Ever feel at a loss for words in Spanish? Do you long to be able to move beyond mere pleasantries and discuss an actual topic? Have you learned all the connecting phrases and snappy answers to make your Spanish sound smooth but lack the nuts and bolts to actually connect and snap at? You should talk about voting. No, really. It’s timely (Colombia held local elections on Sunday, and the 2012 US presidential elections are just around the corner), it usually provokes impassioned discussions (where you can listen and glean lots of useful vocabulary), and, best of all, it’s easy. Many of the words you’ll want to use when talking about voting are extremely similar to their English counterparts. Others are words you probably already know. And, inevitably, there are a few you’ll just have to commit to memory. Slip these fancy words oh-so-effortlessly into your political discourse and then coyly bat your eyelashes as if to say, Who, me? Fluent?, leaving the other foreigners behind to eat your dust.
Easy You know that now is the time when several candidatos are in the middle of their campañas for the elecciones in 2012. Although there are several partidos, we generally tend to categorize them by whether they are liberal or conservador. In the US, the main parties are the Republicanos and the Demócratas. One good way for votantes to learn more about the candidates is by watching a debate. Officials must always be vigilant about the possibility of fraude electoral. If it seems that there were problems with the official count, there may be a recuento.
Más o menos Each candidate knows he or she will have one of two possible final outcomes: either ganar or ser derrotado. They know this from the moment they decide to lanzarse a la presidencia/la gobernación/la alcaldía/al senado/al congreso/al concejo. If you want to know what the public thinks of the candidates who are aspirando, you should check the latest encuestas. When it’s finally time to ir/acudir a las urnas, each voter will report to their local mesa and will be given a tarjetón where they indicate their choices and then deposit the ballot in the urna. If they are not satisfied with any of the candidates, they also have the option to votar en blanco. Hopefully there were no campañas negras/campañas de desprestigio to make the race ugly.
Ser derrotado/a–to be defeated
Lanzarse a– to launch one’s campaign for… / to decide to run for…
la presidencia— president la gobernación–governor el Senado–senator el Congreso–congressman la alcaldía–mayor el Concejo–city council
Aspirar a–to run for a position
Ir/acudir a las urnas– to go to the polls (newspaperese)
Votar en blanco–to cast a vote of “None of the above” (if this option wins more than 50% of the vote, new elections will be held)
Campaña negra/campaña de desprestigio–smear campaign, mudslinging
Blow them away After all the speeches and propaganda to gain the aval of the voters, the long contienda comes to an end on election day. After the comicios are over, everyone keeps a close eye on the news to learn the results. One boletín at a time, the TV news stations report the results according to the mesas informadas. When nearly all the votes have been escrutados, the winner can finally be declared. It’s always interesting to see how many curules each party has lost or gained. It’s also interesting to find out about the afluencia to see how many citizens decided to exercise their civic duty.
El aval–backing, support
Boletín–every new update containing the latest results
Mesas informadas–polling stations that have reported their results
Escrutar–to count votes
La curul–political seat
_______________________________________________ Non-natives, what’s your experience with these words? Had you heard them before? How have you heard them used? Where? If you’re a native Spanish speaker, anything to correct, clarify, comment on or concur with?