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Televised Debates

Carsten Reinemann and Marcus Maurer


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Televised debates have become a key feature of election campaigns in many countries around the world. Unlike regular campaign media coverage, they provide voters with the chance to directly listen to the candidates and learn about their stands on the issues and their personalities without the filter of the media's news selection. They provide much more information than campaign ads and, unlike those, give the opposing candidate the chance to counterargue. Therefore, televised debates are often regarded as an especially valuable form of campaign communication (→ Election Campaign Communication ). In many countries, televised debates reach a larger audience, generate more media coverage, and stimulate more discussion among citizens than any other single campaign event. In addition, numerous studies in several countries show that televised debates have a variety of effects. Due to their assumed importance, a large body of research has been accumulated investigating various aspects of the debates, especially in the US. However, due to differences in political systems, electoral procedures, the role of the candidates, political cultures, and the debates themselves, these findings should not be uncritically transferred to other countries (→ Political Communication Culture ). The first televised election debate took place in 1956 in the US when Adlai Stevenson and Estes Kefauver ran ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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