2010 was a busy year: four debates (three UK debates and one Australian) with Election Debates’ quoted, cited and published in Australia, the UK and US. A partnership in Nigeria to run an Election Debates’ Workshop. Plus some great new judges added to our panel and more than 15,000 visitors.
United Kingdom Debates
There was much fanfare and excitement with the inaugural UK debates. The three debates, with Conservative Leader David Cameron, Liberal-Democrat Leader Nick Clegg and Labour Leader Gordon Brown drew massive audiences.
The prevailing media view that Mr Clegg won most or all debates was not shared by the Election Debates’ expert panel which was more or less split on every debate: debate 1 analysis, debate 2 analysis, debate 3 analysis, Neill Harvey-Smith’s wrap, Ray D’Cruz’s wrap.
Election Debates’ coverage drew over 10,000 visitors during the UK debates. We were cited in publications such as The Spectator, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. And our website has been archived by the British Library as part of their 2010 general election archive.
This was the tenth successive election featuring a single leaders’ debate and most Australians seem pretty jaded by the contrived and stilted format and the constant spinning by speakers.
The prevailing media view was that Ms Gillard won a close debate. Election Debates reached a rare unanimous (7-0) verdict on the debate: a narrow win to Prime Minister Julia Gillard over Opposition Leader Tony Abbott: debate analysis. It was a dire debate though: neither speaker offered a vision, neither speaker offered much substance and neither speaker engaged with the other.
There was another debate – a meta-debate – about debates, specifically whether a second debate should take place, when it should take place, whether it should be on the economy, and whether it should last for 30 minutes or one-hour. It went on and on and we covered it here and here.
In the end there was no second debate, but another promise for a debates commission, which will hopefully be a little more effective and robust than the American Commission for Presidential Debates. Our eight principles for a new approach to Australian debates is laid out here.
Election Debates’ coverage drew over 3,000 visitors. Our debate preview (by Chris Croke and Ray D’Cruz) was published on the ABC Drum website as was our analysis of the debate. We were also cited in The Australian and the Herald-Sun and interviewed for ABC radio.
Election Debates partnered with Debate and Development Resource Center Nigeria (DEDERC) to facilitate an election debates workshop for journalists and youth leaders in Lagos in November.
The workshop was facilitated by Gabriel Aniabi, Franklin Ubi and Emeka Nwosu (DEDERC). The two-day program was designed by Ray D’Cruz, founder of Election Debates. The event was sponsored by the Commonwealth Foundation.
The mission of the workshop was to increase participant knowledge about election debates and explore the potential of leaders’ debates to improve voter knowledge and participation during the electoral process. Nigeria is due to hold national elections in 2011.
A more detailed report can be read here.
Election Debates drew no fees from its support of this program.
Our purposes are to improve the quality of election debate analysis, stimulate public discussion about election debates, educate the public and stakeholders about debates and the value of debate and develop relationships with media and debate associations. Based on what you’ve read above, it is safe to say these aims were advanced in 2010.
Thanks to our expert judges who provide their time and expertise on a volunteer basis (no one derives any financial benefit from involvement in Election Debates). This year we added to our pool Fenja Berglund (from Australia, World Universities Champion 1995), Ben Richards (Australia, World Universities Best Speaker 1994), Sam Greenland (Australia, World Universities Chair), Colm Flynn (Ireland, World Universities Member Emeritus), Andrea Sloan (Scotland, World Universities Judge) and Wayne Jocic (Australia, international tournament judge). Thanks to the current World Universities Champion Chris Croke for co-authoring one of our published articles.
Thanks to our media and debate associates, particularly Alex Massie from the Spectator, Jonathan Green from The Drum and Colm Flynn from the World Debating website.
Finally, thank you to our 15,000 visitors in 2010.
In Ireland, there will be parliamentary elections and the leaders’ debate will take place amidst the financial chaos and uncertainty gripping that country and the European Union. In New Zealand, John Key is seeking a second term having faced a series of challenges, from the financial crisis to the Christchurch earthquake to the South Island mining disaster. Both debates will be very interesting you can rely on Election Debates for expert commentary and unbiased analysis.
Happy New Year!
Ray D’Cruz, on behalf of everyone at Election Debates