Tag Archives: debate

LIVE BLOG: British leaders debate


9:57: Obviously, it’s hard to ‘keep score’ of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in a seven-way debate. Bennett seemed largely invisible and, aside from the dust-up over immigration, so was Farage, who tried to turn every other question into an opportunity to discuss the European Union and immigration.

Wood and Sturgeon had strong nights, and their attacks on Cameron often made the Labour case better than Miliband’s arguments. Sturgeon, in particular, will have benefited from airing Scottish grievances directly to a British prime minister for the first time in a leader’s debate.

Clegg tried, sometimes successfully, to position himself as a sensible moderate. He also successfully signaled that he could work with a Labour government as well as a Tory one.

Miliband was most successful, I thought, in his criticisms of Cameron’s EU policy and his plans for the NHS. But he didn’t have any clear moments where anyone could say, ‘Aha, there’s the next prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.’ He came across as a thoughtful, earnest opposition leader.

Which brings us to Cameron. He’s a skillful debater, and he knew when to attack (against Miliband), when to hold back (against Clegg), and he quite cleverly triangulated Miliband against Farage. The format clearly helped to make Cameron look ‘more like a prime minister,’ even at the expense of having to stand mutely listening to a lecture from the Scottish first minister. Nevertheless, it’s not clear why Cameron is so scared of a direct face-off against Miliband. Continue reading LIVE BLOG: British leaders debate

Feisty debate leads Abbott to ask Rudd, ‘Does this guy ever shut up?’

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 12.23.04 PM

The consensus is that prime minister Kevin Rudd, behind narrowly in the polls, had a better performance in the second leaders’ debate earlier in Brisbane, turning his underdog status as a way to poke holes in the platform of his rival, opposition leader Tony Abbott.Australia Flag Icon

At one point, Rudd harped so much about the cuts that Abbott might make as prime minister that Abbott snapped, ‘Does this guy ever shut up?’

It’s a sentiment many of Rudd’s rivals — from former Liberal/National Coalition prime minister John Howard to Labor prime minister Julia Gillard, who Rudd deposed as Labor leader only in June.

But Rudd’s tenacity resulted in at least one major concession from Abbott — that Abbott’s plan to cover the costs of a $5.5 billion paid parental leave scheme are insufficient.

Rudd parried with Abbott on the carbon tax that Rudd initially championed, Gillard ultimately enacted and Abbott hopes to repeal.  Rudd warned Abbott that the rest of the world, including the People’s Republic of China, is moving toward Australia’s carbon scheme — China launched its first experimental carbon scheme earlier this year in Shenzhen.

Rudd returned to his pledge from the first debate to introduce a bill legalizing same-sex marriage if Labor wins a third consecutive term, and Abbott reiterated his opposition to marriage equality, however gingerly — Abbott’s sister is gay:

All I can do is candidly and honestly tell people what my view is. I support the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. I know that others dispute this, because I have lots of arguments inside my own family on this subject now.

The two also bickered over asylum policy, an issue upon which Rudd and Gillard have now both made such a 180-degree turn that Labor’s policy on granting asylum to migrants who attempt to arrive in Australia by boat is now much tougher than the Howard government’s policy in the mid-2000s.

Rudd also repeatedly singled out Abbott’s record as health minister and he cheerfully alleged that Abbott cut $1 billion from public hospital budgets while in government.  Abbott denied the charges, arguing that the Howard government cut the rate of growth in spending, and he asked Rudd to stop telling fibs.

Commentators did not necessarily believe it was the kind of debate that marked a massive turning point in the campaign, though most agreed Rudd performed better than in his first debate:

In an early sign that the Labor leader needed a punchier performance than he had put in at the first debate nearly a fortnight ago, Mr Rudd capitalised first on the more flexible format of the people’s forum in Brisbane’s Broncos Leagues Club to accuse Mr Abbott of having ”ripped” $1 billion from hospital budgets and of planning further cuts. It was a charge Mr Abbott flatly denied after using his opening remarks to remind voters of Labor’s record in office.

Michael Gordon, political editor for The Age, argues that Rudd won narrowlyContinue reading Feisty debate leads Abbott to ask Rudd, ‘Does this guy ever shut up?’

