Debating Threats to Democracy

VotingThe WCIA is one of 14 partner organisations working on the fantastic ‘Debating Threats to Democracy’ programme.

The project will involve 1,500 young people from 15 countries in learning, through debate education methods, about the deeper causes of current threats to democracy. These threats include extremism and xenophobia, exclusion from politics, and questions about the role of political parties.

Across 14 countries, we are engaging students in discussion about common values, the need for diversity and inclusion, and the role played by democratic institutions and active citizens in protecting these values. Young people from Wales are also taking the opportunity to debate with participants from other countries – both in old and new democracies in Europe – in international debate events.

‘Debating Threats to Democracy’ is led by the International Debate Education Association (IDEA). For full information, see the project website at

Europe for Citizens        IDEA logo

What’s been happening in Wales?

The WCIA’s first project activity was to deliver a Debate Training Day for Beginners, focusing on the theme of threats to democracy. This involved 40 students from 8 schools and took place at the National Assembly for Wales on 4 July 2016.

Joyce Watson and students Carmarthen Journal
The event was attended by Joyce Watson, Assembly Member for Mid & West Wales

In August, eight students from Ysgol Dyffryn Aman (Carmarthenshire) and Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni (Caerphilly) had the exciting opportunity to visit Vilnius, Lithuania along with 150 young people from across Europe. They debated what democracy is all about, working on critical thinking and communication skills, and – of course – talked about the implications of the recent Brexit vote. The students from Cwm Rhymni produced a briefing paper on threats to democracy, which you can download here:

For full information about this event, visit 

We delivered two further Debate Training Days – this time open to both beginners and advanced debaters – in Bangor on 15 September and Cardiff on 20 September. 60 students took part, and the events encouraged discussion of democratic values as well as preparing students for the 2016 Wales Schools Debating Championships.

Training day Training day
Training day Training day

On 23 November, 70 students at the Maelor School (Wrexham) took part in a debate that reflected on some of the issues raised by the project so far, in particular the balance between free speech and tackling extremism in politics.

Maelor School Maelor School

On 1 December, the Grand Final of the 2016 Wales Schools Debating Championships takes place at the Temple of Peace, Cardiff. The main debate will be on the motion “This House supports universities having a ‘no platform’ policy for speakers with extreme views”, and surrounding the debate will be a training opportunity for students and an audience debate on democracy and free speech.

Register here!

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