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Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Wednesday, 5 May 2010 12:14 UK

Election 2010: Greens say TV debates 'a stitch-up'

Caroline Lucas
The debates had an "extraordinary influence" on voters, says Ms Lucas

The televised prime ministerial debates were a "three-party stitch up", which failed to address key policy areas, the Green Party leader has said.

Caroline Lucas, who is standing for election in Brighton Pavilion, said other voices had been "silenced" after her party and others were excluded.

Ms Lucas told the BBC the prospect of a hung parliament would be "interesting" from the Green Party's perspective.

The party is fielding more than 300 candidates in the general election.

The decision to exclude the smaller parties from the televised debates meant issues such as nuclear weapons and withdrawal from Afghanistan - both Green Party policies - were not discussed, Ms Lucas said.

She told the BBC: "What they have done is turn a two-party stitch-up into a three-party stitch-up and they have still silenced lots of voices that I believe the British public would have wanted to hear.

"A whole range of different options aren't on the table for as long as you exclude the smaller parties.

'Exciting days'

"We believe very strongly that if we have those leaders' debates again... they have got to include the smaller parties too."

Ms Lucas added that the television encounters, with their audiences in the millions, had "an extraordinary influence over the course of the campaign" and her party would "fight harder" to get a place on any future debates.

Asked about the prospect of a hung parliament, Ms Lucas said it was "interesting".

"Both in terms of perhaps increasing our chances of getting a fairer electoral system, so that people's voices are properly heard. But also of course in giving the Greens that bit more influence. So, I think these are pretty exciting days ahead," she told BBC News.

The Greens are hopeful that Ms Lucas will be able to secure their first Westminster seat, and say they are also campaigning hard in Lewisham and Deptford, and Norwich South.

The full list of candidates for Brighton Pavilion is: Leo Atreides, Independent; Nigel Carter, UK Independence Party; Ian Fyvie, Socialist Labour Party; Soraya Kara, Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality; Caroline Lucas, Green; Bernadette Millam, Liberal Democrat; Nancy Platts, Labour; Charlotte Vere, Conservative.

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