The Instigator
Orwell
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
KroneckerDelta
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

Political party manifestos should be legally binding

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
KroneckerDelta
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/3/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,427 times Debate No: 29820
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (4)

 

Orwell

Pro

I will be proposing and defending a system where politicians would be forced to keep their promises. The first round is for acceptance and any terms.
KroneckerDelta

Con

I accept this challenge and thank you for the debate.
I expect Pro to do the following in Round 2:
  1. Present an enforcement mechanism to ensure politicians' promises are kept.
  2. Present evidence or reasonable arguments as to why the above enforcement system would work. Note that it would be impossible for Pro to make the claim that they actually could enforce this. Seeing as how this is not a philosophical debate, Pro must merely reasonably argue that their enforcement would be effective in deterring such behavior (not that it would completely prevent such behavior).
  3. Present arguments/evidence for why, assuming you could enforce this, that it would be beneficial to a democracy.

Con asserts that Pro has the BoP to show the above, however Con reserves the right to present a counter-case that shows that this resolution could be detrimental. If Con chooses to present such a counter-case then they would have the BoP to show a) their counter-case is plausible and b) that it is indeed detrimental.
Debate Round No. 1
Orwell

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

My proposed system for ensuring politicians keep their promises is as follows.
Party manifestos would be written not as loose promises, but instead as legal documents. Parties would agree to carry out certain actions by a set date, if elected. For example, the UK Independence Party might agree to hold a referendum on EU membership by 2016, if they won a parliamentary majority. It would be up to opposition parties to point out manifesto breaches. Of course, there might be legitimate reasons for changing policies, due to unforeseen circumstances. Alleged breaches would be examined by the Supreme Court or another judicial panel. This body would have the power to hand down punishments, such as banning senior party figures or holding by-elections in some of the offending parties constituencies.

This would clearly provide politicians with an incentive to stick to their pre-election pledges, as there would be immediate repercussions for breaking them, and so would lead to a more democratic country.
KroneckerDelta

Con

In round 1, Con asked for three specific things:
  1. Clear explanation of enforcement mechanism.
  2. Arguments for why said enforcement mechanism would be effective.
  3. Arguments for why this would be beneficial to a democracy.
Con believes that Pro has not sufficiently explained their enforcement mechanism and gave no arguments as to why it would be effective or beneficial. Seeing as how there is only 1 more round of debate, Con believes Pro has already conceded this debate since they should not present new arguments in Round 3 since Con would not have ample chance to cross examine them (although this restriction was not explicitly agreed upon).

Pro proposes a system where parties would create legal documents explaining their intentions (he refers to them as manifestos). In these manifestos, the party would outline actions they plan to take and dates by which they plan to take them. This is a fairly vague statement since Pro does not define what types of actions parties should a) agree to or b) should be held accountable for. Pro's example appears to indicate that introducing legislation constitutes an action. Con would then ask, can actions be considered to be results? For instance, if the republican party promises to repeal "Obamacare" by 2016, introduces legislation to do so, but that legislation fails to pass, then does this constitute a breach of their manifesto agreement? If this would not be considered a breach, then Con sees no benefit to such a system.

Con assumes that the purpose of Pro's resolution is so that when constituents vote, they have a guarantee that goals stated in the party's manifesto will actually happen. If a party is only required to try to achieve stated goals, then is it not possible that a party could make a very weak attempt that would almost certainly fail? Yet, in this case, by "trying", the party has abided by its manifesto. In this regard, if Pro means the manifesto should only include calls to action, then Con sees no benefit or purpose to Pro's resolution.

On the other hand, if a party's manifesto may state goals that they intend to achieve, then Con sees this as unreasonable to expect from a party in a democracy. Take again the above example. The republicans do not hold the Senate or executive branch, so even if republicans made very vigorous attempts at repealing "Obamacare", they may fail. In this case, Pro would have legal action taken against party members even though they were trying, in good faith, to represent their constituents.

Con appears to start to address the above issue by putting in a loop hole, where a court or panel would decide whether a) a failure to meet goals stated in the manifesto occurred or b) the party was justified in changing policies due to "unforeseen circumstances". First Con sees this as a concession that Pro's resolution is flawed and thus should not be implemented. Furthermore, why is a judicial panel (or the Supreme Court) qualified to make such judgements? Isn't this contrary to a democracy? If anyone should decide the party's fate, shouldn't it be the constituents? Also, what would constitute an unforeseen circumstance?

