American parliamentary style


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The American debating style is loosely based on the procedures of the British Parliament, emphasising argumentation and rhetoric rather than detailed technical and factual knowledge (cf. American Parliamentary Debate Association 2013).


Each team consists of two members and a spokesperson who ensures compliance with the rules during the rounds and addresses the judge from then on. One team stands for the government, the other for the opposition

  1. Prime Minister: Speaks twice (1st opening statement 7 minutes; 2nd rebuttal 5 minutes)
  2. Member of the government: Speaks once (speaking time 8 minutes)
  3. Leader of the Opposition: Speaks twice (1st opening statement 7 minutes; 2nd rebuttal 4 minutes)
  4. Member of the opposition: Speaks once (speaking time 8 minutes)
  5. Speaker: ensures that the rules are observed and refers to the judge
  6. Judge (cf. ibid.)

Course of the debate

In the opening statement, the government presents a motion/case which the opposition must present as incorrect. The two speakers from the government and the opposition each speak in turn (cf. ibid.). The speaker decides at the end of each round, based on the arguments made in that round, whether the government has proved its motion/case or the opposition has disproved it. The team whose arguments are more convincing wins (cf. ibid.).

New arguments can be held at any time during the first four rounds. New arguments cannot be made during rebuttal, the last two rounds. However, the Prime Minister can respond to new arguments from the opposition, so the rebuttal speech provides new answers but does not present new arguments (cf. ibid.).

Feedback and scoring

This is a means used by all debaters and the audience to point out inconsistencies, argumentative gaps, aberrations and the like to the speaker and to encourage clarification. However, this means may only take place during the first four rounds (cf. ibid.).

  1. Points of Information: These are the means used by the other side to get a speaker to define his position and arguments more precisely. The speaker can decide whether and when the demand may be made (cf. ibid.).
  2. Points of Order: Is demanded by participants when they feel that the rules have been broken. There are two ways of breaking the rules: when the speaker clearly exceeds his speaking time and when new arguments are made in the rebuttal phase (cf. ibid.).
  3. Points of Personal Privilege: Serves as a means when someone is verbally attacked and hurt on a personal level (cf. ibid.).


American Parliamentary Debate Association (2013): Guide. Rules. In: [Access on 09.10.2015].