The Era of Political Debates

Kenyan has now been accustomed to political debates over the last general elections. However, question still remains on the relevance of such debates in the pursuit of voter persuasion.

In an online survey conducted by Familynews.Today, seeking to find out whether the debates will influence the voter’s decision of who to vote for in the upcoming general elections, 29% of respondents, stated that the debates are “a waste of time”, 43% stated “No” that the debates will not influence who they vote for, while another 29% of the respondents voted for “Yes” emphasising the outcomes of the debates might determine on who they elect to govern them.

A question arises in my mind, what is the purpose of this said debates. Is it to display a spectacle of political jeering or to address the party manifestos and the vision they have for the people? If what we witnessed with the Nairobi gubernatorial race is anything to go by, then we already have an answer?

What I have seen so far in the debates, is that the issues are downplayed at the expense of the personalities. For example, that’s one disappointment I had during the Nairobi gubernatorial debate,” Joy an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya said. She further explained that there was a lot more of the jabbing and the jesting rather than breaking down the real issues. “The time is also too short that no sooner the beginning of the answers starts, than the time is up, let’s move on,” She remarked.

Joy expressed that there was a need to think through the structure of the debate to ensure that there is value derived from the debates as there are a percentage of the undecided voters who will be following the debates to have an understanding on what the candidates have to offer and finally make a decision on how they give the “power” to.

Tonight’s debate might showcase the essence of the candidates and their manifestos or it might reveal an all too familiar old script we are used to “jeers served at its best.” Whatever the case might be, tune in tonight with an open mind to find out.

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