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US election word of the week: delegate

 © PhotoDiscIn this series we are looking at some of the language and terminology associated with the US electoral process in the run-up to the Presidential election in late 2016. This week’s word is delegate.

According to Macmillan Dictionary, a delegate is simply “someone who is chosen to represent a group of other people at a meeting”. In the context of the US presidential election, however, the delegates are the few thousand individuals who will attend the Republican and Democratic  party conventions in the summer in order to select – or more commonly anoint – the man or woman who will be their candidate for the presidential race. All the caucuses and primaries, all the debates and rallies and razzmatazz have the sole purpose of selecting the representatives from each state who will fulfil this duty.

There are several different types of delegate and we will look at these in future posts. Meanwhile I will leave you with the thought that, like many political terms, delegate comes to us from Latin, from the verb delegare, from de- ‘down’ + legare ‘depute’; and indeed the delegates are deputed by the voters to represent their views at the conventions.

Look out for the next post in this series. You can find past posts on the language of American politics here and here, or search for other posts in this series using the tag US politics.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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