Created in 1994 by Declan Mc Cavana, then lecturer at both Polytechnique and ENSAE, the French Debating Association tournament continues to welcome debaters from various universities and grandes écoles. The format of this rhetorical game has taken its inspiration from the debates at the Houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom, and to some extent, from the debates at the Assemblée Nationale in Paris. Its rules were inspired by an extremely popular form of debating known as World Schools Style Debating.
FDA debates involve two teams who argue a motion, alternating between “proposition” and “opposition” speakers who take turns to deliver feisty six-minute speeches. They provide 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.
At its creation, the tournament involved only four different grandes écoles however its popularity grew rapidly, expanding quickly to nine teams, then twelve in 2009, fifteen in 2011 and has now reached an impressive20 teams that compete for a place in the final that traditionally takes place every spring at the Hôtel de Lassay at the Assemblée Nationale.
The thought-provoking motions argued each year can range from "This House Believes that Passion is a Threat to Society", to "This House Believes that Democracy is Hypocrisy" to "This House Believes that Words Are All We Have"!