Absent vote: A vote made at a polling place by an elector who is outside his or her own electoral district on election day.
Absolute majority: More than 50% of the total formal votes (50%+1).
might abstain in a vote. This means that they are voting neither
for nor against a motion. There is a special button on their
desk if they wish to abstain during a vote.
To change or improve something: for example, a piece of legislation.
A change proposed to a motion, a bill or committee report with the intention of improving it or providing an alternative.
A Member of Parliament who is not a minister and does not sit on the front benches reserved for Cabinet ministers or for opposition party officials.
Box: A receptacle for voters' ballots.
Ballot Paper: The paper printed, with the names of candidates, which a voter marks to record their vote in an election.
A legislature which has two separate chambers. In Barbados, they are the Senate and the House of Assembly. The two Chambers may or may not have equal privileges and powers, but are quite distinct from each other. This bicameral system has a significant impact on the way Parliament works.
A set of proposals that might become a law, if Parliament
agrees to it.
special election held to fill the seat of Parliament who has died or resigned.
The group of senior ministers in a government.
Competition by rival political candidates and organizations
for public office.
A person running for office in an election.
A group composed of all Senators and Members of Parliament from the same political party. Private caucus meetings are held regularly.
The presiding officer at a meeting of the House or a committee.
Servants: People who work for the Government.
They are expected to be neutral, in other words not do anything
that favours one Party over another.
Coalition: An arrangement between more than one political party/group.
This would usually happen when no party wins more than half
of the seats in the Parliament.
A geographical district from which a Member of
Parliament is elected. For example the House of Assembly in Barbados is comprised
of 30 MPs, each from a single-seat constituency; whereas there are 15 elected members to the House of Representatives in Grenada.
A person having the right to vote or elect; any of the voters
represented by a particular official.
set of basic rules by which a country or state is governed.
A discussion in which the arguments for and against a subject are presented according to specific rules.
Declaration of Poll: An announcement made by the returning officer naming the successful candidate elected as the Member/Councillor in the election.
A system of government by the whole population, usually through
elected representatives; a state so governed; any organisation
governed on democratic principles; an egalitarian and tolerant
form of society.
Dissolution: The bringing to an end of a Parliament, either at the conclusion of its five-year term or by proclamation of the Governor General. It is followed by a general election.
Electoral Roll (or Electoral List):The certified list of persons entitled to vote at an election.
Electors: Those on an electoral roll and certified to vote in an election.
The collective name given to all the people who have the right
These are used to pick the people in charge
of our country. Everyone over the age of 18 usually gets the
chance to vote in an election.
Poll: A poll taken of a small percentage of voters
as they leave the polls, used to forecast the outcome of an
election or determine the reasons for voting decisions.
use of long speeches or other tactics in Parliament to delay
deliberately a vote or decision.
past the post: A system of direct election by which
members of Parliament win their seats by garnering a plurality
of votes. The system is criticised by those who contend it
locks out parties that win a significant percentage of the
total vote but fall short of a plurality.
Formal (valid) vote: A ballot paper which has been correctly marked and counts in the outcome of the poll.
Franchise: The right to vote.
The dividing of a state, county, etc., into election districts
so as to give one political party a majority in many districts
while concentrating the voting strength of the other party
into as few districts as possible.
The involvement of common citizens in an issue or campaign.
name of the lower house of Parliament in Barbados.
of Representatives: The
name of the lower house of Parliament in Grenada.
An ideology is a set of ideas about how the country
should be run. Each Party in the Parliament has its own ideology.
This will help them to decide about the policies that they
want the Parliament to put into place.
A person currently in office.
A voter or candidate who does not belong to a political party.
Informal (invalid or spoilt) vote: A ballot paper left blank or wrongly marked that is excluded from the count so cannot contribute to the election of a candidate.
An election in which a particular victorious candidate
or party receives an overwhelming mass or majority of votes.
These are rules deciding what can and can't
be done in a country. If you break the law, you may be punished
in some way.
of the Opposition:
leader of the party or coalition of parties which is the next
largest after the government party in the Parliament,
and which is made up of members who do not support the government.
The process of making new laws.
Lobbyists are individuals and groups who actively communicate with federal public office holders in an attempt to influence Government decisions.
Mandate: The authority given to a government and its policies through an electoral victory.
