The Definitive Vocabulary List on Politics in Spanish
Over the last 6 months I have been discussing politics in Spanish on a daily basis and I am currently living in Portugal! Why? To be more specific, I am teaching in Madeira, a Portuguese island with a strong relation to Venezuela. Many years ago, a large group of people emigrated to Venezuela from this island, and now they’re slowly returning. For this reason, there’s a huge Spanish-speaking community here.
Every time I ask for an Uber, it turns out that my driver speaks Spanish. It’s enough to ask ¿Y cómo está Venezuela ahora? (And how is Venezuela now?) to provoke an interesting conversation about politics in Venezuela and Portugal.
Politics is a great conversational topic. In this article, I’ll explain why I think politics are essential for good conversations and I’ll provide you with an extensive vocabulary list on politics in Spanish.
At the end, you can check your understanding and see how much you really know about the current political situations in Spanish-speaking countries.
Why Should We Talk About Politics?
I remember my parents used to say that we should never discuss politics or religion at the dinner table. Of course, it never worked out that way. Every family meeting eventually presented an opportunity for us to practice civil disagreement—and sometimes, it wasn’t so “civil” afterall.
Growing up, I found this rule of avoiding politics to be unnecessary and void of purpose. Why stay quiet on topics that fuel us with passion and curiosity? Let’s end this taboo on political discourse and learn some vocabulary to talk about topics that affect every single person worldwide.
Travelling to Spanish countries gives you the opportunity to meet people living in political systems that are often quite different from yours.
With an open mind and a sense of curiosity, do your best to encourage yourself to talk about politics in Spanish.
Luckily, people are usually eager to engage in discussions about political topics and when you ask ¿y cómo van las cosas en el país? (And how are things going in the country?) people will start talking about all types of political issues.
This blog post will help you be prepared to understand and add your insight.
How to Learn About Politics in Spanish
I’ve heard people admitting to having learned Spanish from films, series, and songs but not so often from news.
News programs are great for learning languages. Presenters tend to use correct language, without too many informal expressions. They’re also not too formal since they aim to appeal to a general audience. You’re unlikely to learn expressions that will turn a discussion in politics in Spanish with your friends into an awkward situation.
So, where can you get your Spanish news?
I highly recommend watching television as a way to access the news. Living in the 21st century gives us opportunities to watch direct TV news from almost everywhere. If you live in the US, you’ll have no problem finding channels with politics in Spanish. Try out RTVE.es, which lets you follow daily news content 24/7.
Listening to audio without images is a powerful way to train your ear, and it lets you listen to programs about politics in Spanish while doing other things around the house. Radio does not demand as much attention as TV and it’s a great source of vocabulary and common expressions.
I like listening to Union Radio in Caracas, Venezuela to stay up to date on the volatile political situation there.
I tend to start my day over a cup of coffee while reading the news online. I lived in Mexico for more than 10 years and El Universal was my first choice of news. However, any periódico (“newspaper”) from any Spanish-speaking country will do, and switching between them will strengthen your vocabulary while it broadens your global political awareness.
Podcasts give you access to learning Spanish “on-the-go,” which provide you with impactful audio exposure wherever you are, no matter what you’re doing. El primer café, a 20-minute news podcast from Argentina, will provide you with many potential topics for your discussions about politics in Spanish. If you’re especially keen on podcasts, read 5 Spanish News Podcasts You Don’t Want to Miss to get more ideas.
Twitter is simple, engaging, and highly valuable as a source to practice the art of speaking about politics in Spanish. You can follow hashtags #politicsinspanish where you’ll experience all sorts of political realms or you can follow a tweeter who focuses their channel on talking about politics in Spanish. For example, CNN en Español is a good one to start with.
Cognates about Politics in Spanish
You’ll be happy to know that there are many true cognates to use while talking about politics in Spanish. For those who need a refresher—cognates are words that are spelled similarly or sound similarly in two languages, such as English and Spanish. Relying on cognates allows you to take a break from trying to memorize all of the new vocabulary in your target language.
Let’s have a look at this list of cognates about politics in Spanish. Pepper in your Spanish accent and impress your native speaking friends.
|el discurso||discourse, speech|
Many more politically-oriented cognates exist that you’ll discover in the following sections. Most of the political words in English come directly from Latin, which is why they’re more similar to Spanish words than other everyday words.
