AMERICAN PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE ASSOCIATION

A Guide to Parliamentary Debate: the Speeches and Their Responsibilities

Section Contents
  Prime Minister Constructive
Leader of the Opposition Constructive
Member of the Government Constructive
Member of the Opposition Constructive
Leader of the Opposition Rebuttal
Prime Minister Rebuttal

Prime Minister Constructive (PMC)
 
  1. State a clear case statement that does not violate any of the rules.
  2. Offer any further explanation or case background.
  3. Present a case consisting of arguments which support the case statement.
The first responsibility is the most important. The PMC frames the debate. Be particularly careful to give your case statement using explicit language like "We propose that..." or "Be it resolved that..." or "Our case statement is...." The case statement should be no longer than one sentence. You may define certain terms after your case statement, but the statement itself should be one sentence long.
Your case will ordinarily consist of three to five arguments that support the case statement you have made. Note that these are not arguments related to your case or about the same topic, but arguments that specifically support the case statement you have made. If the case statement, for example, is "The judge should not have found Microsoft to be a monopolistic competitor at trial," then your arguments cannot be about why Microsoft is good or how your little sister owns their stock. The judge does not take into account the moral value of the Microsoft corporation or your little sister's college tuition problems. Any arguments about such extraneous factors are a waste of time and do not prove the case statement.

Leader of the Opposition Constructive (LOC)
 
  1. State any important objections to the case or case statement, for example, claims of tightness or specific knowledge.
  2. Construct the opposition's independent arguments, including specifying whether the opposition will pursue a counter-case.
  3. Attack the government's case.
Stating any rules-based objections to the case should be done at the very beginning of LOC. The objection should be stated and explained. The LO should then proceed with the round, even if it will be difficult to make effective arguments. Once the LO has explained the objections, the matter is left to the judge to decide. Do not spend your entire speech on objections, but do fully explain any that you make. Please note that most rounds do not involve bad cases or any objections to the case statement. The LO should use these rules sparingly.
The LO should then construct an opposition based on independent arguments about the case statement. Independent arguments deal with subjects that were not brought up by the government. Responses to government arguments are generally given after all the independent analysis has been made.

Member of the Government Constructive (MG or MGC)
 
  1. Introduce any remaining new Government material.
  2. Respond to the LO's attacks.
  3. Reconstruct the Government Case.
There will often not be any new material for the MG to bring up. If there are additional points, the MG should make them at the beginning of his or her speech. The most important thing the MG does is cover all the previous arguments in the round and describe the Government’s position on each of them. This will be the last opportunity the Government has to say anything new, so make sure you do not leave any arguments un-addressed. The MG speech usually has the greatest time pressure on it, as there will be many arguments for the MG to talk about. Most debaters begin with rebutting LO independent analysis and then support the PMs arguments against the responses of the LO. This speech must be clear and organized to prevent confusion in the round.

Member of the Opposition Constructive (MO or MOC)
 
  1. Introduce any new Opposition arguments.
  2. Respond to the MG.
  3. Respond to any Government arguments that have not been responded to.
The MO is the most free-flowing speech in the round. Although there are many different effective ways to give an MO, there are two basic tasks. First, the MO has to cover the LO. If they failed to make any important Opposition arguments or missed one of the governments points, the MO must make those arguments. Second, the MO speech should give the judge clear reasons to vote for Opposition. These could be independent arguments or synthesis of the LO arguments, but good MOs often bring a new perspective to the round or attack the Government from a new angle. MOs should attack MG independent points, MG responses and the case. Powerful arguments, however, should not be deliberately saved for the MO. Debaters should not offer a weak LOC in order to pack the MO with the best arguments. This packing strategy is called MO dumping. It is poor debating and judges may count an MO dump against a team, if the judge believes that the Opposition acted unfairly to gain a tactical advantage.

Leader of the Opposition Rebuttal (LOR)
 
  1. Crystalize the round into clear Opposition voting issues.
  2. Preempt any problems due to lack of clarity or objections the Opposition has made to the case, i.e., specific knowledge, tight case, etc.
The LOR does not give new arguments. The speech serves to frame the debate from the Opposition's point of view. The LO should explain each of the reasons why the Opposition has won the round and why these reasons outweigh the arguments the government has made. This would also be the last opportunity to remind the judge briefly of any objections the LO raised about the case or the case statement. Do not dwell on the technical issues, but do remind the judge that Opposition cannot argue very well against a case that has specific knowledge or some other flaw. If the Government has dealt with an issue vaguely, point out to the judge that the Government has not made it position clear before the PMR and that the Government's exact position has not had to bare the brunt of the Opposition attack. Most LOs will point out any arguments that the MG failed to address and ask the judge to count these dropped arguments against the Government.

Prime Minister Rebuttal (PMR)
 
  1. Respond to any new MO arguments.
  2. Crystalize the round into clear Government voting issues.
Most PMs begin the rebuttal by responding to any MO arguments. Do not spend too much time dealing with these arguments unless they are very important. A good PM often incorporates these MO arguments into the organization of the rebuttal. Judges should realize that you have only five minutes and that the MO spoke for eight minutes. At least three minutes of any good rebuttal will be spent arguing the key arguments which win Government the round. Do not simply state the arguments, but demonstrate why the Government case outweighs the Opposition. PMs should also point out dropped arguments and explain their impact on the round.

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