Going again, with the "Obamacare" example, what if "Obamacare" caused health insurance premiums to significantly drop? Would this constitute an unforeseen circumstance? Wouldn't this actually be an example where goals that the constituents agreed to were bad goals? If constituents agree to bad goals and Pro's resolution forces their party to achieve those bad goals, then isn't this actually detrimental to a democracy not beneficial?

Pro states two possible punishments when a breach occurs but offers no argument for why this would actually incentivize the party to not breach said goals, rather just states that it would. With this regard Pro has failed to provide BoP and thus has failed to prove that his enforcement mechanism would actually work.

Also, Pro states that the opposition party would be responsible for pointing out breaches. What motivation does the opposition party have to point out a breach? If democrats promise nationalized health care and republicans promise to keep our current system but then republicans come on board with the democrats after the election, then why would the democrats want to point out the republicans' breach of their manifesto? It doesn't serve the opposition party's best interest to point out breaches if the breach is towards something the opposition party agrees with. In fact, one could make the argument that if an opposition party did point out a breach, that this would be working against the goals that they (the opposition party) promised to their constituents and grounds for a breach of manifesto by the opposition party!

Pro completely fails to argue for why such a system would be beneficial to a democracy, instead merely states "...and so would lead to a more democratic country." Again, Pro has not met their BoP.


In summary, Pro has not clearly stated what the enforcement mechanism would be, they have not provided any proof that their enforcement mechanism would work, and they have failed to provide any proof that their resolution would be beneficial. In lieu of proof that the enforcement mechanism would work, Con has actually argued it wouldn't work. In addition, Con has provided some arguments for why Pro's resolution would actually be detrimental! Specifically, if constituents agree to terms that are bad for the country, then this resolution attempts to ensure that these bad policies go into effect. Furthermore, Con believes that constituents are not unlikely to agree to bad goals. One only needs to look at the history of the United States to see such instances: slavery, Jim Crowe, segregation, women's suffrage, prohibition, etc.
Debate Round No. 2
Orwell

Pro

My opponent's main objection seems to be that I didn't go into enough detail, so in this round I will expand on what I've already said. KroneckerDelta will then get the last word if he has any new objections. This argument is in the context of a parliamentary system, although it is mostly applicable to other systems.

By "action" I mean the attempt to pass a bill. Parties would agree to hold a "forced" vote on the issue, where they require all of their MPs to vote in favor of the bill. In the event that MPs defied party whips and voted against the bill, the manifesto would state what actions would be taken against those MPs. If the party took all of these actions, but the bill failed to pass, then they would not have breached their agreement.

As for the judicial panel, the US and other Supreme Courts already hold much greater powers, such as being able to amend the Constitution. Rather than being contrary to democracy, ordering by-elections would actually increase it, as it would ultimately be the People who decided whether to keep offending parties in power.

An "unforeseen circumstance" would be a major change in circumstances relevant to the bill. An example would be if the EU abandoned the Euro, before UKIP held a referendum on EU membership. This would be a reasonable justification for changing the policy. Naturally the exact definition would be decided by the judicial body.

The above system would be effective because parties would risk loosing parliamentary seats if they broke their agreements, which obviously would be detrimental to them.

Opposition parties would have an incentive to point out breaches because this would give them an opportunity to gain seats. As for parties agreeing with each other, while this may be the case with a few policies it rarely happens in real life.

The reason the above system would be beneficial to democracy is because it would lead to less dishonesty and backpedaling, as explained above, and so would create a more honest political system.
KroneckerDelta

Con

There are several reasons to vote Con on this topic. Con does not believe that Pro properly framed the resolution such that it should only be applied to a parliamentary system as opposed to, for instance, a presidential system like the United States. Even if this is only applied to parliamentary systems, Con feels that Pro has failed to adequately show the enforcement mechanism would work at establishing a better democracy. This is mainly because deciding whether a breach occurred is still left up to a judicial panel and not the people (even if the people get to vote if such a breach is deemed to have occurred). Most important is the lack of proof or argument that such a system is actually beneficial to a democracy--rather Pro merely stated this as fact in both round 2 and round 3. Even if voters feel the enforcement mechanism would work, Pro has failed to make a case as to why such a system would be beneficial and has failed to address Con's concerns presented in Round 2, thus essentially conceding that this system would actually be detrimental to a democratic state. The final concession alone is grounds for voting Con.

