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Review Article Open Access
In April of 2012, three candidates (Boris Johnson, Conservative; Ken Livingstone, Labour; Brian Paddick, LiberalDemocrat) participated in a debate for the office of the Mayor of London. This study applied the Functional Theory of Political Campaign Discourse to this important campaign event. In this debate, acclaims (53%) outnumbered attacks (40%) whereas defences were the least common function (7%). Attacks were only directed toward the two leading candidates and the incumbent (Johnson) was attacked much more than the leading challenger (Livingstone). The incumbent acclaimed more (64% to 46%) and attacked less (24% to 51%) than the challengers. This relationship was particularly sharp when they discussed past deeds or record in office (75% of the incumbents statements on past deeds were acclaims, 25% were attacks; the incumbents attacked much more than they acclaimed, 91% to 9%, when they discussed record in office). These candidates discussed policy (77%) more often than character (23%). These results are compared with results of other studies of political leader’s debates in the literature.
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