Discussing Political Issues in Spanish

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

When it comes to politics, it's necessary to differentiate between Spain and countries in Latin America. This article gives you a vocabulary guide of basic politics terms so you can discuss the political issues across oceans.

Three Basic Political Issues

Dra. Carvajal is a professor of Political Science at the Universidad Autónoma de México. As you She will help us learn how to discuss main political issues in Spain and Latin America. We'll explore three basic asuntos políticos (ah-SOON-tohs poh-LEE-tee-kohs), which means 'political issues'. Let's begin.

Both in Latin America and in Spain, there are three major topics that relate to asuntos políticos:

  • las formas de gobierno (lahs FOHR-mahs deh goh-bee-EHR-noh): the forms of government
  • los partidos políticos (lohs pahr-TEE-dohs poh-LEE-tee-kohs): the political parties
  • los problemas políticos (lohs proh-BLEH-mahs poh-LEE-tee-kohs): the political problems

For each of these topics, we have additional basic vocabulary.

Forms of Government

When it comes to formas de gobierno, we must differentiate between Spain and Latin America. Let's begin with vocabulary to use Spain.

Spain

  • la monarquía costitucional (lah moh-nahr-KEE-ah kohns-tee-too-see-oh-NAHL): the constitutional monarchy
  • la democracia parlamentaria (lah deh-moh-KRAH-seeah pahr-lah-mehn-TAH-reeah): the parliamentary democracy
  • el rey de España (ehl reh-ee deh ehs-PAH-nee-ah): the king of Spain
  • el presidente del gobierno (el preh-see-DEHN-teh dehl goh-bee-EHR-noh): the president of the government

Now, let's see this vocabulary in use as Dra. Carvajal explains the form of government in Spain.

  • España tiene una monarquía constitucional. Esto significa que la Constitución reconoce la importancia de la casa real y del rey de España. (Spain has a constitutional monarchy. This means that the Constitution recognizes the importance of the royal house.)

  • Sin embargo, la realeza española permanece porque históricamente, España ve en el rey un símbolo de unidad. (However, the Spanish royalty remains because historically, Spain sees in the King a symbol of union.)

  • El poder gubernamental en España lo ejerce el presidente del gobierno, quien trabaja conjuntamente con un Parlamento, ambos elegidos por voto popular. Por eso, decimos que España tiene una democracia parlamentaria. (The governmental power in Spain is exercised by the president of the government along with a Parliament, both elected through popular vote. So, we way that Spain has a parliamentary democracy.

Translation: Mariano Rajoy is the current president of the Spanish government.
spaniard

Latin America

While forms of government in Latin America vary, here are the key terms:

  • la democracia directa (lah deh-moh-KRAH-seeah dee-REHK-tah): the direct democracy
  • el gobierno republicano federal (ehl goh-bee-EHR-noh reh-poo-blee-KAH-noh feh-deh-RAHL): the federal republican government
  • el gobierno socialista (ehl goh-bee-EHR-noh soh-see-ah-LEES-tah): the socialist government

Dra. Carvajal tells us:

  • Todos los países de Latinoamérica tienen una democracia directa porque el voto popular elige los representates gubernamentales. (All countries in Latin America have a direct democracy because the popular vote elects the governmental representatives.)

  • Hay países que se dividen en secciones y por eso su gobierno se llama republicano federal como es el caso de México y Argentina. (There are countries that are divided into sections and that is why their government is called federal republican, as is the case of Mexico and Argentina.)

  • Cuba es el país latinoamericano que tiene un gobierno socialista. (Cuba is the Latin American country that has a socialist government.)

Political Parties

There are several types of political parties in Latin America and Spain. The main ones are:

  • el partido de derecha o conservador (ehl pahr-TEE-doh deh deh-REH-chah): the right party or conservative
  • el partido de izquierda (ehl pahr-TEE-doh deh ees-kee-EHR-dah): the left party
  • el partido socialista (ehl pahr-TEE-doh soh-see-ah-LEES-tah): the socialist party

Now, let's learn about Latin America:

  • En América Latina hay varios tipos de partidos políticos pero los básicos son el de derecha que es muy conservador por lo general mientras que los de izquierda tienden a una visión más liberal para cambiar las cosas. (In Latin America, there are several types of political parties but the basic ones are the right, which is very conservative in general, whereas the left tend to have a more liberal vision to change things.)

  • En países como Ecuador, Venezuela, y Bolivia, el partido socialista hoy en día habla de ejercer el socialismo del siglo XXI, que es una visión distinta al socialismo tradicional. (In countries like Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia, the socialist party nowadays talks about 21st century socialism, which is a different vision from the traditional socialism.)

Political Problems

There are several political problems in Latin America and the key words you need to discuss them are:

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