Created in 1994 by Declan Mc Cavana, then lecturer at both Polytechnique and ENSAE, the French Debating Association tournament welcomes debaters from various universities and grandes écoles. The format of this rhetorical game was inspired by the debates at the Houses Parliament in the United Kingdom, and to some extent, by the debates at the Assemblée Nationale and its rules were inspired by an extremely popular form of debating known as World Style Debating. FDA debates involve two teams who argue a motion, alternating between “proposition” and “opposition” speakers who take turns to deliver feisty 6-minute speeches, giving spirited arguments as well as rebutting one another in the course of an event that offers more and more space for improvisation and rhetorical amusement to inspire an audience and, above all, convince the members of the jury.
When it was created the tournament involved only 4 different grandes écoles. The popularity of the tournament, whose final now takes places every year at the Hôtel de Lassay, rapidly grew, moving from 4 participating teams to 9, then 12 in 2009, 15 in 2011 and has reached the number of 19 teams today. The thought-challenging motions they have to argue range from "This House Believes that Passion is a Threat to Society", to "Democracy is Hypocrisy" or "Housewives are Desperate"!