Live-blogging: the final Kenyan presidential debate


While we monitor Italian election results, Kenya is hosting its second and final presidential debate in advance of the March 4 general election. kenya

The debate, which will feature all eight candidates (despite a last-minute threat by Uhuru Kenyatta not to join the debate), is set to focus on land policy, the economy and foreign policy.

Kenyatta and his chief rival, prime minister Raila Odinga, currently lead polls, with the other six candidates far behind.  Read my background on the Kenyan election here.

UPDATE: The debate is now over, and it was a fascinating three hours of debate.  The tenacity of the moderators, especially by Uduak Amimo in the first half of the debate, was particularly noteworthy, especially as she went down the row of candidates, challenging each one specifically on allegations of personal corruption and scandal in their own careers.  I’ve never quite seen anything like it, certainly not in a U.S. presidential debate.

That Kenya has hosted now, not one, but two, lengthy and robust presidential debates is a tribute to how far Kenyan democracy has come from the days of Daniel arap Moi.  Indeed, every sign indicates that all of Kenya’s political leaders have a very keen and active interest in avoiding the kind of ethnic-based political violence that followed the 2007 presidential election. If Kenya manages to make it through the election to a peaceful transfer of power, it will certainly be quite an improvement for not just Kenya, but for east Africa regionally.

It’s also a tribute to the vitality of Kenyan democracy that Kenyans were able to force Kenyatta to join this second debate after he claimed he would not participate late last week.  Although Kenyatta took plenty of heat during this debate over how much land he and his family own, there were no mentions, unlike in the first debate, of the International Criminal Court case against Kenyatta.

Ultimately, Kenyatta was viewed as having won the first debate against Odinga, and I think that he won today’s debate as well, so he was well served to show up after all, and I can understand why he’s done such a good job catching up with Odinga in the polls.

He’s a much more forceful debater and even when he’s on defense, his clarity and forceful manner stand quite in contrast to Odinga’s more defensive style.  Odinga, for whatever reason, refused on several occasions to go on the offensive against Kenyatta, most notably by excusing his land ownership by arguing Kenyatta is merely an ‘inheritor’ of the ‘original sins’ of land inequality begat at Kenya’s independence.

Speaking of land, the lengthy segment on land reform demonstrated how difficult the issue is and how difficult adjudicating land disputes will be for Kenya’s next president, even as the work of the independent National Land Commission promulgated in 2012, will continue.  Although the Commission gave the candidates an easy option to remain vague about land reform, it’s clear that no domestic issue will be more important in the next five years.

The race remains largely an Odinga-Kenyetta showdown, and polls show the race essentially tied between the two, with a runoff increasingly likely.

Among the other candidates, however, notably Mohammed Abduba Dida, Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth and James Ole Kiyiapi, it’s clear there’s a second tier of presidential aspirants who are well-informed and thoughtful on the issues of the day, who are willing to challenge both Odinga and Kenyatta, and who may well serve ably in the future in the governments of either an Odinga or Kenyatta presidency.

Continue reading Live-blogging: the final Kenyan presidential debate

LIVE BLOG: Romney, Obama spar over foreign policy in final U.S. presidential debate

Welcome to Suffragio‘s live-blog of the final of the three presidential debates between the Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, which will feature foreign policy.

Tonight, I hope to provide a world politics context in real-time to the U.S. foreign policy discussion, as well as my analysis of the world politics implications of the foreign policy objectives of each candidate.

* * * *

10:28. Not a single word about the eurozone crisis. Not much, aside from a few references to Mali, about sub-Saharan Africa.  Not much about Latin America, and not a word about Mexico, where the incoming president Enrique Peña Nieto promises quite a change from the past 12 years.  Not a word about India. Basically, 75 minutes of wrangling about Israel, Iran, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan (and maybe Russia) with a perfunctory segment on China that turned into a domestic policy pissing match.

10:25.  Speaking of apology tours, Romney is sounding incredibly defensive about Detroit and his position on the auto bailout.  Of course, Detroit is one of the most important world capitals.

10:23.  Obama is now talking more generally about the Pacific Rim. “America is a Pacific power, we are going to have a presence there.”

