Debate principles


Open and attentive discussion is the fundament of democracy.

The purpose of political discussions is to create a dialogue about Pros and Cons and to offer citizens an insight into their politicians’ incentives for choosing certain solutions rather than others.

Regrettably enough, our political culture is full of roundabout talk, self-promotion and mud-slinging. Political commentators who are supposed to put political statements and arguments into perspective engage instead in discussing how politicians’ remarks shape their popularity.

Therefore, The Alternative has phrased six principles which are conceived as benchmarks in our political discussions. The objective of these principles is to filter out the noise and to put focus on political substance. Word is action.

The six debate principles:

1. We will openly discuss both the advantages and the disadvantages of a certain argument or line of action.

In order to pursue an instructive debate, we will point out both the advantages and the disadvantages of our policy proposals. This gives citizens an opportunity to see why we think that the advantages of a certain policy outweigh its disadvantages.

2. We will listen more than we speak, and we will meet our political opponents on their own ground.

We wish to have discussions that bring us closer to a good solution. Good solutions can only be reached jointly. That’s why it is crucial that we listen to each other – especially when in disagreement. Only when we put ourselves in each other’s shoes can we debate meaningfully and constructively.

3. We will emphasize the core set of values that guide our arguments.

We will never hide behind one-off statistics or so called “economic necessities”. Politics is always about value-based prioritization and that is something we embrace, even though statistics and expert views do play an important role in illuminating facts.

4. We will acknowledge when we have no answer to a question or when we make mistakes.

Sometimes we don’t have a firm position on an issue or a clear mandate from our support base. In other instances we may simply think that further clarification is needed before we can form a well-informed position. In such cases we will communicate this clearly instead of evading the question. We would rather have clarity than roundabout talk.

5. We will be curious about each and every person with whom we are debating.

We will only take part in debates where there is room for a serious discussion. If that is not the case, we will politely turn down the invitation. On the other hand we will always display curiosity about and respect for our opponents with whom we are otherwise in disagreement.

6. We will argue openly and factually as to how The Alternative’s political vision can be realized.

We will make it clear that we don’t know all the answers and we will put forward our stances and arguments in recognition that actions outweigh words.


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