Want to read about other English-Spanish cognates? Check out Easy Cognates for Beginning Spanish Learners.
Forms of Government and Ideologies
The advantage of talking about politics in Spanish is that you can get to know all different types of governments, even la monarquía (monarchy) in Spain. Most of the countries are repúblicas (republics) with a sistema democrático (democratic system), but many have suffered democratic fragility, erosion, or even breakdown and have moved towards un regímen autoritario (an authoritarian regime).
Inside the political systems we have all types of ideologies.
Let’s have a look at some of the possibilities:
|la derecha||the right|
|la izquierda||the left|
For those who practice each ideology, there exist adjectives to describe them. In relation to the chart above, the adjectives are the following:
While most adjectives above finish with -ista, two have different endings: conservador and liberal.
You can ask, for example:
¿Este candidato es izquierdista o derechista?
Is this candidate leftist or rightist?
People in Politics in Spanish
Since I already mentioned the word candidato (candidate), let’s have a look at the positions people have in politics.
|el/la congresista||congressman (in some countries, like the us)|
|el/la diputado/a||congressman (in other countries, like spain)|
|el/la ministro/a de…||minister of …|
|el/la primer ministro||prime minister|
|el/la secretario/a de …||secretary of …|
|el/la vicepresidente/a||vice president|
|el/ la votante||voter|
Democracy and its Problems in Politics in Spanish
Since most Spanish-speaking countries claim to be democratic, it will benefit your conversations to know vocabulary related to this political system.
|la libertad de expresión||freedom of speech|
|el mitin||meeting, rally|
Democratic “backsliding” is a common reality for many Spanish-speaking countries and knowing how to discuss the typical political problems that locals face in Latin America and Spain will boost your ability to comprehend and communicate in your Spanish conversations.
Here are the keywords you can use to discuss these issues:
|la división del pueblo||division of the people|
|El golpe de estado||coup|
|la inestabilidad política||political instability|
|La manifestación||demonstration, protest|
|el multipartidismo||multi-party system|
Quiz about Politics in Spanish
Now that your mind has been filled to the brim with political vocabulary, let’s see if you are ready for a challenge!
Check to see if you understand the questions below and put your political knowledge to the test to see if you can come up with a response related to politics in Spanish-speaking countries.
Click here for the translation of the quiz and to check your answers.
TRUE (Verdadero) OR FALSE (Falso)
- En España, hay un rey y una reina.
- Cuba es una república democrática.
- El presidente de México en 2021 es AMLO.
- Las elecciones municipales en República Dominicana en 2020 fueron suspendidas debido al fallo de las máquinas de votación.
- La persona con el cargo más alto en el gobierno argentino es el Primer Ministro.
- Costa Rica no es un país democrático.
- Hasta el 2021 Bolivia no ha tenido una presidenta.
Read the English translation of the questions here.
Click here to check the answer key.
Well done! You must feel like you’ve just completed a course on politics in Spanish. Well, almost! Good job! Politics is a fascinating topic that fuels passionate conversations about current events and possible changes. What’s more, it will help you improve your fluency and Spanish conversational skills.
Do you want another challenge? Sign up for a free class with one of our professional native speaking teachers from Guatemala and invite them to talk about politics in Spanish. You’ll practice your new acquired vocabulary and get some first-hand news!
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English translation of the questions
- In Spain, there is a king and a queen.
- Cuba is a democratic republic.
- The president of Mexico in 2021 is AMLO.
- The municipal elections in the Dominican Republic in 2020 were suspended due to the failure of electoral ballot machines.
- The person with the highest position in the Argentine government is the Prime Minister.
- Costa Rica is not a democratic country.
- Until 2021 Bolivia has not had a woman president.
- False. The form of government in Cuba is República socialista Marxista-leninista. ( Marxist-Leninist socialist republic)
- True. It stands for ANdrés Manuel López Obrador.
- True. There were failures in more than 80% of polling stations.
- False. It’s the president.
- False. Costa Rica has one of the strongest democracies in Latin America.
- False. Jeanine Áñez was an interim president from 12 November 2019 till 8 November 2020.
Did you get them all right? Congratulations!
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