23 Apr Losing a debate before starting
Source: El Periódico de Aquí
In the last general elections, the four-way debate was won in the networks by the candidate who was not invited. Alberto Garzón won more than 20,000 retweets when he complained about his exclusion from the face-to-face televised debate between candidates. Something similar to what is happening to VOX. Santiago Abascal showed in the only prime time television interview with Bertín Osborne that his message does not resist more than 140 characters and that his state of permanent anger does not generate empathy with the camera. He has a hard time smiling and is incapable of matching verbal and body language. Pedro Sánchez has given him the great campaign gift, perhaps knowing that, in the televised debate, Abascal had more to lose than to win, exactly the same as the acting president. Sánchez gives the right-wing extremist leader ammunition for his speech, which also means wearing Pablo Casado down.
The fact that the incumbent president did not want to expose himself publicly in a debate because he was the only one who had something to lose, nor to expose himself to confronting ideas with the rest of the candidates now that the wind of the polls blows in favor, could be valid as a campaign strategy before the intervention of the Electoral Board and its inexplicable positioning.
The curious thing is that scholars say that not even heated debates like Mariano Rajoy’s and Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba’s, in 2011, had a relevant effect among the mass of voters, and so 17% of voters decided who to vote for in the last week. The numbers are devastating. 70% of those who saw it said it did not influence them, 9% were encouraged to vote and only 1.3% changed their vote after the debate. This reality has been repeated process by process, with the only nuance that today, a week from the day of voting, almost 40% of voters do not know or do not want to say to whom they will vote, which are different things.
Fearful because he has put all the obstacles within his reach to not confront the rest of the candidates on an equal footing, or much less accept a face to face with Pablo Casado. This is a surprising decision because, although it is a recent tradition, since the first of the televised face-to-face debates was held in May 1993 between Felipe González and José María Aznar, to justify oneself in the polls in order not to accept the debate with Casado sounds like a cheap excuse, as well as refusing to go to a debate arguing the lack of VOX because of its social interest.
Nevertheless, the worst thing is the insecurity generated by the word of the acting president, since he is already committed to Antena 3 and sorted shifts and interventions with the presence of his campaign director, now he regrets it, shirks responsibilities, changes the TV station alluding to positive discrimination towards the public media and, when the nonsense seemed to reach its zenith, he counterprogrammed the date of the original debate. His credibility suffers in every speech in which he explains his position on the debate, much more than he would have suffered allowing it to take place, even its repetition in less than 24 hours in another channel, no matter how strange it might seem.
Of course, we should not be surprised by the weakness of someone capable of announcing a World Cup with headquarters in three countries, without two of them having the slightest idea that such proposal existed.
Even the Informative Council of public television believes that RTVE “should bet on impartiality and not adjust its programming to the proposal of a single political party, whatever it is”. It is a full-blown slap on the back of the neck in the manipulation of the reality in order to justify self-interest as a public interest.
What would have allowed Pablo Iglesias, Albert Rivera and Pablo Casado to scratch some vote, can now give them wings if Pedro Sánchez does not reflect and stop looking for excuses not to recognize that he has put his foot in a puddle. There are many ways to lose an election, but to be defeated by oneself would remain in the history of the national anecdotary.
Pedro “the brief” can accumulate another national Guinness record, that of losing a debate without having been presented. It is in his hand, because Tezanos, as of Tuesday, will not be able to help him anymore.
Written by José Antonio Giménez
Specialist in Political Marketing