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Introduction

Politics (from Greek: πολιτικά, translit. Politiká, meaning "affairs of the cities") is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group.

It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state. The academic study focusing on just politics, which is therefore more targeted than all Political science, is sometimes referred to as Politology (not to be confused with Politicology).

In modern nation-states, people have formed political parties to represent their ideas. They agree to take the same position on many issues and agree to support the same changes to law and the same leaders.

An election is usually a competition between different parties. Some examples of political parties worldwide are: the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, the Conservatives in the United Kingdom, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Germany and the Indian National Congress in India.

Politics is a multifaceted word. It has a set of fairly specific meanings that are descriptive and nonjudgmental (such as "the art or science of government" and "political principles"), but often does carry a connotation of dishonest malpractice. The word has been used negatively for many years: the British national anthem as published in 1745 calls on God to "Confound their politics", and the phrase "play politics", for example, has been in use since at least 1853, when abolitionist Wendell Phillips declared: "We do not play politics; anti-slavery is no half-jest with us."

A variety of methods are deployed in politics, which include promoting one's own political views among people, negotiation with other political subjects, making laws, and exercising force, including warfare against adversaries. Politics is exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of traditional societies, through modern local governments, companies and institutions up to sovereign states, to the international level.

It is very often said that politics is about power. A political system is a framework which defines acceptable political methods within a given society. The history of political thought can be traced back to early antiquity, with seminal works such as Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics and the works of Confucius.

Selected article

Edward II of England

The Ordinances of 1311 were a series of regulations imposed upon King Edward II by the peerage and clergy of the Kingdom of England to restrict the power of the king. The twenty-one signatories of the Ordinances are referred to as the Lords Ordainers. English setbacks in the Scottish war, combined with perceived extortionate royal fiscal policies, set the background for the writing of the Ordinances in which the administrative prerogatives of the king were largely appropriated by a baronial council. The Ordinances reflect the Provisions of Oxford and the Provisions of Westminster from the late 1250s, but unlike the Provisions, the Ordinances featured a new concern with fiscal reform, specifically redirecting revenues from the king's household to the exchequer. Just as instrumental to their conception were other issues, particularly discontent with the king's favourite, Piers Gaveston, whom the barons subsequently banished from the realm. Edward II accepted the Ordinances only under coercion, and a long struggle for their repeal ensued that did not end until Thomas of Lancaster – the leader of the Ordainers – was executed in 1322.

Featured picture

Republican presidential ticket 1864b.jpg
Credit: Lithograph: Currier and Ives, Restoration: Lise Broer

A campaign poster from the National Union Party during the US election of 1864, showing presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln (left) and his running-mate Andrew Johnson. The Republican Party changed its name and selected Johnson, a former Democrat, to draw support from War Democrats during the Civil War.

Selected quote

Edmund Burke
Last of all he exercised his interest and his patience for eight years together at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. There is a fort of enthusiasm in all projectors, absolutely necessary for their affairs, which makes them, proof against the moil: fatiguing delays, the moil mortifying disappointments, the moll mocking insults; and, what is severer than all, the presumptuous judgments of the ignorant upon their designs. Columbus had a sufficient share of this quality[disambiguation needed]. He had every day, during this long space, to combat with every objection that want of knowledge, or that a false knowledge, could propose. Some held that the known world, which they thought was all that could be known, floated like a vast scum upon the ocean; that the ocean itself was infinite. Others, who entertained more just notions, and believed that the whole of the earth and waters composed one vast globe, drew a consequence from it as absurd as the former opinion. For they argued, that if Columbus should fail beyond a certain point, the convexity of this globe would prevent his return. As is usual in such cafes, every one abounded with objections. His whole time was spent in fruitless endeavors to enlighten ignorance, to remove prejudice, and to vanquish that obstinate incredulity, which is of all others the greatest enemy to improvement, rejecting every thing as false and absurd, which is ever little out of the track of common experience ; and it is of the more dangerous consequence, as it carries a delusive air of coolness, of temper and wisdom. With all this, he had yet greater difficulties from the interests of mankind, than from their malignity and ignorance. The expence of the undertaking, inconsiderable as this expense was, was at the bottom the chief support of the other objections, and had more weight than all the rest together. However, with an assiduity and firmness of mind, never enough to be admired and applauded, he at length overcame all difficulties; and, to his inexpreflible joy, with a fleet of three {hips, and the title and command of an admiral, set fail on the third of August, 1492, on a voyage the most daring and grand in the design, and in the event of which the world was the most concerned, of any that ever yet was undertaken.
Edmund Burke, An account of the European Settlements in America, 1757

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Selected biography

David Lewis in September 1944

David Lewis (1909–1981) was a Russian-born Canadian Rhodes Scholar, labour lawyer and social democratic politician. He was national secretary of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation from 1936 to 1950. As the United Steelworkers of America’s legal counsel in Canada, he played a central role in the creation of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1956 and in the New Democratic Party (NDP)'s formation in 1961. In 1962, he was elected as a Member of Parliament. He was the NDP's leader from 1971 to 1975. After his defeat in the 1974 Canadian election, he retired from politics. He spent his last years as a university professor and a newspaper travel correspondent. In retirement, he was named to the highest level of the Order of Canada for his political service. After a lengthy battle with cancer, he died in 1981.

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