Government and Politics Glossary

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  • Created on: 18-04-13 20:54
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A legislative proposal that has completed the legislative process and entered into law
Adversarial politics
A situation typical of twoparty systems, where the governing part is faced by an opposition that
provides a contrasting policy programme and tries to gain political advantage from government
Alternative vote
A majoritarian system: a candidate must win an overall majority of votes to be elected. Voting is
preferential: electors indicate their preferences among candidates by writing 1, 2, 3 etc. beside the
name of their first, second and third choice candidates on the ballot paper. If no candidate achieves
an absolute majority of first preferences, the lowestplaced candidate drops out and the second
preferences of his or her voters are transferred to the remaining candidates. The process continues
until one candidate achieves an overall majority.
Asymmetric devolution
A form of devolution in which the political arrangements are not uniform, but differ from region to
An MP who does not hold a ministerial or shadow ministerial position

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Barnett formula
A formula devised by Joel Barnett MP in 1978 which determines the relative levels of public
spending in England Scotland , Wales and northern Ireland
Bilateral meeting
A meeting between the prime minister and a departmental minister in which policy is agreed.…read more

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Cabinet government
A system government in which executive power is vested in a cabinet, whose members exercise
collective responsibility, rather than single office
Catch all party
A political party with limited ideological conviction and a broad rather than classbased electoral
A status that recognises a person's rights and responsibilities as a full member of a particular state
including the right to play some role in politics.…read more

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Civil Society
This refers to voluntary organisations within a state, such as political parties, pressure groups,
charities and clubs. Within the general boundaries of the law, they establish their own rules and
conventions. In liberal democracies they are seen as an essential element of a free society.
A social group defined by social and economic status, the key groups being the working class
(manual workers) and middle class (nonmanual).…read more

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Coalition government
Governments made up of more than one political party.
Codified constitution
The laws, rules and principles specifying how a state is to be governed and laid out in a single
constitutional document
Collective responsibility
The convention that all members of the government are collectively responsible for government
policy. Ministers who oppose a key element of government policy should resign.…read more

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The policy that public bodies are compelled to open up contracts to provide services to outside
Consensus politics
A situation in which the main parties are in broad agreement on principles and, instead of offering
sharply contrasting programmes, seek support by claiming greater competence from their rivals.
This also seems to be linked with a twoparty system, leading to a fight between the `ins' and `outs'.…read more

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Constitutional government
Government that operates with an agreed set of legal and political constraints
Constitutional monarchy
A political system in which the monarch is the formal head of state but the monarchs legal powers
are exercised by government ministers
Control order
A form of close house arrest allowed under the prevention of terrorism act (2005).…read more

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Core vote
Voters who feel a strong attachment to a political party and vote for it in election after election.
Critical election
An election that brings significant, longterm changes in party support.
Dealigned electorate
An electorate in which class identifies and party loyalties are weak.
An individual who is authorised to act on behalf of others, but who is bound by clear instructions.…read more

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Direct rule
The government of northern Ireland from London, through special procedures at Westminster
A vote in parliament
Economic and momentary union
The creation of a single currency, central bal bank and single monetary policy
Economic model
Voters support the party most likely to improve their personal economic situation.
Electoral centre ground (or `middle ground').
A political position thought to be occupied by the majority of voters.…read more

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Electoral volatility
Significant changes in voting patterns from one election to another.…read more


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