A debate is an act of communication that consists of the direct confrontation of two or more people around any matter or object.


A debate can take place anywhere, from a bar counter or a family meal to on a television set. It consists of the confrontation between two or more people on a certain issue, it may be political or not, in order to make the other, or the spectators, understand that the position defended is the correct one.

Although the debates can be about any subject, they have an increasing weight in everyday discussions. On television, there has also been an increase in them, practically all the major television and radio networks reserve a space for these to happen.

Furthermore, in electoral campaign contexts, debates between candidates, or components of candidates for representative positions, are more than frequent.

Electoral debate

Since this is the most popular type of debate, the format, purpose and rules of an electoral debate are shown below.


The format of the debates usually varies according to the country in which we are not found, it depends on the party and government system and the media. But in general, we find the following: among all those who dispute the electoral race or between the two majority. To the latter, journalists who question each of the parties can be added, we can also find a moderator or more.

Given this wide variety in the format of the debate, one or more of them can occur throughout the same campaign. We are going to see as an example of this the debates in Spain during the campaign for the presidency of the government in November 2019.

  • Day 4N: Debate between all the candidates with two moderators.
  • Day 7N: Debate among the heavyweight women of the party with a moderator.
  • During the weeks leading up to the elections, several candidates faced two journalists separately with the presence of a moderator.


Discussions have various objectives, but they do not always fulfill them satisfactorily. One of them is agenda setting. That is, introduce topics on which you want to be discussed and enter the public debate. Another would be to inform the electorate. Sometimes these objectives are not met for different reasons, if the campaign is already mature enough, public opinion has already received all the information it had to receive. In addition, studies show that precisely the most informed voters are those who watch the debates, therefore, this double objective is not always fulfilled.

The vast majority of viewers do not keep the information from the debates, but instead focus on images or points that are sufficiently relevant and characteristic that they make a dent in the voter’s retina. Example would be displaying a graphic element or a personal attack. That is why the role of the media and social networks is so important. To create opinion and enhance those points in which the voter has been stronger or has been imposed on it. A viewer does not remember if a candidate won or did not win in a certain area, but if the press says it and sees it repeated several times on social networks, they can get the message.

Rules of debate

Negotiating the rules that govern the debate is a key aspect. As we have seen, the storyline and what you want to express is not so vital, it penalizes a failure or aspects that we do not have controlled much more.

Some of the many things that are negotiated are:

  • The topics to be discussed.
  • How they will be grouped.
  • The conditions of the set, such as the temperature, whether it will be done standing or sitting, etc.
  • The interpellations between the candidates.
  • The order of intervention.
  • The opening and closing (time and order).