miércoles, 4 de diciembre de 2013

Talking point: Politicians

The topic of politics and politicians is never an easy one to deal with in the English class. However, politics is sometimes another topic in the syllabus and teachers have to deal with it.

Before your talking session, go over the questions below so that ideas flow more easily and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • What are the main political parties in your country?
  • What are the differences between them?
  • What other political parties are there?
  • Who are the most famous members of those political parties?
  • Where does the Prime Minister live?
  • What does his/her job consist of?
  • How long does he hold a term of office?
  • Who is the Head of State?
  • What does his/her job consist of?
  • What different elections are held in your country?
  • What are the main problems the government in your country has to deal with?
  • Do world politics have a direct influence in your country's politics?
  • Do you think it is important to vote in elections?
  • Should voting be compulsory?
  • Why are so many people interested in becoming politicians?
  • Why are there so many scandals involving politicians?
  • Why do some celebrities get involved in politics?     
  • At least 50% of those holding public office should be women. Do you agree?
  • Would you like to be a politician?
To illustrate the topic, watch this BBC video on Uruguayan president José Mújica, who seems to be different from most other world leaders.
  • What do you think of José Mújica?
  • Are politicians in your country very different from him?
  • Would José Mújica make a good president in your country?

José Mújica is a handyman about the house. He’s not a man that enjoys a life of luxury, and most of the time is accompanied by his loyalest friend, Manuela, a three-leg dog. But José Mújica is also the president of Uruguay and has been dubbed by the international media as the poorest president in the world.

This is the house of the president of Uruguay. It is located just outside the capital of the country, Montevideo, in this rural area just next to small farmers. This is a place that contrasts so much that it is only guarded by these two police officers who are just outside the house. This is quite a contrast from the lifestyle of many world leaders.
The BBC was granted rare access to the president’s residence.
They say I’m the poor president. Not, I am not a poor president. Poor people are those who always want more, those who never have enough of anything, those are the poor because they are in a never-ending cycle and they won’t ever have enough time in their lives. I choose this austere lifestyle. I choose not to have too many belongings so I have time to live how I want to live.
In president’s Mújica latest official declaration of wealth he says he owns just two vehicles, a small amount of property and his farm house. He also donates 90% of the salary, $12,000 a month, to charity. His car is one of his most valued possessions.
I may appear to be an eccentric old man, but do allow me to express myself. When world leaders talk about sustainable development, what is that growth based on? It’s based on pushing people into mass consumption, but then you face an economic crisis like the one we see today.
Mr Mujuca was a member of the leftish Uruguayan gorilla group in the 60’s and 70’s. The legacy remained with him: six bullet wounds in his body. He also spent fourteen years in prison, mostly in isolation. He had a landslide victory for the presidency more than two years ago. After half a term in power, he is now back in a bill to legalise cannabis. So what do the Uruguayans make of his lifestyle and government record?
I don’t like the way he expresses himself in public sometimes. There are certain rules that you have to follow to be president.
For people like me, from the lower-middle class, he is at least somebody we can identify with.
Whether he is a good leader or not depends on what he does as a president, not on his austere lifestyle.
Latest opinion polls show that his approval rating has fallen below 50% for the first time since he took power. The man he defeated in the 2010 election, former president Luis Lacalle, accuses him of waste in a favourable economic climate.
If you look at the power he had, and the potential he had today halfway through Mujica’s term in office we can say that his administration has not been so good as it should have been.
But back at his farm, the president is happy to just tend to his garden and his crops, and despite his falling popularity, he says he remains true to what he believes, and hopes that perhaps one day other world leaders might follow his example.