The opening of Burma/Myanmar to political and economic liberalization has been, quite rightly, one of the top accomplishments of the State Department under U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton.  But the Philippines and Indonesia are now gathering economic steam at a time when China and Vietnam, long showcased for their engine of economic growth, are slowing.  South Korea will elect a new president in December 2012, and North Korea is adjusting to its own leadership transition from King Jong-Il to Kim Jong Un.

10:22.  Speaking of the Republican presidential debates of the past, I am missing Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor, and Obama’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011, and his perfunctory Chinese language sentence.

10:21.  “You invested in companies that sent jobs overseas!” Obama takes the low-hanging fruit here in making a domestic point about Romney’s private equity record.

10:19.  Romney again says he will, on day one, label China a “currency manipulator.” The value of China’s currency, the remimbi, has actually appreciated a bit since 2010, but it probably has more to do with the Chinese wanting to tamp down inflation than anything the Obama administration has done (or, frankly, anything a Romney administration could do) — for the record, it’s up 8.5% since January 2009, marking a value of around $0.159.  It’s still probably overvalued, but maybe less so than it had been previously.

10:18.  “China has not played by the same rules.” But which Chinese jobs, specifically, does Romney want to bring back?

10:17.  Interestingly, Romney says the greatest threat to the United States is a nuclear-armed Iran; Obama says it is the continued threat of terrorist attacks.  I think most Americans agree with Obama here. Kenneth Waltz probably does!

10:16.  So did Schieffer really just give Obama an opportunity to discuss terrorism in the China segment, after 75 minutes of talking about terrorism, in one way or another?

10:15.  Finally, to China. Continue reading LIVE BLOG: Romney, Obama spar over foreign policy in final U.S. presidential debate

Live-blogging the U.S. presidential debate on foreign policy

A note to readers: I’ll be live-blogging tonight’s presidential debate between Democratic candidate, president Barack Obama and Republican candidate, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. 

The idea is to live-blog the debate from a world politics perspective, so I’ll be hoping to provide context, where appropriate, and analysis about U.S. relations with the rest of the world and how the two candidates’ policies on foreign affairs will affect world politics.

Will Québec solidaire break through in next Tuesday’s election?

When Québec’s major party leaders gathered a few days ago for the only multi-party debate in advance of the election for Québec’s Assemblée nationale on Sept. 4, voters saw three familiar faces: Jean Charest, leader of the Parti libéral du Québec (Liberal Party, or PLQ) and the province’s premier since 2003; Pauline Marois, leader of the sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ), and François Legault, a former PQ minister and leader of the newly-formed and more center-right Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ).

They also saw a less familiar face: Québec solidaire spokeswoman Françoise David who, along with spokesman Amir Khadir, are the two “spokespersons” for Québec solidaire, a stridently leftist, environmentalist, feminist and sovereigntist party founded in 2006 when several smaller parties merged.

David wasn’t a wholly outsized presence in that debate, but to the extent it was David’s first introduction to many Québec voters, her above-the-fray tone seemed to make a favorable impression.

David and Québec solidaire are, by far, the most leftwing and anti-neoliberal of the four parties (and party leaders) featured in last week’s debates:

  • On student fees, not only does David oppose tuition increases for students, but was the only party leader to wear a red square — the symbol of student protesters — on stage (even though Marois wore it in solidarity with students last spring and has come out strongly in opposition to tuition hikes).
  • On the environment, David has criticized Charest’s Plan Nord, designed to boost mining and other economic efforts in northern Québec, and her party is downright hostile to Québec’s asbestos industry (Québec is essentially the only main producer of asbestos in North America and Europe).
  • On sovereignty, Québec solidaire is firmly in favor of an independent Québec, in contrast to theMONDAY’S PIECE> nuanced “wait and see” approach that Marois has taken.

Continue reading Will Québec solidaire break through in next Tuesday’s election?

Live-blogging the Québec debates: Marois v. Legault

I’ll be live-blogging tonight’s debate — the third and final debate of a series of one-on-one debates — between Pauline Marois, leader of the leftist, sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ) and François Legault, leader of the newly formed, sort-of maybe center-right Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ).       

Sunday night featured a four-way debate, Monday night featured a raucous one-on-one between Marois and premier Jean Charest, the leader of the centrist, federalist Parti libéral du Québec (Liberal Party, or PLQ), and Tuesday night featured a debate between Legault and Charest.