A formal statement of political beliefs and objectives
presented by a party to the electorate. Manifestos have traditionally
been a lynchpin of party politics in the Caribbean.
Marginal Seat: A seat held by a Member of Parliament with a small majority of votes.
Member of Parliament (MP):
Member of Parliament. In common usage the term refers to a person elected to a seat in parliament.
A government formed by a party or coalition of parties which
does not have a majority in the country's Parliament in its own
A statement or argument that has to be debated and
voted upon in the Chamber.
Nomination: The process by which a person applies to become a candidate for election.
The person chosen by a political party to serve as its representative
in a general election.
An idea or person that does not support a specific party,
cause, or candidate.
The party or parties and independent members who do not belong to the governing party. The role of the opposition is to provide knowledgeable criticism of the Government and propose ways to improve its policies and legislation.
A Parliament is a group of elected representatives
that debates and decides upon new laws.
A supporter of a person, group, party, or cause, especially
a person who shows a biased, emotional allegiance.
A group of persons with common political opinions and purposes,
organized for gaining political influence and governmental
control, and for directing government policy.
These are the ideas and proposals that the different
parties have for changing things that they don't like, or
improving things they are in favour of.
Polical Party: An organised group with a common political philosophy which seeks to win and retain public office. Party organisations support or endorse candidates for elections who, if elected, usually vote as a group for its policies in parliament. The party with the greatest numbers in parliament forms the government.
A sampling or collection of opinions on a subject. Also, the
place where people vote.
A person whose occupation is the taking of public-opinion
The term used to describe the responsibilities of a member of Cabinet. For example, the portfolio of the Minister of Finance includes responsibility for the Department of Finance and the annual budget.
groups: These are organisations that want
to change policy. They focus on particular issues.
The leader of the party in power and the head of the Government.
A Member of Parliament who is not a Cabinet Minister, the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker or a Parliamentary Secretary.
A formal advisory body to the Crown appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. All Cabinet members must be sworn to the Privy Council, to which they are named for life.
Representation: This is a way of counting
the votes in an election. Under proportional representation,
the number of MPs each Party ends up with in the Parliament
is closely linked to the percentage of votes they got in the
Prorogue: Prorogation ends a session of Parliament, but does not dissolve Parliament. The Governor General prorogues Parliament at the request of the Prime Minister. Any bills that have not been passed by the time Parliament is prorogued will have to be reintroduced in the next session. All committee work ceases with prorogation as well.
Gallery: The seats on the balcony of the main
Chamber where the public can sit and watch what's happening.
Referendum: A referendum is held when the Government wants to find
out what everybody in the country thinks about a particular
Returning Officer: The electoral officer responsible for conducting an election in an electoral district or council area.
and Responsibilities: In a democracy, everyone has rights (things you are
free to do) and responsibilities (things you are expected
to do), e.g. you have the right to vote in an election, but
you have the responsibility to accept the choice of the majority;
you have the right to drive a car, but you have the responsibility
to pass a test first.
Seat: A seat in parliament held by an elected Member or the Member’s electoral district.
Secret Ballot: A vote made in secret.
Session: One of the fundamental time periods into which a Parliament is divided, usually consisting of a number of separate sittings. Sessions are begun by a Speech from the Throne and are ended by prorogation or dissolution.
Cabinet: The leadership of the opposition, poised
to take the reins of government and its ministries in the
event elections are called and lost by the ruling majority
party. Shadow cabinets operate in a manner akin to a government
in exile, formulating policies they are not empowered to enact
- but that might become law if they were elected.
A meeting of parliament within a session. Although usually a calendar day, a sitting may last for only a matter of minutes or may extend over several days.
Member who is elected by Parliament as its presiding
The presentation of information that is biased to favor the
candidates. Advisors to the candidates may engage in 'spin'
in their communications to the media.
Suffrage: The right to vote in political elections.
Table: To place a document before parliament or a committee for consideration or consultation.
Term: The length of time a parliament may sit before having to call an election.
of one chamber or house, especially of a law-making body.
(a) The way citizens choose a representative in an election.
(n) The process Senators and MPs use to make a decision.
number of people who actually vote on the day of the election.
This is usually expressed as a percentage of the electorate.
(for an election):
Formal orders, issued by the Governor-General in the requiring
that an election be held.