It’s election day in America! Whether you voted early or are planning on casting your ballot today, we all have a say in what our government will look like over the next two years. Exchange students who are spending the year here have the unique opportunity to see democracy in action. For some perspective, we took a look at what elections are like in their home countries.
Every four years, Spanish citizens vote to elect representatives in the Senate and the Congress of Deputies. The Prime Minister is traditionally chosen from the party that holds the most seats in Congress. There are also regional and municipal elections every four years, but those dates can vary. Many regions hold their elections the May before a leap year (so the next election would be in May 2019), but others choose their own election dates and as a result their voting years vary. Separately, they also vote to send members to the European Parliament.
Chinese citizens have a chance to vote in local elections, and their votes impact how leaders of the country are chosen. Every five years, they vote for their Local People’s Congress. In turn, the Local People’s Congresses elect members of the Local People’s Government. The Local People’s Government in turn votes for members of the National People’s Congress, and the National People’s Congress is responsible for selecting the National People’s Government.
With each country having elections that are so different, it’s possible that exchange students will be a little confused watching the results come in. This is a great opportunity for them to learn about voting and elections, and also what it means to be American. Our right to vote is something that we as Americans treasure, regardless of party alliances. While hosting an exchange student involves sharing in the little things like family traditions, shared recipes, and the differences in everyday life, this is one of the few opportunities to share in something big. Getting to watch an election from a foreign country gives students an inside look at what it means to be an American.