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The real candidates may have refused, but the first "television debate" of the election campaign will take place tonight on the "Eretz Nehederet" (Wonderful Country) satirical television program. The show's producers decided to take advantage of the potential inherent in a political encounter and will hold a debate with actors playing party leaders Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu. Next week, on election day, the show will share the airwaves with actual election coverage.

The current season of Eretz Nehederet started sooner than originally planned in an effort to relate to the elections. Just eight shows were scheduled this season. The war in the south disrupted the original schedule, but the show is now expected to run for only three more episodes - this evening, election night, and a week after elections.

Tonight's program will highlight debates between the leading "candidates," but will also feature smaller parties. In addition to these segments, which will be broadcast live, there will be a routine featuring the character of an Arab waiter welcoming music critic Gal Uhovsky and singer Margalit Tzanani (also known as Margol) to his restaurant.

An additional sketch will pit the Filus family, who regularly appear on the show, against Channel 2 news commentator Amnon Abramovich. Previously this season, Labor party leader Barak and Likud MK Limor Livnat appeared on the program. This is the sixth season of Eretz Nehederet, which is considered the country's most successful entertainment and satire show. It has been broadcast since its inception in 2003 by Channel 2 franchisee Keshet.