Increase your English Vocabulary: Elections
In a rush? Jump straight to
Hi I’m Hilary and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. Welcome if this is the first time that you’ve listened to one of our podcasts. If you visit our website at www.adeptenglish.com, you’ll find lots more material to help you learn English through listening.
Someone asked me the other day, what’s the difference between the podcasts and Course One? My answer is the podcasts come out weekly and are on all kinds of topics, but with explanations of some of the words, so that it’s easier for English language learners to follow. What you get on our courses, in particular Course One: Activate your Listening is much more in-depth and structured learning through listening. We learn whole subject areas, with English vocabulary tutorials, which really help increase your vocabulary. But what’s also really valuable to you, Course One includes a lot of English conversation, between two people. There are other voices as well as mine on Course One. This means you can work on your understanding of real English conversation. You hear the conversation, then we go through the meaning step by step. Training your ear to follow English conversation is essential and you get lots of practice at this on Course One. Once you’ve done Course One, you’ll be wanting to find somewhere to practice your new English conversation skills!
So this week’s topic is elections – lets look at some of the vocabulary around elections. So the word election means when you vote, when you think about which people, which politicians you would like to have in your government and you go and put a cross on a piece of paper, against the name of the person that you would like. This weekend is the second round of the election in France – so as I speak to you, the French people are voting and we’ll see whether Emmanuel Macron or Marine Le Pen will be the next president of France. It looks as though Emmanuel Macron will win with a comfortable majority. Majority means a bigger share, a bigger number of votes. Second round, because there has already been a first round. There were eleven candidates then, eleven people to choose from. And the first round brought the race down to two candidates. Probably what is most noticeable is that neither candidate, neither Macron nor Le Pen belong to the traditional Republican or Socialist parties. Something different seems to be happening in politics. It’s not the typical choice between left wing or right wing. It’s much more between globalism and nationalism.
So that’s the French election, but we also are in the run-up to a general election here in the UK, and we had local elections last week. Globalism and nationalism are relevant for us too. Globalism means that you see your country in the context of the whole world and are happy to govern your country with consideration for the rest of the world, sometimes acting perhaps against your national interest, for the good of others. Nationalism means that you put your nation, your country first. For both sides, there are sensible ideas and more extreme ideas, of course. Surely there needs to be a balance of both viewpoints?
In the UK last week, we had local elections to decide who will run our local government, who is in charge in the various councils in all the small areas around the UK. For us, it’s often still a choice between left wing Labour Party and more right wing Conservative Party. But other political parties also run some of the councils. When I went in to vote, the people in the polling station – the polling station is the place where you do your vote – they were very bored indeed. It was very quiet and they hadn’t had many customers. In fact the turn-out was only 36% overall. That means that out of every 100 people who were able to vote in these elections, only 36 did so. That’s turn-out, the number of people who voted. Perhaps people’s expectation of local government is that there’s not likely to be a change, or maybe they don’t see any difference, no matter which side controls local government, so perhaps they don’t bother to vote. Hopefully, it will be a much higher turn-out in the general election. I don’t think that it’s good for democracy, when people don’t vote, so I hope it is.
So just like in France, we are also in the middle of an election campaign. Campaign means the weeks before the election, when the politicians are everywhere. The news is full of politics and it’s hard to escape from, even if you want to. The general election in the UK is on the 8th June. Now the word ‘presidential’ is used of the French election, because they have a president, an overall leader for the country. We don’t have a presidential system in the UK. We have a Prime Minister, not a president. This means fewer powers for the Prime Minister and on most things, they still have to succeed in persuading parliament to vote their way, to support them. So our process to elect central government is called a General Election.
One of the reasons why our Prime Minister, Theresa May has decided to call a general election, apart from the fact that she was ahead, she was winning in the polls – was that she wants to have a larger majority in parliament. The polls are the numbers, the estimate of how much support each political party has. Theresa May wants to have more Members of Parliament who belong to the same party as she does in our parliament. This means that when she’s doing the ‘tough job of negotiating Brexit’ as she calls it, she isn’t constantly battling to get her ideas approved in the UK parliament. There are quite a lot of people in the UK, MPs, politicians included, who still didn’t vote for Brexit and still really don’t want it to happen. So they will try to make it as difficult for Theresa May as they can. This is even though it may affect her power to negotiate in Europe and it may weaken Britain’s position. Notably there lots of Scottish MPs, who would like to stay within the EU as an independent Scotland. They’ll try to make it difficult for her. And the Liberal Democrats are campaigning with a policy to have a second EU Referendum in the UK. So again, it seems as though globalism and nationalism are the forces, rather than traditional left or right.
So it will be an interesting few weeks. Just as with Emmanuel Macron, there’s little doubt that Theresa May will win the UK general election, but it’s more a matter of by how much. How much majority will she have? Voters in the UK are very split and rather like in France, not along the usual lines. There are people in Theresa May’s Conservative party, who didn’t vote for Brexit, and in fact Theresa May herself voted remain when the EU referendum happened. There are also a lot of people who normally vote Labour, the other main political party in our system, but some are switching sides because they want Brexit to go well. Labour are having big problems because their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has a very strong following within his own party, but isn’t seen as someone who would be an effective Prime Minister. It is hard to imagine him negotiating the Brexit deal in Brussels. If you know American politics, Theresa May’s party are a bit like the Republican Party in America (though I’m meaning probably before Donald Trump!), but they’re a bit further left than that. And the other party, Labour are more like the Democrats in America, though quite a lot further left at the moment – Jeremy Corbyn is hardly Barak Obama. But what’s interesting is that rather like in France, people are taking sides, less to do with left or right, Conservatives or Labour, but more about whether they see Brexit as a disaster, a catastrophe or more an opportunity.
So let’s get in the beer, the popcorn, maybe a bottle of wine and turn on the television. For me, it feels similar to when there’s a major football tournament going on, like the World Cup or the Euros! It’s compulsive TV viewing for a few weeks of the year! That may sound as though I don’t take it seriously. I do take it seriously – it’s just that as long as you’ve voted, what more can you do? It’s really important to vote, but after that, there’s nothing more you can do, but sit back and enjoy the show!
That’s enough for now, have a lovely day and speak to you again soon. Goodbye.