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Useful Vocabulary for Election Times

As the U.S. elections are right around the corner, we think now is the perfect time to learn some useful election vocabulary. 


In presidential elections, the citizens of a country votan por (vote for) the candidate of their choice. In a referendum, however, voters will votar a favor de / en contra de (for or against) a particular decision. 


No sé si voy a votar por Manuel u Oscar

I don't know if I am going to vote for Manuel or Oscar

en las elecciones presidenciales.

in the presidential elections.

Caption 33, Lecciones con Carolina - Conjunciones disyuntivas

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As we all know, political parties run campaigns to persuade citizens to vote for them. We also know about the promises that politicians make when están en campaña (they are campaigning). 


"La mejor campaña" dijo, "es la del pueblo."

"The best campaign" he said, "is that of the people."

Caption 24, Andrés Manuel López Obrador - En campaña

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Interestingly, there is an expression with the word campaña that is not related to presidential or marketing campaigns. Ponerse en campaña means "to start working on something" or "become active."


Está todo claro. -Nos ponemos hoy mismo en campaña.

Everything is clear. -We'll start working on that today.

Caption 69, Yago - 10 Enfrentamientos

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We can find some compelling examples of electoral promises in Felipe Calderon's Campaign cuando se postulaba como presidente de México (when he was running for president of Mexico) back in 2006.


Igualdad de oportunidades para todos,

Equal opportunity for everyone,

una democracia efectiva, que le dé sentido a nuestra vida cotidiana

an effective democracy that gives meaning to our everyday lives,

y finalmente desarrollo sustentable.

and finally, sustainable development.

Captions 59-61, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad

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Unsurprisingly, these promises are pretty much the same in each contienda electoral  (presidential race) and are often expressed at debates televisados (televised debates) before the veda electoral (election silence), the period in some countries prior to the election in which it is forbidden to show any sort of political propaganda.


Pero no sólo a los PANistas,

But not only the PANistas,

como espero que sea el candidato de Acción Nacional

since I hope he'll be the candidate for Acción Nacional

en la próxima contienda presidencial de dos mil seis.

in the next presidential race in two thousand six.

Captions 71-73, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad

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While in some countries, voting is mandatory (sufragio obligatorio), and a fine is imposed if one does not ejercer el derecho al voto (exercise one's right to vote), in countries like the U.S. or Mexico, it is optional (sufragio voluntario), and campaigns are thus conducted to encourage people to vote. Tu Rock es votar was a commercial created to persuade young people to participate in los comicios (the elections) in Mexico's 2006 presidential race. A similar campaign, as Armando explains, also enjoyed success in the U.S.:


Y lo habían hecho funcionar muy bien, y habían inscrito a

And they had made it work very well, and they had registered

más de millón y medio de jóvenes

more than one and a half million young people

para votar en el proceso electoral norteamericano.

to vote in the American election process.

Y ayudaron a, entre muchos otros esfuerzos,

And they helped to, among many other efforts,

Captions 20-23, Tu Rock es Votar - Armando

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The ways in which we cast our votes may also differ. Particularly in these times of COVID-19, some countries may opt for an electronic vote (voto electrónico) or mail-in voting over the traditional ballot box (urna), which brings us to the saying that el futuro del país se decidirá en las urnas (the future of the country will be decided at the ballot box). And, you may be surprised to hear Argentinians and Uruguayans speak about el cuarto oscuro (literally "the dark room"). Mind you, there is no connotation of darkness or dishonesty in this expression, which is simply the name of the voting booth in those nations.


Voting is a right and a responsibility, so we should always stay informed and carefully think it through before weighing in on who will be in charge, or, as Armando puts it:


Y es elegir a quien va a tomar las riendas de este país.

And that is to choose who is going to take the reins of this country.

Caption 84, Tu Rock es Votar - Armando

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We hope you've enjoyed this lesson, and don't forget to vote! Oh, and leave us your comments and suggestions.


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