UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: September 9, 300 AP.

Debate galvanises Utani voters

A debate on the state-owned Utani television station, Amara-Nij Utani, between the parties key to the Utani people, has been broadcast on the national television station. The debate, broadcast in Ingallish, between five parties was viewed by an estimated three million viewers and may contribute substantially to electoral gains for, primarily, the two primary Utani parties: the Utani-Sædaj and Progressive parties.

The debate-organisers allowed each debater five-plus minutes to put across the salient points of their party's message. After the initial half-hour, the MP's had questions put to them from a panel of four Utani journalists, allowing the other party delegates to voice their opinion about what was asked or said. Moderator David Atoha, of the TV station's current affairs programme "Utani Kohyohe" (trans. "Utani way of life"), had a hard time on several occasions regaining control of the debate. The debate ended after ninety minutes.

Though the debate was vigorous, it remained non-personal and was an excellent opportunity for voters to examine the real issues. During the broadcast, no party-political advertisements were permitted. The key issues revolved about development and the pace of it. All-bar-the-Yannists were pro-development, with the Utani-Sædaj least in favour, saying they did not want the peaceful way of Utani life ruined by the corporate demands of the Uta-Decashi (roughly: "White man").

James Angorit, at his street-preacher best, retorted that the USP would next complain that they had been denied progress and wealth and that the "Uta-Decashi" had stolen it from under their noses. They could not have it both ways, he said. "Either we accept some changes in our lifestyle to better ourselves, or we continue living in poverty with our Utani Kohyohe. But we cannot have it both ways." This appeared to be the most salient moment in the debate, with the parties then galvanising their positions.

Few other issues were debated with so much vigor. Debate ensued over health care - public or private; over education and the Conservative party's "voucher" system to provide competition between schools; and social security - Angorit using the occasion to push his favourite line: "We cannot expect that the hard-working but wealthy Uta-Decashi to throw money our way to keep us from poverty because we refuse to sacrifice a piece of Utani Kohyohe to make money for ourselves."

At the end, an audience of people from around Utania were asked to "vote" for whom they thought had debated best, another for the party they would vote for of the five, and had their mind been changed by the debate?

The audience gave the "best debater" to the good-natured but determined James Angorit. As many as 13% of the audience said they would vote for the absent Democrats, but the remainder voted:
25% - Utani-Sædaj;
23% - Progressive party;
17% - Peoples Party;
16% - Anti-progress Yannists; and
6% - Cruis-Democrats.

Most voters who had changed their minds in the course of the debate would now vote for Angorit's Progressive Party.

The TV show was declared a success and a follow-up will be held in two weeks, just one week before the election.

©UPA, 300 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2000. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)