Con does not feel that Pro made it clear that this system is proposed with parliamentary systems in mind. In round 1 Pro makes the statement "...and so would lead to a more democratic country." and in round 2 makes an even more vague statement "...and so would create a more honest political system." This still leaves what might be considered "action" fairly vague. For one, all parties presumably would have to abide by their manifestos. So a minority party may not be able to present legislation and "force" a vote. I suspect that even in parliamentary systems, the rules for how legislation can be considered for a vote is fairly variable and thus one cannot just assume any party will be able to present legislation. Also requiring all party members (or majority party members) to vote the same way is actually contrary to a democracy. A party is generally not monolithic and thus different regions may want different things even from the same party. As such, this type of requirement, to force all party members to vote monolithically, would alienate some regions of the state. While Con acknowledges that this is a new argument, I feel justified since Pro presented this new requirement in round 3 (that party members would be required to vote unanimously).

Con also feels that Pro has failed to demonstrate why allowing judicial branches to determine breaches is more democratic. Whether or not voters are allowed to vote party members out is irrelevant to the fact that constituents would not have any say as to whether or not their party has breached their manifesto. Also, any power given to judicial branches is irrelevant as well to whether or not this would increase democracy (i.e. they wrongly asserted claim that SCOTUS can amend the constitution). In fact, this measure only serves to give even more power to the judicial branch.

Con still believes that the term "unforeseen circumstances" is vague. In fact, Con doesn't even see how Pro's example of the EU abandoning the Euro would be unforeseen circumstances. If UKIP wants to be independent of the EU, the Euro is only one aspect of their reasoning--surely not the only reason. This is the part of the resolution that really should have been fleshed out in much greater detail as this is the part that the judicial branches are going to have to decipher. Without further details, Con still holds that this would not increase democracy because the decision over whether a breach occurred would still be left in the hands of a judicial panel.

Finally, Pro offers no arguments as to why this is beneficial or what it would be successful in accomplishing. At best, they appear to assert that it is more likely for parties to pass legislation as they promised. Again, Con presented arguments for why this could, in fact, be detrimental to a democratic state due to the tyranny of the majority. Pro did not rebut these arguments and as such, must concede that this system would be detrimental.

In conclusion, Con has argued that the enforcement mechanism is too vague, that allowing judicial panels to decide breaches would decrease democracy, and, most importantly that this would be detrimental to a democratic state (which went unchallenged). The last point alone means the correct vote is for Con, but Con also believes they have won on the other points as well.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Deadlykris 4 years ago
Deadlykris
OrwellKroneckerDeltaTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by eastcoastsamuel 4 years ago
eastcoastsamuel
OrwellKroneckerDeltaTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
OrwellKroneckerDeltaTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro should have presented his proposed system in R1, including details on enforcement. I think "promises" would have to be clearly identified and within the power of the ruing Party to fulfill. Pro failed to set the debate up reasonably and thus made it impossible to fulfill his burden to prove it would be better than the status quo. (Con might have pointed out that the likely result would be for Parties to not promise anything, but instead speak only in generalities.)
Vote Placed by likespeace 4 years ago
likespeace
OrwellKroneckerDeltaTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro mostly lost me on the third point, "Present arguments/evidence for why, assuming you could enforce this, that it would be beneficial to a democracy." Do we want our elected leaders to do what the majority want (democracy), to do what's best they believe is best for the country (republic), or to do what they previously promised? "The reason the above system would be beneficial to democracy is because it would lead to less dishonesty and backpedaling, as explained above, and so would create a more honest political system." When a politician makes an absurd promise to get a smallish political group on their side, I'm not sure if I'm more worried that they lied or by the thought that the might keep their promise! Or, if the supreme court is leaning in one direction, I can see a president who leans in the other direction, keeping a promise that no longer jives with what's best or according to the will of the people. Pro's case unproven, I vote Con.