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The Open Parliamentary Debate is an academic debating format suitable for tournaments that combines the sportiness of parliamentary debate and the realism of public debate. It provides space for the development and improvement of well-understood rhetoric under the conditions of productive agonality.
Unlike academic debates, it does not claim to find the truth; rather, it is about bringing controversial positions to a decision under everyday conditions of incomplete information and finite time (cf. Herrmann/Hoppmann/Mattes/Nesyba 2011).
For each debate, two teams of three compete against each other with the aim of drawing the non-attached speakers to their side (see graphic). All speakers must follow up on arguments previously made and must not contradict their own side. The positions of the teams are drawn by lot (cf. ibid.).
The President shall open the debate and give the floor to each speaker. Speaking time begins with the speaker’s first word. During the speech, he shall mark the beginning and end of the time for interposed questions with a single hammer blow. The end of the speaking time is marked with a double hammer blow. If a speaker exceeds his allotted speaking time by more than fifteen seconds, the President shall stop the speaker from exceeding his allotted time by striking the bell. If the time limits for interposed questions are exceeded, the President shall ring the bell immediately (cf. Streitkultur 2015a).
The speakers of the parliamentary groups each receive seven minutes speaking time. The first and last minute of this time is protected against interposed questions. The non-attached speakers each receive three and a half minutes of speaking time. The first minute and the last thirty seconds of their speaking time are protected against interposed questions. During the remaining speaking time, all opposing group speakers have the right to ask interposed questions (cf. ibid.).
The speech of each non-attached speaker is followed by an interjection by the opposing opening or supplementary speaker of a maximum of one minute of protected speaking time throughout. This is followed by the speech of the next Free Speaker. The interlocutory speech on the statement of the last non-attached speaker is followed by the pleas of the closing speakers of the government and the opposition. Interposed questions by the opposing parliamentary group speakers and all non-attached speakers are permitted in relation to the closing statements (cf. ibid.).
The debate is followed by an open vote on whether the audience would now answer the question in dispute with a yes or no vote. The speaker’s side with the largest increase in votes wins (cf. ibid.).
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 (cf. Herrmann/Hoppmann/Mattes/Nesyba 2011).
Herrmann, Markus; Hoppmann Michael; Leopold, Pauline; Nesyba, Thea; Mattes, Anna (2011): Kurzregeln für die Offene Parlamentarische Debatte. Tübingen. In: http://www.streitkultur.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/OPD-Kurzregeln-V09.pdf [Access on 09.10.2015].
Streitkultur a (2015): Die Tübinger Debatte. In: http://www.streitkultur.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Tübinger-Debatte-Regelflyer-2009.pdf [Access on 09.10.2015].