democratic Party and the Centre Party. The third biggest party has long been the National Coalition Party. Next in order are the Left Alliance and the Green League of Finland. The so-called small parties are the Swedish People’s Party and the Christian Democrats.  Voting takes place at a polling station, but if you are unable to vote on the actual election day, you can register your vote in advance by means of a postal vote, even from abroad. Opinion polls are held before the election to try to gauge public opinion, and exit polls may also be conducted in which voters are asked how they have voted as they are leaving the polling station.

In today’s world, dictatorship is becoming a rare form of government. However, there is still a handful of dictators who try to rule their country with an iron fist, sometimes resulting in a coup or revolution. Other countries, like the United Kingdom for example, have a monarch whose children become heirs to the throne. In the UK, the institution primarily responsible for making laws, discussing major issues and raising taxes is the Parliament, which consists of the sovereign (= the king or queen), the House of Commons and the House of Lords. In the US it is Congress and the Senate that have the power to pass laws. Only a person over 35 who was born in the US can run for President. The White House is synonymous with the US President and his advisors, while Number Ten is synonymous with the British Prime Minister and his.

Perussuomalaiset = The Finns Party