A flourishing and functioning democracy should go hand in hand with an involved, informed and educated population.
An informed electorate is a key part of a functioning democracy. But while the foundations are solid citizenship education in schools, we can’t let it finish when students graduate. TV debates play an important role in breaking through the noise of everyday life.
At present, the teaching of citizenship differs from school to school, and between the nations of the UK. That disparity of knowledge leads to political inequality between those who know how to hold their representatives to account, and those who can’t.
We can’t expect people to participate in public life if they don’t know how it works. A vacuum in political education over the decades has led to the stagnation we see today, where placing an ‘X’ in the box every couple of years is the expected limit of our engagement.
For democracy to properly function it needs strong lines of communication between representative and represented. The TV debate is direct: an opportunity for voters to compare and judge political leaders directly and for those same leaders to make a pitch directly to the public.
Vitally, debates are a shared event for supporters of all parties, something that is becoming a rarity in the age of hyper-targeted campaigns.
More information about Informed Electorate
Our Voices Heard: Young people’s ideas for political education in Wales
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We ask young people across Wales for their ideas on how to improve political education.
Debating the TV Debates
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In the run up to the Question Time Special, ERS commissioned leading academics in the field of communications and media to look at the impact of the debates on viewers.