Here are some important concepts that you might encounter in your readings. The definitions must be accurate, so that you have a proper understanding of the subject matter.

Source: Andrew Heywood, Politics. (Macmillan Press: London) (1998).

By-election: is an election held between general elections to fill a seat vacant because a member has resigned, been expelled or died during a government’s term of office.

Common Market: is an agreement between countries allowing goods produced in one country to enter another country without having to pay taxes.

Citizenship: Membership of a state; a relationship between the individual and stated based on reciprocal rights and responsibilities

Cold War: The period of rivalry between the USA-dominated West and the USSR dominated East that extended from 1945 to the collapse of Communism between 1989-1991

Communism: The principle of the common ownership of property; communism often refers to the movements or regimes on Marxist principles.

Concept: A general idea about something, usually expressed in a single word or short phrase.

Constitution: A set of rules that establish the duties, powers and functions of the institutions of government and define the relationship between the state and the individual.

Corruption: A failure to carry out proper responsibilities as a result of the pursuit of private (usually material) gains.

Democracy: Rule by the people; democracy implies both participation and government in public interest.

Economic liberalization: A belief in the market as a self-regulating mechanism tending naturally to deliver prosperity and opportunity for all.

Election: A device for filling an office or post through choices made by a designated body of people.

Ethnicity: A sentiment of loyalty towards a distinctive population, cultural group or territorial area; bonds that are cultural rather than racial.

Executive: The branch of government that is responsible for implementing or carrying out law and policy.

Fascism: An ideology characterized by a belief in anti-rationalism, struggle, charismatic leadership, elitism and extreme nationalism. Fascism refers specifically to the Mussolini regime in Italy.


Federation: A federation is a group of states united with one central government. However, each state has its own state government to deal with local matters.


Fiscal Policy: Government tax and spending policies.

Franchise: Right to vote.

Free market: The principle or policy of unfettered market competition, free from government intervention.

Free trade: A system of trading between states not restricted by tariffs or other forms of protectionism.

Globalization: A complex web of inter-connectedness through which life is increasingly shaped by decisions or events taken at a distance.


Grant: is money given by the government for a particular purpose. Unlike loans, the money given does not have to be repaid.


Gross Domestic Product (GDP): The total financial value of goods and services produced in an economy over one year.

Nation: A group of people who share a common cultural inheritance and regard themselves as natural political community.

Nation-state: A sovereign political association, within which citizenship and nationality overlap; one nation, within a single state.

Nationalism: An ideology that takes the nation to be the central principle of political organization; nationalism can be associated with a wide range of ideas and goals.

National self-determination: The principle that the nation is a sovereign entity; self-determination implies both national independence and democratic rule.

Order: A stable and predictable pattern of behavior associated in particular with personal security and public safety.

Parliament: A forum for debate and deliberation; parliament is equivalent to assembly or legislature.

Politics: The activity through which people make, preserve and amend general rules under which they live.

Presidential government: A system of government in which the executive authority is concentrated in the hands of a president, whose office is politically and constitutionally separate from the legislature.


Prime Minister: A head of government whose power is derived from the leadership of the largest party in the assembly.

Sovereignty: Absolute and unlimited power; sovereignty can imply either supreme legal authority or unchallenged political power.


State: A political association that establishes sovereign jurisdiction within defined territorial borders, characterized by its monopoly of legitimate violence.