Québec’s voters go to polls on September 4 to choose 125 members of Québec’s Assemblée nationale.

Read Suffragio’s prior coverage of the Québécois election here.

So that’s a wrap. Marois is queen of the status quo, Legault is the queen of the caribou. Oy. On to Sept. 4.

What’s striking is that they spent so little time bringing down Charest tonight. I wonder if that was a strategic mistake for both Legault and Marois, especially with today’s Forum poll showing the PLQ with a renewed 35% lead over the PQ (29%) and the CAQ (24%). In any event. Full live blog after the jump.

* * * *  Continue reading Live-blogging the Québec debates: Marois v. Legault

Live-blogging the Québec debates: Charest v. Legault

I’ll be live-blogging tonight’s hourlong debate — the second in a series of three one-on-one debates — between Québec premier Jean Charest, the leader of the centrist, federalist Parti libéral du Québec (Liberal Party, or PLQ) and François Legault, leader of the newly formed, sort-of maybe center-right Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ).

Sunday night featured a four-way debate and last night featured a raucous one-on-one between Charest and Pauline Marois, the leader of the leftist, sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ).  Tomorrow’s final debate will feature Marois and Legault, and Wednesday will bring showcase Marois and Legault.

Given Charest’s feisty, aggressive tone against Marois last night, I expect to see the same against Legault, who himself is a former PQ minister.  Legault left the PQ to form the CAQ late last year, and I would expect Charest to make the argument that Legault is a closet sovereigntist and that the CAQ has been too vague about its plans for government.  I expect you’ll also see Charest attack Legault for cuts made to Québec’s health care system — Legault once served as minister for health and social services under PQ premier Bernard Landry from 2001 to 2003.

Québec’s voters go to polls on September 4 to choose 125 members of Québec’s Assemblée nationale.

Read Suffragio’s prior coverage of the Québécois election here.

Well, it was another exciting debate and the last debate for Charest.

Charest managed to come across as a little less aggressive tonight, but perhaps a little more effective — he could point (and he did!) to Legault’s past experience in government and contrast it with the (unreliable?) positions Legault has taken as the leader of the CAQ.

Legault seemed more effective, perhaps, than he did on Sunday night, but seemed less sure throughout the night.  He’s not as good a debater as Charest.

I wonder if Legault’s strong defense of French and Bill 101 at the end of the debate will leave a bad taste in anglophone voters’ mouths — he’ll need those if the CAQ is to win the election.

All in all, I think Charest did a strong job defending his government and an even stronger job attacking the CAQ’s platform (or the slipperiness of the platform vis-a-vis Legault’s record).

Full live-blog after the jump.

* * * *  Continue reading Live-blogging the Québec debates: Charest v. Legault

Live-blogging the Québec debates: Charest v. Marois

I’ll be (hopefully — giving my French quite a test!) live-blogging tonight’s hourlong debate between Québec’s premier since 2003, Jean Charest, the leader of the centrist, federalist Parti libéral du Québec (Liberal Party, or PLQ) and Pauline Marois, the leader of the leftist, sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ). 

Last night featured a four-way debate, tomorrow will see a debate between Charest and François Legault, leader of the newly formed Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), and Wednesday will bring the final debate between Marois and Legault.  Québec’s voters go to polls on September 4 to choose 125 members of Québec’s Assemblée nationale

Read Suffragio’s prior coverage of the Québécois election here.

So that was exciting! Jean Charest, so smiley in the Sunday night debate, sneered throughout tonight’s debate.  Whether on corruption, on tuition fees, on Plan Nord, on debt, on sovereignty, Charest went on the offensive all night long in a very aggressive manner (“Madame Marois! Madame MAROIS!”).

I’m not sure that will play so well with viewers, but it’s clear there’s no love lost here and that Charest knows he’s behind, and that he’s going to have to fight back against both the PQ and the CAQ in order to win the election.

Marois looked poised and more measured, even when playing offense.  But her party still has no clear competing budget plan, and she’s still not being clear on whether she’s seek a referendum if the PQ wins in two weeks.

