Politics and public institutions

Look at the definitions below taken from a dictionary of politics. Make sure you understand not only the words listed but the words used in the definitions too.

Types of government

– republic: a state governed by representatives and, usually, a president
– monarchy: a state ruled by a king or queen
– democracy: government of, by and for the people
– dictatorship: system of government run by a dictator
– independence: freedom from outside control; self-governing

People and bodies involved in politics

– Member of Parliament (MP): a representative of the people in Parliament
– politician: someone for whom politics is a career
– statesman/woman: someone who uses an important political position wisely and well
– Prime Minister: the head of government or leading minister in many countries
– chamber: hall used by a group of legislators; many countries have two chambers
– cabinet: a committee of the most important ministers in the government
– President and Vice-President: the head of state in many modern states
– Mayor: head of a town or city council
– ambassador: top diplomat representing his/her country abroad
– embassy: the building where an ambassador and his/her staff are based
– ministry: a department of state headed by a minister.


– constituency: a political area whose inhabitants are represented by one MP
– candidate: someone who stands in an election
– policy: the programme of action of a particular party or government
– majority: the number of votes by which a person wins an election
– referendum: a direct vote by the population on some important public issue
– by(e)-election: an election in one constituency in contrast to a General Election
– marginal seat: a parliamentary seat held by a very small majority of votes
– the opposition: members of parliament who do not belong to the party in power
– stand/run for Parliament: to be a candidate in an election
– vote: to choose in a formal way, e.g. by marking a ballot paper
– elect: to choose someone or something by voting