[EDITORIALS]Debates off to a good start

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[EDITORIALS]Debates off to a good start

People watching the televised debate of presidential candidates last night looked sincere and thrilled. The encounter was the first of three debates between the hopefuls scheduled before election day. They watched the program on the television as if they did not want to miss a word of Lee Hoi-chang, Roh Moo-hyun and Kwon Young-ghil. The sincere attitude of voters assured us that the presidential race is in full-swing. The three, who advocated separately "eradication of corrupt regimes," "liquidation of old politics" and "a country without discrimination," tried their best to win the minds of voters. They tried to distance themselves from each other by their policies and personal appeal.

The second installment in television debates, which were introduced for the 1997 presidential election, can influence the campaign situation. The debates are also regarded as an effective means to clean up election abuses, such as buying votes and mobilizing supporters by dubious means. They are also vital to promoting our elections to a process by which the policies and qualifications of the candidates are investigated. To meet expectations candidates should present their platforms, political vision and ideology clearly.

Televised debates also can tilt elections toward image competition, which give weight to gestures, facial expressions and vocabulary. The candidates should minimize such problems by maintaining the level of debate at a high standard.

The voters should judge the first debate. It is not easy to decide who was the best debater. The decision will be affected by the support the voter gives to a candidate. But voters should decide who presented his vision and policy most effectively without violating rules, who indulged most in groundless slander and propaganda and who stirred up regionalism. In order to judge voters should be equipped with a standard for evaluation, depending on whom one supports. Voters should punish candidates who rely on negative tactics. Voters should step forward to make televised debates a success.

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