What is it about?

Televised election debates are a useful way for the electorate to become informed about, and to compare, party manifesto pledges. These features are enhanced if the debates have some deliberative qualities. We have shown, for the first time, that the electoral system does not influence the deliberative quality of the debates, but that the presence of populists candidates lowers the deliberative quality.

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Why is it important?

Televised election debates are becoming increasingly common and are viewed by millions of voters. The quality of the debates is often derided, but we show that they do have important deliberative qualities that are affected by who the participants are. If populist candidates participate then the deliberative quality of the debates declines.

Perspectives

Televised election debates are watched by many voters. This article could help them view these debates differently and consider further whether the candidates justify their policy pledges and respect the other candidates.

Stephen Elstub
Newcastle University

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This page is a summary of: Deliberative qualities in televised election debates: the influence of the electoral system and populism, West European Politics, September 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2019.1651139.
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