How presidential debates actually work: World practice and Ukraine

Author : News Agency

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine has launched an election campaign. Usually, an integral part of the election campaign is the debates
22:32, 14 February 2019

Ukraine has launched an election campaign. Usually, an integral part of the election campaign is the debates. In Ukraine, the culture of pre-election debates is not yet developed. And yet, the presidential candidates would hold the debates in Ukraine. Maybe not everyone will take part (as it happened before), however many, most likely, will take advantage of their right to debate with an opponent.

Meet 44 candidates running for president in Ukraine

On the eve of all this, let us do a closer examination of the very notion of "debates" and the world practice. Where did the debate come from and do they somehow influence the elections?

Related: Russia to send short-term election observers to Ukraine

What are the debates?

This is a structured and specially organized public exchange of thoughts between the two parties on a relevant topic. At the same time, this kind of discussion is aimed at ensuring that the debate participants convince a third party, not each other.

Simply put, the pre-election debates of presidential candidates tend to look like this:

  • Two presidential candidates and a moderator gather in a studio.
  • The moderator asks various questions.
  • The candidates respond by proving that their position is correct.
  • The viewer looks at this action and draws conclusions. Or does not (it depends on the viewer).

Where do election debates come from?

It is believed that the first election debates were held in the United States in 1858, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

Related: Elections in Lithuania: Expectations of Ukraine, the West and Russia

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas fought for one of the senator chairs. During the struggle, Lincoln summoned Douglas to take part in an open discussion on slavery. Seven American cities have witnessed the discussion.

The format of such debates did not imply strict rules and was more of a philosophical nature (that is, it was not only about statistics but also about values).

The most famous examples of election debates

The United States continued the practice of election debates; it institutionalized and later spread to the other countries.

The debates have become an influential part of the US electoral process. And here are the most vivid historical examples:

Kennedy vs. Nixon, 1960

Open source

It is believed that these debates are the first television election debates in world history.

At these 1960 debates, candidates for the US presidency John Kennedy (Democratic Party) and Richard Nixon (Republican Party) came together. During the debates, Nixon was not very self-assured. He looked nervous and was sweating profusely. Kennedy looked much better.

It is believed that thanks to the successful debates of Kennedy went ahead (though slightly) of his opponent in the vote.

Related: Elections 2019 and worsening of economic situation in Ukraine

Reagan vs. Mondale, 1984

NTB scanpix

In 1984, Republican Ronald Reagan ran for a second term. His rival from the Democratic Party was former Vice President Walter Mondale.

Reagan made a speech (compared to the debates of the ballot times for the first term) not so confidently, and after the first round of debates, he stopped being considered the favorite of the electoral race.

At the press conference after the broadcast, there was a question about his age (Reagan was already 73). "I refuse to consider the issue of age central for this campaign. Therefore, I pledge to never, for political purposes, focus on the youth and inexperience of my opponent," he answered. Such a move was appreciated by many, and Reagan’s confusion did not affect the outcome of the elections. And he won.

Related: Volker recommends Ukraine to allow Russian ODIHR observers to elections

Bush Sr. vs. Clinton vs. Perot, 1992

Open source

Attendees: current President George Bush Sr., Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, and businessman Ross Perot. Clinton looked better than Bush. And eventually won. It is believed that it is due to the debate.

Gore vs. George W. Bush, 2000

Open source

Prior to the start of the election debate between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, Gore was considered the favorite.

However, the situation has changed for the elections, including thanks to the debate. During the debate, Gore behaved arrogantly, and his rival used it in his favor, eventually winning both the debates and the elections.

Sarkozy vs Royal, 2007

Open source

These debates are called the most significant in the entire history of the presidential debate in France. This was a verbal battle between Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal in 2007.

The debate lasted for more than two hours, their audience exceeded 20 million people. In the end, Sarkozy won both the debates and the elections.

Related: Court rejects suit of Communist Party of Ukraine against Central Election Committee

The most famous debates in the history of independent Ukraine

Of course, we are talking about the 2004 debates between Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko. The November debates (although they were more similar to individual speeches) were watched by 9.5 million people.

Open source

Once again, the rivals met at the televised debates in December, on the eve of the rerun of the second round. And this meeting looked already like a real debate.

Related: Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs prevents cyber-attacks during elections

Read the original text at

Система Orphus

If you find an error, highlight the desired text and press Ctrl + Enter, to tell about it

see more