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4 May 2002

Portuguese Report to 2002 Worlds Council

At the 2002 Worlds Council countries were invited to submit a report to the council to let other nations know about debating in their country.  It was not compulsory but a number of nations gave reports.

Portuguese Report to 2002 Worlds Council

In 1999, the Lisbon Debating Society (LDS) was the first debating society to be established in Portugal. Today it federates 5 Debating Unions from several Universities in the greater Lisbon area:

* the Law Faculty of the University of Lisbon

* the Faculty of Arts of the University of Lisbon

* the Catholic University of Portugal

* the Economics and Law Faculty of the New University of Lisbon

* the Social Sciences Faculty of the New University of Lisbon

Note: Although some debating unions are from the same university, they are not from the same faculties. Faculties operate independently within the universities. They are often located in different campuses and it is therefore far more practical for the debaters to hold their meetings at their own faculty. Therefore, the fact that 2 debating unions exist in the same university is not due to any rivalry between them, but to their organisational needs. Since all debating unions in this situation are members of the Lisbon Debating Society, they try to determine who attends competitions abroad (Europeans, worlds) so that the University rather than the debating union is represented. There have been no problems related to this issue, since all debaters acknowledge the advantages of acting as a university, particularly in terms of fundraising.

The Lisbon Debating Society also coordinates debates and competitions for local schools.

It has sent debaters to previous editions of the European Championships and attended worlds for the first time this year (a team from the Catholic University of Portugal). Coaching activities for the national world schools teams are have been conducted by university debaters from the LDS.

In the year 2000, 4 other Debating Societies have been created in other parts of the country:

- Oporto Debating Society

- Coimbra Debating Society

- Viseu Debating Society

- Debating Society of Minho

In March 2001, the National Debating Council of Portugal was established by representatives of the several societies. Its structure is pretty much similar to that of the worlds council - chosing the host for each year's National Championship and coordinating debating activities and the IV-calendar.

The institutional structure looks something like this:

NATIONAL DEBATING COUNCIL - co-operates with the ESU Portugal

a) Lisbon Debating Society:

- Law Faculty Union

- Catholic University of Portugal Debating Union

- Economics and Law Faculty of the New University of Lisbon Debating Union

- Social Sciences Faculty of the New University of Lisbon Union

- Debating Union of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Lisbon

b) Oporto Debating Society

c) Debating Society of Viseu

d) Debating Society of Minho

Although it hasn't had enough time to function as system, we anticipate that the main organisational activities (IV's, workshops, fundraising) will be conducted by the local debating societies. The role of the National Debating Council will be mainly that of coordinating the tournament calendar, organising the National Championships and picking the national world schools team. The President of the National Debating Council will also take on the responsibility of representing Portugal at the Worlds and Europeans Council.

Higher Education in Portugal

The Portuguese degree system is very similar to the continental European model. Practically all major courses are undergraduate degrees.

Some post-graduate students (masters candidates) will be involved in debating activities as of the beginning of the next school year. They are considered full-time students for all effects by the Portuguese educational system.

The problem regarding law students undergoing the Portuguese professional training course (an 18 month internship at the bar is required for all those who wish to become lawyers) does not exist: they should not be considered students.


Debating activities in Portugal started thanks to the initiative of the local British

Council and of the English Speaking Union - Portugal. In recent years debating societies have been founded throughout the country, and this year a national debating body has finally been established. Many other institutions are beginning to take part and we expect to have new 2-3 new debating unions by the end of the year 2001. School debating clubs exist as well - right now 4 of them have regular debating activities.

More information on Portuguese debating can be found at the LDS website - or by e-mailing them at The National Debating Council is currently preparing a website of its own.

If anything remains unclear, please e-mail me at

Pedro Delgado Alves

Portuguese Delegate, WUDC

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