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common law

A diplomatic agreement that does not have the same binding

force as a treaty.
The devotion to the interests of others above that of the self.
The opposite of egoism.
A condition of lawlessness and disorder brought about by the
absence of any controlling authority.
A method of secret voting, normally in a written form.
The name for proposed legislation entered into the house /
houses of parliament to be debated upon for approval.

Not a law but a government rule or regulation. see delegated

The board of directors of executive government. Made up of the
President, The Prime Minister and ministers responsible for the
relevant government departments
The law of the land which comes from neither the statute books
nor the constitution but from court law reports
The set of basic rules by which a country or state is governed.
From the Greek demos for the ordinary, common people and
kratos for power or strength.
A vote taken in Parliament. Also another name for an
To court or curry favour for political or other advantage

Geographical areas used as a criterion for political

In optional preferential voting systems, a vote that was not fully
exhausted vote completed and, in being counted, has reached its last

ex officio
free vote

by virtue of ones office. The power to do something or hold

an office by virtue of the fact that one holds an earlier office.
A system under which governmental powers are divided
between the central government and the states or provinces
The right to vote.
a.k.a. a conscience vote. The rare instance where an M.P. is
not obliged to vote according to his/her partys call.
Either an election that is not local but is for the state or national
governments or an election that is the final arbiter after the
preliminary ones have been dispensed with.
Gross Domestic Product is the total amount produced on
shore, whether by local orforeign entities.

grass roots


The ordinary and common people, often agrarian. Term

generally refers to movements / political parties created by
them rather than by professionals, elitists or established
Derogatory term for a writer or journalist of very ordinary,
unexceptional talents employed to do routine work.

The common people, as compared to the wealthy, higher educated

or elite.
Involved in political campaigning, especially making speeches
The legislative equivalent of a criminal prosecution, where a
impeachment high government official is subject, by a house of Parliament or
Congress, to an investigation, indictment and subsequent trial.
Hoi polloi


The current holder of a seat in the legislature or of an office of


An invalid vote on the ballot paper. Made intentionally or by

informal vote accident where the voter misunderstands how he/she has to
indicate the choice for the desired candidates.
A judicial philosophy advocating that courts are allowed to take
an active role, not supported by existing law, to remedy alleged
wrongs in society.
A clique, faction or cabal, often military, taking power after an
overthrow of the government. From the latin juncta for join.
jus ad bellum The alleged justification a country will use to go to war.
Keynesianism Theories of very influential economist of the twentieth century.
kitchen cabinet An informal name for the chief executives closest advisers.
Cynical term used to describe highly corrupt governments
where politicians, bureaucrats and their protected friends
engage in sales of government licences, perquisites and other

A political philosophy of self reliance, reason and maximum nonlibertarianism interference by the state in matters of both economic and personal
A right wing concept that espouses the practice that any public
service that could reasonably be solely supplied by the market, or
harmful action that could be self regulated
A war, often not formally declared, fought to obtain specific
limited war political / territorial objectives, rather than to obtain the
unconditional surrender of the enemy.

Large, intimidating, medieval, hand held weapon. Appears with

the speaker in lower houses and used as a symbol of authority.
Adjective to describe manipulative and cynical political activity
where morals and principles have little account.
The first ever speech given by an MP in Parliament and
maiden speech
traditionally granted the courtesy of no interjections.


A non-profit non-government organisation.

Not -In -My -Back -Yard. A pejorative term to describe
opposition to any public policy decision, which in itself is
considered beneficial.
A prerequisite to standing as a political candidate. Made only
after the writ for an election has been issued.
A form of government where rule is by the few and in their own
Preferential voting where one has the option to choose to mark
off only the number of preferences as one wishes.

As compared with a postal vote, a vote cast at a polling place in

the elector's home division on polling day.
An informal practice occurring in Parliamentary systems where a
member of one party will agree not to vote on a specific bill.
Expedient justice applied in good faith but absent of the rule of
palm tree justice
law: paying little or no attention to existing law.
parliamentary The privilege while (physically) in Parliament that allows an MP
to say anything without fear of prosecution for slander.
One of the tenets of Responsible Government whereby, for a set
Question Time period of time each sitting day in parliament, government
ministers must be answerable to any MPs questions.
In proportional representation systems, the percentage or actual
number of votes a candidate needs to win one of the seats
Preferential voting used in conjunction with proportional
preferential representation.
Electoral procedure practised many countries whereby an elected
official, including the chief executive, can be recalled from office
by the voters.
ordinary vote


A countrys economic status achieved following two consecutive

quarters of a drop in real GNP.

In SMV systems the periodical redrawing of electoral boundaries

redistribution to ensure each electorate conforms to the prerequisites of the
electoral laws.
An electoral system whereby candidates do not win office by
popular choice but by lottery
The adjudicator in lower house debates and divisions (votes). An
elected MP who does not vote unless there would otherwise be a
To tell a news story in a certain way so as to turn the emphasis in
a politically favourable direction.
Government controlled by the church/priesthood or a proclaimed
living god. Examples could be ancient Egypt and modern day
A non government, non-profit, research institute of scholars /
think tank physical scientists generally dedicated to the advocacy of some
broad political, economic or social belief.
A novel idea put forward, but not embraced, by a politician in
trial balloon
order to gauge its popularity.
Often known as the Senate, and in federations as the 'States'
upper house
Description for people of influence who support a cause they fail
useful idiot to understand the full ramifications of, and end up being
exploited by the leaders of that cause.
Consequentialist philosophy originally espoused by 18th century
utilitarianism writer Jeremy Bentham whereby the best policy is that which
gives the greatest happiness to the greatest number.
vote of no
In parliamentary systems, where the executive can only exist at
confidence the behest of the majority of the legislature.
Short for vox populi which is Latin for voice of the people. The
vox pop
recorded opinions of ordinary people speaking informally in
public places.
A privileged single vote that, according to some systems of rules
for decision-making, has the effect of blocking or negating a
majority decision.
Derogatory term for a Greens politician or supporter who
allegedly is more concerned with pushing socialist policies
than his or her concern for the environment: green on the
outside but red in the centre.
Someone engrossed in the technicalities of some aspect of
public policy.
In electoral terms a writ is a document commanding an
electoral officer to hold an election and contains dates for the

close of rolls, the close of nominations, the polling day and

the return of the writ. The issue of a writ triggers the electoral
xenophobia - irrational dislike of foreign people and foreign things.
standard of comparison. For example, in the debate over
health care reform in 1993, the Canadian health care
yardstick system was sometimes used as a yardstick to evaluate
the American system and the proposed reforms.
German for spirit of the time. The prevalent beliefs and
attitudes of a place / country at any particular period.
Fanatic; a person who is extremely partisan. Adolf Hitler
was a zealot, so also, by most people's reckoning, was
the Ayotollah Khomeini.
A German word now commonly used in English. It means
literally spirit of the times, and refers to prevailing
currents of thought and feeling in a society. For example,
an aspect of the Zeitgeist of America in the 1990s is
disillusionment with and distrust of political institutions.
a situation in which a gain for one must result in a loss
for another.