In the parliamentary debate, strategy, what a cover is

Debating Club Vienna

[: en] There are debating formats of different rules and different purposes, among which parliamentary formats feature debaters speaking in teams with and against each other. The two sides speak for mutually exclusive causes: In favor (“Proposition” or “Government”) of and against (“Opposition”) the motion in question. Speakers on the same side must not contradict (“knife”) each other.
Debating Club Vienna debates in especially two formats:
1) Open Parliamentary Debate (OPD), The Open Parliamentary Debate (OPD), is a much used format on the German-speaking circuit.
2) British Parliamentary Style (BPS), British Parliamentary Style (BPS) is the format used in most international tournaments such as the European and World Championship.

British Parliamentary System (BPS) Layou


British Parliamentary Style (BPS) is the most widespread format at international debating tournaments. It is mostly exercised in English and serves as the format for the European and World Championships.

Each side features two teams with again two speakers each: First or Opening Government and Second or Closing Government and on the other side First or Opening Opposition and Second or Closing Opposition. Each speaker is given 7 minutes speaking time. All teams prepare for the debate for 15 minutes separately from each other.

The first speaker of the government side (Prime Minister) (1) explains and defines the question of the debate ("motion") and exposes how her team introduces a mechanism to solve a particular problem or with which principle her team enters the debate, and then substantiates her proposal with arguments.
The first speaker of the opposition side (Leader of the Opposition) (2) is required to refute (rebutt) the previous speaker, as are all following speakers respectively. Also, the Leader of the Opposition explains substantive arguments for why it is better to stand against what is proposed with the motion.
The second speakers of each team (Deputy Prime Minister) (3) & (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (4) rebuild and extend their team’s line of argumentation.

The second half of the debate is opened by the third speaker on the government side (Member of the Government) (5) who is expected to deliver an “extension” to the previous speeches on behalf of the Closing Government team. An extension should be a new argument for the debate, which brings the debate on a different level and changes the view with which the motion is seen. The third speaker for the opposition (Member of the Opposition) (6) is then requird to follow likewise for his side.
The two summary or “whip” speakers ’(6 & 7) job is to sum up the debate. There are not allowed to bring new argument, instead they remind the judges of the debate as it happened in the light of their own team partner’s extension. They are not expected to retell what was said, but to balance all teams ’arguments and show, on which points of clash the teams are with each other and why their team won that contention.

During the so-called “unprotected” time of a speech (2nd-6th minute) all speakers of the respective other side are given the opportunity to offer so-called “Points of Information” (POI) to the speaker holding the floor. POIs can be formulated as a short question or a statement. The speaker holding the floor may take such POIs or decline them, but it expected to accept at least one during her speech.

Each debate is watched, taken to note and assessed by several adjudicators (judges). That team comes first, which can persuade the judges, that its own arguments and thus their position in the debate is the best in terms of the motion. In case for example all four teams mainly argue about the effects on democracy of a motion (clash point: effect on democracy), that team from the government side could convince the judges by its refined analysis that accepting the motion will in fact bring about improvements for democratic processes, and in rebuttal of their opponents show that these arguments are either not fully true or not as relevant as their own ones. At competitions, the team placed first gets three points, while the team placed second gets two, the third team one and the fourth team no point. In the course of tournaments, these points are added after several preliminary rounds. The best teams continue to the knock-out rounds (“break”) or directly to the final debate.

More information on BPS is available on Wikipedia:[:de] There are debate formats with different rules and purposes, but the styles of parliamentary debate are particularly characterized by the fact that there are Are teams that compete against each other. The two sides represent mutually exclusive positions: for (“government”) and against (“opposition”) in the sense of the issue. The individual team members are not allowed to contradict each other (prohibition of stabbing in the back).
In the Debattierklub Wien two styles are mainly used:
1) Open Parliamentary Debate (OPD), most widespread in the German-speaking area.
2) British Parliamentary Style (BPS), the format used in international tournaments.