I’m not sure whether the debate will have changed any minds — Charest looked angry and evasive and aggressive, and Marois still has no answer when it comes to the biggest doubt voters have about her party winning office.

Tomorrow night, we’ll see Charest and Legault — if anything, Charest has been more aggressive in his attacks on Legault in the past week or so, so I think it’s very likely we’ll see the fully adversarial Charest tomorrow as well.

Full live blog below the jump.

* * * *  Continue reading Live-blogging the Québec debates: Charest v. Marois

Charest comes out swinging in first Québec debate

The party leaders of each of the four main political parties in Québec held their first debate Sunday in advance of the province’s September 4 election, with three additional one-on-one debates to follow tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday.

It’s always difficult to tell whether debates will change the dynamic of an election campaign, and it’s no different in this election.

Going into the debate, it was expected that the leader with the biggest target would be Jean Charest (pictured above, second to left), the leader of the centrist, federalist Parti libéral du Québec (Liberal Party, or PLQ) and premier of Québec since 2003.

The PLQ, according to recent polls, is struggling against the leftist, sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ), and the new sorta-center-right-ish, sorta autonomous-ish Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) is polling an increasingly strong third place — a poll released Friday night showed the PQ with 35% to just 30% for the Liberals and 25% for the CAQ.  Most ominously, the poll shows that for the first time, anglophone voters are not supporting the Liberals en masse: although the Liberals still lead among non-francophone voters with 62% to just 20% for the CAQ, that result marks a fairly staggering loss for a party that normally has a monopoly on native English speakers, which comprise 10% of the Québécois electorate.

So on Sunday night, it was thought that PQ leader Pauline Marois (pictured above, second to right) and CAQ leader François Legault (pictured above, far left), as well as spokeswoman for the far-left Québec solidaire, Françoise David (pictured above, far right) would all target Charest — on his record on tuition fees, on a damaging and ongoing corruption inquiry, on his controversial plan to develop northern Québec.

That quite didn’t happen, as Marois and Legault and David targeted one another — and an aggressive Charest went on the offensive against both Maoris and Legault.  For example, he went directly at Marois and Legault for supporting cuts in the PQ-led administration of the 1990s (Legault is a former PQ minister), he attached the PQ for its past corruption scandals and he went directly on the attack on the issue of sovereignty:

Mr. Charest charged that the PQ’s main objective will be to achieve sovereignty and hold a referendum “as quickly as possible. She has set up a committee to achieve it,” he warned.

Tonight, Charest will face off in a one-on-one debate against Marois.  Tuesday night will feature Charest and Legault, while Wednesday night will feature Marois and Legault.

The French-language La Presse‘s recap and the English-language Montréal Gazette‘s recap largely concurred: Continue reading Charest comes out swinging in first Québec debate

Hollande and Sarkozy move beyond debate: motion without movement

French presidential finalists — incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and Parti socialiste candidate François Hollande — faced off Wednesday night in what commentators are calling the most animated debate in the history of French presidential debates.

In short, Sarkozy jumped into the arena as attack dog on any number of issues — defending his record on the economy in France and in the eurozone, and going on the offensive on any number of cultural issues, such as immigration.  Hollande, in turn, gave as good as he took from Sarkozy, showing that he could rebut the president’s jabs persuasively, forcefully and calmly.

For me, the debate is crystallized by a snarky exchange over Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF managing director and Party socialiste heavyweight who, until he was charged with raping a housekeeper in New York last year, was the favorite to win the Socialist nomination and the French presidency:

“I won’t accept lessons from a political party that was enthusiastically uniting behind Dominique Strauss-Kahn,”Sarkozy said in a hard-fought debate four days before France’s election.

“I was sure you were going to bring that up,” Hollande retorted. “You put him at the head of the IMF.”

In any event, the result is a presidential race with a dynamic fairly unchanged from the pre-debate dynamic, with Hollande leading by anywhere from six to nine points in advance of Sunday’s second-round vote.  If anything, Hollande gained a little ground — by pushing back at Sarkozy, he showed he is not quite the squish everyone assumes him to be.

Ultimately, I can’t help thinking that the debate is a metaphor for the second round so far: a lot of motion, but not a lot of movement. Continue reading Hollande and Sarkozy move beyond debate: motion without movement