Major ready for televised British election debates
March 16, 1997
Web posted at: 3:00 p.m. EST (2000 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) -- British Prime Minister John Major,
trailing badly in the polls with only weeks to go until
Britain's general election, will accept a challenge from
Labor leader Tony Blair to a series of televised debates,
his political allies said Sunday.
Labor welcomed the move, but smaller parties, including the
third-placed Liberal Democrats, said they would fight in the
courts any plan to pit the leaders of the two main parties
against each other while shutting out the rest. Britain has
tight rules which broadcasters must follower to ensure
political balance during the campaign.
Televised head-to-head debates between leading candidates are
common in U.S. presidential elections but have not been tried
previously in Britain, where parties run their campaigns
mainly through public rallies and party political broadcasts.
Some British newspapers are predicting Major will announce
Monday that the elections will be held May 1.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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