Presidential debates: French Style

Last spring, French presidential candidates Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy met in a single televised debate, which is excerpted below.  Would US presidential debates be more useful to voters if they were presented in the style of the French?

 

 

9 responses to “Presidential debates: French Style”

  1. thetuck1 says :

    In a sense, this ties back to the previous post on whether people should or shouldn’t vote for a candidate based on their debating skills. While there are many, many pieces to a campaign, the debates are rather crucial, because during the debates are when the voters get to see the candidates face-to-face on all the important issues, without a teleprompter to aid them. Not only do the debates serve as an important way to contrast the two presidents and highlight their strengths and weaknesses, but they are also fairly close to election day – which is now only a month away – so they stay fresh in the voters’ minds. Taking all this into account, I believe that having multiple debates, as the US does, is better than having one single debate. This way, the candidates have more to voters, and even if a candidate has one bad night, there would still be opportunity to recover, and it wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

  2. Paul1 says :

    There are two aspects of this debate that could be useful in the US Presidential debates: the table set up, and the on-set clocks. With this dining-room table style format, the two candidates are speaking directly to each other, with the moderators in between. I would hope that this would reduce the influence of the audience/crowd pleasing in the debates. This would also (hopefully) allow candidates to act more as if they were in an actual discussion, instead of a competitive public speaking event where the audience is the main target of whatever is said, instead of the opponent. The necessity for on-set clock is rather obvious after last night’s debate.

    However, the actual substance and performances in this French debate seemed nearly identical to that of last night’s Presidential debate; Hollande and Romney made the same arguments against Sarkozy and Obama, respectively. In turn, both incumbents’ counterarguments were nearly the same.

  3. AkhilP7 says :

    I think its important to have several debates because its impossible for the average American who is not particularly interested in politics to judge a candidate in just one debate. Now that is partly due to the fact that it is impossible to cover all the major topics, in both domestic policy and foreign policy, in just one night. But also, multiple debates allow the viewer to judge the consistency of the candidate and have time to check the legitimacy of the claims made by each candidate. Ideally, it would be important for the voters to see the voting records of the candidates as well as the legislations promoted by the candidates so that they can come up with their own justification, rather than basing their vote solely on debating skills/ability to memorize and apply information. But since the question is about the necessity of debates, then I would support having multiple debates rather than just one televised debate.

  4. Liz7 says :

    Watching the debate two nights ago, I was disappointed to see how the candidates almost completely ignored all prompts and questions of the moderator, and went off on their own agendas. I think this French style of debate prevents that. It puts the moderator on the same level as the candidates, so it’s much harder for them to completely dismiss what they are saying. In the American debates I got the impression there was a wall between Romney and Obama, seeing as they rarely questioned one another or responded to the moderator. I see our debates as more of a Q & A session than an actual debate. The way Sarkozy and Hollande had to respond to one another quickly I think makes it a little harder for them to just give a prepared stump speech. I believe this would be more useful to voters; when a speech is prepared it can be difficult understand and the true meaning can be artfully covered by the candidate. In an actual debate, candidates must think on their feet and have less time to censor themselves, which I think is exactly what voters need to see.

  5. Ryan Bradley says :

    It’s true that during the first US Presidential debate, the moderator was quite passive and often times found himself overpowered by the candidates. In the french debate format, I feel the debate is much more heated and informal. During the American debate, Obama was acting quite passive, lethargic even. he failed to bring up any offense regarding the “47 Percent”, or Bain Capital. Perhaps this was simply to avoid the “angry black man” persona, but in the french debate, it seems that these candidates hold nothing back; listing facts, making accusations, and calling each other liars. The environment of the french debate is much more informal than the American, the moderators actually sit between the 2 candidates, and both men are allowed to talk at the same time-often times battling for their points to be made. If it were up to me, I think the American debates would be much more effective/fun if we adopted similar policies.

  6. megweck1 says :

    I completely agree with what Lizzie has stated above. There WAS a wall between Romney and Obama; an American debate feels, to me, more like two candidates trying to one-up each other with prepared speeches in which they chuckle condescendingly at the other’s speech as though they are not really listening. The French debate is more akin to an intellectual dinner argument- yes, the candidates are outright attacking each other’s words, but the voters know that they disagree anyway, so there is no point in acting in the “detached” way of the American debates. I agree also that there should be multiple debates, because there are multiple issues. But this style of debate is ultimately fairer to the candidates and clearer to the people.

  7. Christina4 says :

    The French debate feels like a great style for entertainment but otherwise I really didn’t get any sense of the candidates policies. While it feels like each candidate is held more reponsible in the French format, the American presidential debates are more of a debate of policies/
    informercial. Not sure which is more effective but I don’t like the idea that American candidates can present falsehoods to the American people in our debates.

  8. Connor1 says :

    The debates give each candidate the opportunity to not only show the American people what they believe is the best way to lead the country in the right direction, but it also gives the viewers a sense of the type of person that each candidate is. I do not feel that the French debate style allows for this to happen because neither candidate gets a set turn to speak about the issues and it seems like in this debate, both men are spending more time defending themselves and attacking one another than laying down their plans for how they will improve the nation. Yes in the American debates there is a lot of attacking but at least the candidates are able to lay out their plan in a way that the people can digest it and decide which man they want to lead us for the next for years. In regard to the number of debates, I think that separating the debates by the topics that will be covered is much more effective because that way, you get a clear cut sense on how the candidate will handle each individual issue if elected. Also if one debate goes bad for either competitor, they have a chance for redemption the next time around, and they can play off of how things went last time and be able to adjust. With just one debate, if one guy comes to play and the other doesn’t, that could be the election.

  9. Naiyah1 says :

    I think this style of debate is a an interesting and personal way to hear the candidates opinions on various topics. However, I agree with Christina that this seems to be more geared towards entertainment. While some may argue that American debates are detached and are more like prepared speeches, I don’t really think that listening to two people attack each other is the best way to choose who you are going to vote for. Furthermore, debates are not the only, nor the most important, factor when choosing a candidate. I would rather hear the candidates talk about policies and answer consitutents’ pressing questions, rather than see them argue for no apparent reason.

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