Open Parliamentary Debate (OPD) layout

Two teams of three speakers each face each other, the government and the opposition. Each of the group speakers has 7 minutes to speak. The topics are usually asked as questions such as "Should newspapers belong to the journalists who work for them?" The government's first speaker (1) presented a proposal tailored to the topic, which he explained and justified with a strong argument. It is incumbent on the opposition's first speaker (2) to criticize this motion and to put forward arguments against it.
Further arguments come from the complementary speakers [(3) & (4)]. It is particularly important to answer the previous speaker's arguments within the speech and to refute them if possible.
A special feature of the OPD is that after the complementary speaker from the opposition (4), three free speakers have their say (5-7). You will only find out about the subject at the beginning of the debate, while the group speakers had 15 minutes to prepare. The free speakers have to form an opinion in a short time during the debate, choose a side and explain this in a shortened speech (3:30 minutes). In particular, your task is to introduce new aspects into the debate.
After each free speech, the currently attacked side is given 60 seconds to respond. The two final speakers of the teams appear in reverse order [(8) & (9)]. The government, which was additionally challenged by the preparation of the application during the preparation period, is given the right to the last word in exchange.

Interruptions can be thrown in at any time during the speeches. These are intended to liven up the debate and point out the speaker's argumentative weaknesses.
The first and last minute of a speech are protected; no questions may be asked during this time. The beginning and the end of the unprotected speaking time are indicated by a blow of the hammer. Intermediate questions must not last longer than 15 seconds and are put directly to the person speaking by the opposing group or a free speaker. The speaker has 30 seconds to accept or reject the question.

All speeches are judged by several jurors according to the criteria of language ability, appearance, ability to communicate, expertise and judgment using a point system. The teams also evaluate strategy, interaction and persuasiveness. A winning team is determined on the basis of the points average.

In a tournament, ranking lists are kept for both teams and individual speakers. The teams competing in the final were able to place themselves at the top after the preliminary rounds and prevail against their opponents in the knockout rounds. In addition, the three best individual speakers will advance to the next round as free speakers.

You can find more information on Wikipedia at:


British Parliamentary System (BPS) layout

British Parliamentary Style (BPS) is the most common internationally. It is mainly played in English and is the format of the European and World Championships.

On each side, two teams with two speakers each speak against each other: the opening and closing government (opening and closing government or opening and closing proposition and opening and closing opposition). Each speaker has 7 minutes to speak. All teams prepare separately for 15 minutes before the debate.

The government's first speaker (Prime Minister) (1) explains and defines the topic and sets out the procedure, the mechanism with which her team solves a problem or the principle with which her side enters the debate, and explains her suggestion or position Arguments.
The first speaker of the opposition (Leader of the Opposition) (2), like all subsequent speakers, refutes the arguments of the previous speaker (Rebuttal) in the first part of his speech. He then sets out the principle that is fundamental to the opposition.
The second government speaker (Deputy Prime Minister) (3) and the second opposition speaker (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (4) reinforce and expand their team's line of argument.

The second half of the debate is opened by the third speaker from the government (Member of the Government) (5), who now has to provide an “extension”. The extension is supposed to be a new argument in the debate that takes the debate to a new level and changes the perspective on it.
The third speaker of the opposition (Member of the Opposition) (6) also provides such an extension.
It is now up to the two final speakers (Whip Speakers) (6 & 7) to summarize the debate. You do not bring in new arguments, but rather recall the arguments of your side and focus on the extension of your team partner. In their speeches, they should not recount the debate, but rather weight the respective arguments according to their relevance and show which points of conflict (clashes) the teams are rubbing against and why this speaks for their own side.

During the unprotected speaking time (2nd to 6th minute), all speakers have the option of providing so-called “Points of Information” (POI) to the speaker who is speaking from the other side. It is a briefly formulated question or statement that is offered to the speaker. This has the option of accepting or rejecting POIs. However, you should accept at least one POI per speech.

Each debate is followed and evaluated by several jurors. First place goes to the team that can convince the jurors that their own arguments and thus their position in the debate is the best in the sense of the motion. If, for example, all four teams argue mainly about the democratic-political impact of a motion (clash point: impact on democracy), a team from the proposition side could convince the jurors with the most sophisticated analysis of how the motion will improve the democratic processes, and in rebuttal, how the arguments of their opponents are either incorrect or less important. In a tournament, the first-placed team in the debate receives three, the second-placed two, the third one, and the fourth no point. In tournaments, the team points are added up after several preliminary rounds. The best teams then go into the knockout rounds (“break”) or into the finals.

You can find more information on Wikipedia at: [:]