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Egypt: Time for Televised Presidential Debates?

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Elections 2011/12.

As the time approaches for the Egyptian presidential election, there have been calls not only in Egypt but also around the Arab world for televised presidential debates. During the 2005 presidential election Mubarak rebuffed calls for such debates, but now with a genuine presidential race for the first time, Egyptian voters are keen to see the kind of debates they have watched taking place in the United States and elsewhere.

On April 22, Twitter users discussed the idea of “Monazarat” (“Debates”), and called for televised presidential debates in Egypt.

Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon during the first televised U.S. presidential debate in 1960. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon during the first televised U.S. presidential debate in 1960. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Bassem Sabry introduced the campaign to demand televised presidential debates, and the Twitter hashtag to use (#Monazarat).

Safwat Safi ‏tweeted [ar]:

@Safwat_Safi: أعتقد أول مناظرة متلفزة كانت في الستينات بين كنيدي ونيكسون، من الجميل أن نرى ذلك في العالم العربي بعد 50 عاما
@Safwat_Safi: I think the first televised debate was in the sixties between Kennedy and Nixon; it's nice to see it in the Arab world 50 years later

Journalist Mohamed Abdel Kodos wrote on his blog [ar]:

أتمنى رؤية مناظرات على الهواء مباشرة بين المرشحين لمنصب رئاسة الجمهورية كما يحدث فى الدول المتقدمة، فهل ستجد تلك الأمنية طريقها إلى أرض الواقع أم تظل حلماً فى المشمش؟
I hope to see live debates between the candidates for the presidency of the republic just like in developed countries. Will that become reality, or will it simply remain a dream?

Blogger Sara Labib expressed her amazement [ar]:

@SaraLabib: دى اول مرة يبقى قدامنا اكتر من مرشح حقيقى و مش عارفين مين اللى هيكسب، خلينا نرسخ ثقافة الحوار و المناقشة و المناظرات بين المرشحين ‎‪‬‏
@SaraLabib: For the first time we have in front of us more than one real candidate, and we don't know who will win; let's strengthen the culture of dialogue, discussion and debate between candidates

Twitter user ta7riro ‏suggested some debate topics:

@khelaly: healthcare, slums, street children, cultural heritage, innovation

Writer Marwa Elnaggar criticised the presidential elections’ poster frenzy and tweeted [ar]:

@marwame: الشعارات والبوسترات مش هتقوللي حاجة عن المرشحين ولكن المناظرات هتوضح كل واحد بيفكر ازاي وبرنامجه مبني على تخطيط سليم ولا لا
@marwame: Slogans and posters won't tell me anything about the candidates, but debates will clarify what each candidate thinks and whether his programme is based on solid planning or not

Iyad Elbaghdadi joked:

@iyad_elbaghdadi: At the very least, presidential debates in #Egypt will give our stand-up comedians some new material!

Hesham Alquraini believes such debates would be highly significant [ar]:

@heshamq: لو فعلاً تمت هذه المناظرات بين مرشحي الرئاسة المصرية ستكون نقلة نوعية مهمة في التاريخ السياسي العربي يظهر للمرة الأولى ‎‪
@heshamq: If the debates between the Egyptian presidential candidates really happen, it will be an unprecedented leap in Arab political history

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Elections 2011/12.

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