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ABSENTEE BALLOT  look up translate image
A vote cast by someone who cannot reach a polling station. Can be postal or by proxy (see below).
AGENT  look up translate image
A person who represents candidates in their dealings with the electoral authorities and runs their campaigns.
BALLOT  look up translate image
Another term for vote.
BALLOT BOX  look up translate image
Sealed box with a slit in the lid, into which voters place their ballot papers.
BALLOT PAPER  look up translate image
Paper containing a list of all candidates standing in a constituency. Voters mark their choice with a cross.
BATTLEBUS  look up translate image
A vehicle used by a party to transport its leader or other senior figures around the country to rallies or to meet the people.
BOUNDARY COMMISSION  look up translate image
The body which reviews constituencies every 8-12 years to make sure they represent current population patterns. Widespread changes in Scotland in the wake of the creation of a Scottish Parliament mean they have had a reduction in seats.
BUDGET  look up translate image
The government's tax-raising and spending plans, outlined once a year by the chancellor of the exchequer.
BY-ELECTION  look up translate image
An election held between general elections, usually because the sitting MP has died or resigned.
CABINET  look up translate image
The group of senior ministers at the head of the government.
CANDIDATE  look up translate image
Someone putting themselves up for election. Once Parliament has been dissolved, there are no MPs, only candidates.
CANVASSING  look up translate image
During a campaign, active supporters of a party ask voters who they will vote for and try to drum up support for their own candidates.
COALITION  look up translate image
When two or more parties govern together, when neither has an overall majority. Coalitions are very rare in Westminster; the last was the administration led by Winston Churchill during the Second World War. The Liberals propped up the last years of the Labour Government of 1974-9, but did not actually take a part in its running.
CONSTITUENCY  look up translate image
The geographical unit which elects a single MP. There will be 646 in the UK after the election.
DEPOSIT  look up translate image
500 paid by candidates or their parties to be allowed to stand. It is returned if the candidate wins 5% or more of the votes cast.
DEVOLUTION  look up translate image
The delegation of powers to other parliamentary bodies within the UK, specifically, the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies.
DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT  look up translate image
The act of ending a Parliament.
ELECTION EXPENSES  look up translate image
Candidates are only allowed to spend a limited amount of money on their individual campaign. Accounts must be submitted after the poll proving they did not exceed this limit.
ELECTORAL REGISTER  look up translate image
A list of all those in a constituency entitled to vote. Also known as electoral roll.
EXIT POLL  look up translate image
A poll asking people how they have voted just after they have left the polling station.
FIRST PAST THE POST  look up translate image
Term used to describe the UK's parliamentary election system. It means a candidate only needs a simple majority - more votes than his or her rivals - to be elected.
FRANCHISE  look up translate image
The right to vote. Now available to those over 18 and on the electoral register.
GENERAL ELECTION  look up translate image
Election at which all seats in the House of Commons are contested. General elections must take place at least every five years, but are usually held after about four years on a date chosen by the prime minister.
HUNG PARLIAMENT  look up translate image
If after an election no party has an overall majority, then parliament is said to be "hung". The main parties will then try to form a coalition with one or more of the minor parties.
LANDSLIDE  look up translate image
The name given to an election which one party wins by a very large margin. Famous landslides in UK elections include Labour's victory in 1945, the Conservative win in 1983 and the election which brought Tony Blair to power in 1997.
MANIFESTO  look up translate image
A public declaration of a party's ideas and policies, usually printed during the campaign. Once in power, a government is often judged by how many of its manifesto promises it manages to deliver.
MARGINAL CONSTITUENCIES  look up translate image
Seats where the gap between the two or more leading parties is relatively small. Often regarded as less than a 10% margin ie requiring a swing of 5% or less, though very dependent on prevailing political conditions.
MINORITY GOVERNMENT  look up translate image
A government formed by a party which does not have an absolute majority in the House of Commons. Harold Wilson led a Labour minority government between February and October 1974.
MP MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT  look up translate image
Strictly this includes members of the House of Lords, but in practice means only members of the House of Commons. When an election is called Parliament is dissolved and there are no more MPs until it assembles again.
NOMINATION PAPERS  look up translate image
A candidate must be nominated on these documents by 10 voters living in the constituency.
NOTIONAL RESULT  look up translate image
After major boundary changes like that in 1997, the main broadcasters agree how altered constituencies were likely to have voted in the previous election. This gives them a base against which to compare the new results.
NUMBER 10  look up translate image
The official residence in Downing Street of the British prime minister since the 18th century. Number 10 and Downing Street both serve as terms to describe the prime minister and his or her inner circle, as in "Number 10 has said that".
OPINION POLL  look up translate image
A survey asking people's opinion on one or more issues. In an election campaign, the key question is usually about which party people will vote for.
OPPOSITION  look up translate image
The largest party not in government is known as the official opposition. It receives extra parliamentary funding in recognition of its status.
PARTY ELECTION BROADCAST (PEB)  look up translate image
Broadcasts made by the parties and transmitted on TV or radio. By agreement with the broadcasters, each party is allowed a certain number according to its election strength and number of candidates fielded.
PERSONATION  look up translate image
The offence of impersonating someone else in order to use their vote.
POLL  look up translate image
Another term for vote or election.
POLLING CLERK  look up translate image
The person in the polling station who checks the electoral register to verify that the voter is eligible to cast his vote and at that particular polling station.
POLLING DAY  look up translate image
Election day.
POLLING STATION  look up translate image
Location where people go to cast their votes.
POSTAL VOTE  look up translate image
People unable to get to a polling station are allowed to vote by post if they apply in advance. They are also allowed a proxy vote.
PRESIDING OFFICER  look up translate image
The person responsible for ensuring the conduct of the ballot in polling stations. They have to ensure that ballot boxes are kept secure and are responsible for transferring them safely to the count.
PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION  look up translate image
Systems of voting which aim to give parties the representation in a parliament justified by their level of voting support.
PROROGATION  look up translate image
The act of ending a session of Parliament. Performed when an election is called.
PROXY VOTE  look up translate image
People unable to get to a polling station are allowed to appoint someone to vote on their behalf if they apply in advance. They are also allowed a postal vote.
PSEPHOLOGY  look up translate image
The study of voting and voting patterns.
QUEEN'S SPEECH  look up translate image
The government's legislative programme for the coming session of Parliament. Delivered by the Queen, but written by the government.
RECOUNT  look up translate image
If a result is close, any candidate may ask for a recount. The process can be repeated several times if necessary until the candidates are satisfied. The returning officer has the final say on whether a recount takes place.
REFERENDUM  look up translate image
A binding vote of the whole country on a single issue.
RETURNING OFFICER  look up translate image
The official in charge of elections in each of the constituencies.
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Election terms
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Created on 2011-05-14 07:02:39
Number of terms 63
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Sources
  • US elections glossary - Times Online
    www.timesonline.co.uk
    527s: a tax-exempt political interest group formed to influence voters; they do not make donations directly to any party or candidate, so they are not regula
  • BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | The Basics | Glossary of election terms
    news.bbc.co.uk
    A guide to words and phrases commonly used during election campaigns.
  • By the People: Election 2004 . Election glossary | PBS
    www.pbs.org
  • Glossary of Election Terms
    www.sos.state.ia.us
  • Political Language - A Glossary for the US Election - United States, myVOA Blog post
    community.myvoa.com
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