OPINION

Genuine political debate

Televised debates by candidates or representatives of the various political parties before an election, even if they be elections for the European Parliament, are no doubt a very useful institution. However, these forums of verbal combat often end up stripped of any real interest or substance because, ironically, of the suffocating limits imposed on them by the political parties themselves. Perhaps the time has finally come for the leaders of our political parties, or at least for the leaders of the two main parties, to adopt something of a freer, looser format. Within the structure of the existing setting, the debate unavoidably degenerates into parallel, self-righteous, self-congratulatory or accusatory monologues that leave the viewing public, which is also the voting public, with little of any substance. A genuine clash between the two main contenders in the coming election would have much to offer, as the two men embody the very political dilemma facing the large majority of voters.