пятница, 19 апреля 2019 г.

Debates

Today can be my first time when I monitor presidential debates consciously. Hopefully, candidates won't move the date and time again and finally, we will have the ability to watch it. The last time I watched it on TV was in 2004 - the debates between Yushchenko and Yanukovych. At that time I was 15 and knew almost nothing about debates, their rules, and history. Thanks to the initiative of one of my colleagues, - now I know this topic a little bit better.

This guy has a huge experience in this field and organizes debate games on a regular basis every two weeks on Wednesdays. It's for free for all interested employees. Frankly speaking, I could attend only a few classes, because it mostly requires deep knowledge of history and politics and it's not my passion. But there I've got some general knowledge about debates that I'd like to share with you.

Debates have been with us since the first two people were able to communicate verbally with each other. When Zelenskiy and Poroshenko take the stage tonight, it may feel like just another debate. However, televised debates haven't always been the norm - they've only been a regular feature since 1976 in The United States. Before that year it was happening occasionally and didn't apply to all the elections. But when debate occurs it beats all ratings of a TV channel that broadcast this. It's true starting from the very first broadcasted presidential debate in 1928 in The States. That one was watched by each 3rd American. Since that time most of the most-watched broadcasts were presidential debates.
All types of debates have strict rules that every participant should follow. The debate can be not only between two persons, but it's possible to involve eight or even more people. It depends on the form of competitive debating. British parliamentary debating is one of the most popular styles in the world, that's why it was chosen for pieces of training in my company.

It involves four teams: two teams for government and two teams for the opposition. Each participant has 5 minutes for his speech. In most cases, during the game, you don't have much time for thinking, because there is no time between the speakers. Everyone has speeches in a chain: the first speech is from government, then - from the opposition, then the next guy from government and so on. After the first and before the last minute of speech the opposite team can ask for additional information from the speaker, he can accept the request or reject it.

One of the most memorable rules for me was the following. The last two participants (one from government and one from the opposition) aren't allowed to add some additional points of discussion, but can just summarize the previous thoughts. In the presidential debate, we have the same rule - last 5 minutes are picked out to summarize everything from each candidate without questions to an opponent. In fact, these two speeches should be the last thing people hear from candidates before the election. People listened to all of them and just after it should make their decision. Without this rule, each participant would have the ability to save a "killer-piece of information" to provide it in the last minute of debate when the opponent doesn't have any chance to disprove anything just because the debate is finished. Such situations shouldn't happen.

And that's why the legislatively defined the date and time of the debate: the late evening of the last Friday before the election. When the debate is finished, candidates shouldn't have enough time to add any new information, because just after this Saturday is started - the day of silence, when it is prohibited to agitate for any of candidates.

Just in case if you want to practice British parliament debates with your friends, I'd like to mention a few nice topics to discuss in such game:
  • Should homework be banned?
  • What is the best pizza topping?
  • Should prostitution be legalized in our country?
  • Should cigarettes be banned from society?
The government would say there are no positive results from smoking. There is the harm to an individual, harm to the people around him and to society. The opposition would answer that everyone can decide if they want to harm themselves. The harm of smoke to the people around can be minimized and so on.

If you'd like to learn more, join the debates club and enjoy watching today's debate!

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