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Global parliamentary report (eGov 2012)

  1. 1. global parliamentary Better parliaments,stronger democracies. report The changing nature of parliamentary representation Inter-Parliamentary Union ❙ United Nations Development Programme
  2. 2. Lead author: Greg PowerAssistant to the lead author: Rebecca A. Shoot Translation: Sega Ndoye (French), Peritos Traductores, S.C. (Spanish), Houria Qissi (Arabic)Cover design and layout: Kimberly Koserowski, First Kiss Creative LLCPrinting: Phoenix Design Aid A/SSales: United Nations PublicationsPhoto credits: Cover Illustration: James Smith, pg. 9: UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran, pg. 24: UK Parliamentcopyright, pg. 42: UNDP/Afghanistan, pg. 58: Fabián Rivadeneyra, pg. 72: Assemblée nationale 2012April 2012Copyright © UNDP and IPUAll rights reservedPrinted in DenmarkSales No.: E.11.III.B.19ISBN: 978-92-1-126317-6 (UNDP)ISBN: 978-92-9142-532-7 (IPU)eISBN: 978-92-1-054990-5Inter-Parliamentary Union United Nations Development Programme5 chemin du Pommier Democratic Governance GroupCH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex Bureau for Development PolicyGeneva, Switzerland 304 East 45th Street, 10th FloorTelephone: +41 22 919 41 50 New York, NY, 10017, USAFax: +41 22 919 41 60 Telephone: +1 (212) 906 5000E-mail: Fax: +1 (212) 906 www.undp.orgThis publication results from the partnership between UNDP and IPU. The views expressed herein do notnecessarily represent those of the United Nations, UNDP or IPU.
  3. 3. Better parliaments,stronger democracies. global parliamentary report The changing nature of parliamentary representation Inter-Parliamentary Union ❙ United Nations Development Programme April 2012
  4. 4. advisory board■■ Mr. Hafnaoui Amrani, Secretary General of the Algerian Council of the Nation■■ Mr. Josep Dallerès Codina, former Speaker of the Andorran General Council■■ Mr. Pierre Cornillon, Honorary Secretary General of the IPU■■ Mr. François Duluc, Head of the Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Unit, French National Assembly■■ Ms. Frene Ginwala, former Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of South Africa■■ Mr. Scott Hubli, Director of Governance Programs, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI)■■ Ms. Marija Lugarić, former member of the Croatian Parliament■■ Mr. Robert Myttenaere, Honorary Secretary General of the Belgian House of Representatives■■ Mr. Mathurin Nago, President of the National Assembly of Benin■■ Mr. Rick Stapenhurst, former member of the World Bank Institute■■ Mr. Andrés Zaldivar, Senator and former Speaker of the Senate of ChileAbout the Lead AuthorGreg Power is a Director of social purpose company Global Partners & Associates (GPA), and a parliamentaryspecialist who has worked on projects to support the development of legislative institutions and political partiesin the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.  He has published widely on parliamentary and party development,most recently these have included The Challenges of Political Programming: International Assistance to Parties andParliaments (2011, International IDEA), and The Politics of Parliamentary Strengthening: Understanding Incentivesand Institutional Behaviour in Parliamentary Support (WFD/GPA, 2011).  He has provided strategic advice, analysisand programme evaluation for a variety of agencies including DANIDA, FCO, WFD and International IDEA.  Between2001 and 2005 he was special adviser to Rt Hon Robin Cook MP and then Rt Hon Peter Hain MP, as Leaders of theUnited Kingdom House of Commons on issues of parliamentary reform and wider democratic renewal.  Prior to thishe was Director of the Parliament and Government Programme at the Hansard Society.  He is a Visiting Fellow at HullUniversity’s Centre for Legislative Studies.
  5. 5. acknowledgementsThe first Global Parliamentary Report was jointly ■■ 663 parliamentarians who participated in thecommissioned by the United Nations Development survey for the report.Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union(IPU). UNDP and IPU would like to express sincere thanks The following people kindly participated in the officialto the hundreds of parliamentarians, parliamentary peer review on the draft report: Hafnaoui Amrani, Marcstaff and parliamentary development practitioners who Bosc, Pierre Cornillon, Josep Dallères Codina, Franklinshared their expertise during the preparation of the DeVrieze, Scott Hubli, Niall Johnston, Hassan Krayem,report. Particular thanks go to Advisory Board whose Peter Lilienfeld, Robert Myttenaere, Mathurin Nago,valuable input guided the development of the report. Omar Ndoye, Sonia Palmieri, Leonard Preyra, Karin Riedl,We also recognize the important contribution made by Rick Stapenhurst, Andres Zaldivar. Additional feedbackUNDP country offices and the Association of Secretaries on the draft was provided by Tim Baker, Sonia Escudero,General of Parliament throughout the process. Frank Feulner, Jeff Griffith, Gabriella Ilonszki, Ntoitha M’Mithiaru, Marcia Monge, Charmaine Rodrigues andUNDP and the IPU express their gratitude to the lead Ali Sawi. The following parliaments also commented onauthor of the report, Mr. Greg Power, and to Ms. RebeccaShoot, who provided extensive assistance to him during the draft, with support from the Association of Secre-the research and drafting of the report. The authors wish taries General of Parliament: Canada, Estonia, Finland,to acknowledge the generous support of Lord Norton Germany, Hungary, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Romania,of Louth and Cristina Leston-Bandeira at Hull Univer- Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe.sity’s Centre for Legislative Studies, and assistance of The report was made possible by funding from IPU, theJoel Barkan, Mark Baskin, Rob Clements, Ruth Fox, ChrisHenshaw, Andrew Mandelbaum and Janet Seaton. Swedish International Development Agency, Nether- lands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of BelgiumRegional background papers for the report were contrib- (Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade anduted by Alexander Hamilton (Africa), Eduardo Núñez Vargas Development Cooperation), French Ministry of Foreign(Central America), Fatima Anastasia and Magna Inácio (Latin Affairs and Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation.America), Ali Sawi (Arab States), Niall Johnston and ShahnazKarim (Asia), Gabriella Ilonszki (Central and Eastern Europe), This report was initiated and completed under the direc-Tim Baker (Central and Eastern Europe) and Quinton Clem- tion of Ms. Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, UNDP Democraticents, David Hegarty and Robert Nakamura (Pacific). Governance Group Practice Director, and Mr. Anders B. Johnsson, IPU Secretary General. Both organizations areWe are deeply indebted to the: grateful for their effective support to Kevin Deveaux,■■ 73 parliaments that provided written Cédric Jurgensen, Franklin De Vrieze, Diane Sheinberg, contributions, listed in the References; Sofi Halling, Olivier Pierre-Louveaux, Sandra Macharia,■■ 129 parliaments that provided data for the Annex, Marilyn Cham and Steven Van-Wichelen at UNDP, and recognized at the end of the report; Martin Chungong, Andy Richardson, Hiroko Yamaguchi,■■ 69 parliamentarians who gave detailed interviews Agustina Novillo, Sung Jae Lee, Laurence Marzal, Karin to the authors; Riedl and other staff at the IPU. Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation
  6. 6. acronyms and abbreviationsAFLI Africa Leadership InstituteANC African National CongressCDC Constituency development committeesCDF Constituency development fundsCSO Civil society organizationGNI Gross national incomeIDEA International Institute for Democracy and Electoral AssistanceICT Information and communication technologyIPD Institute for Parliamentary Democracy (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)IPU Inter-Parliamentary UnionLAMP Legislative Assistance to Members of Parliament programmeLDC Least Developed CountriesMP Member of ParliamentMTU Mobile Training UnitsNDI National Democratic Institute for International AffairsNGO Non-governmental organizationOECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and DevelopmentPAC Public accounts committeePCS Parliamentary call systemPILDAT Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and TransparencyPMO Parliamentary monitoring organizationPPP Purchasing Power ParityPR Proportional representationSTV Single Transferable VoteTLC Thematic legislative communitiesUNDP United Nations Development ProgrammeUSAID United States Agency for International DevelopmentWBI World Bank InstituteChapter Title
  7. 7. contentsFOREWORD.....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................2EXECUTIVE SUMMARY........................................................................................................................................................................................................................4CHAPTER I People and parliament...................................................................................................................................................................................................................9CHAPTER II Information and influence........................................................................................................................................................................................................24CHAPTER III Responsiveness and accountability..................................................................................................................................................................................42CHAPTER IV Service and delivery......................................................................................................................................................................................................................58CONCLUSION Parliamentary reform – Resilience and renewal......................................................................................................................................................72REFERENCES...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................80ANNEX Basic data on the world’s parliaments.............................................................................................................................................................................88 Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation 1
  8. 8. foreword: undp Parliaments are the indispensable institutions of representative democracies around the world. Whatever their coun- try-specific rules, their role remains the same: to represent the people and ensure that public policy is informed by the citizens on whose lives they impact. Effective parliaments shape policies and laws which respond to the needs of citizens, and support sustainable and equitable development. For parliaments to be truly representative, elections must be free and fair. Citizens must have access to information about parliamentary proceedings, legislation, and policy, and be able to engage in continual dialogue with parliamentarians. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) are proud to present this first ever Global Parliamentary Report. It focuses on the relationship between parliaments and citizens. The report is the result of extensive research, drawing on interviews with parliamentarians, and on inputs provided by parlia- ments. The report’s findings highlight the diversity of parliamentary systems, reflecting countries’ different historical and political contexts. UNDP is grateful to all the parliamentarians, parliamentary staff, experts, and other individuals who supported the research process. While the report cannot provide an exhaustive review of all the ways in which parliaments connect with citizens world- wide, it does offer a broad assessment of current practices, innovative practices, and some of the main drivers of change expected to affect parliaments in the foreseeable future. It offers politicians, experts, and citizens information on what has been effective in different parts of the world, without promoting a specific parliamentary system. While the political context of each country is unique, parliaments do face common challenges, including how best to consult citizens and keep them informed about parliamentary deliberations. We hope that this report will stimulate debate on how to perform these functions well, and inspire reform in law-making and oversight through enhanced exchanges with citizens. Representative and effective parliaments can help advance inclusive and sustainable human development, and so improve people’s lives. This report is dedicated to all parliamentarians, policymakers, and individuals who strive to do that through their work. Helen Clark Administrator United Nations Development Programme2
  9. 9. foreword: ipuParliament is unique. It is made up of men and women who have been elected to represent the people. They adoptlaws and hold the government to account. Parliament is therefore the central institution of democracy and consti-tutes an expression of the very sovereignty of each nation.Parliament is a political institution. It is a place for political, and often confrontational, debate. But it is also a place where,at the end of the day, national policies are forged and conflicts in society are resolved through dialogue and compromise.Parliament is a complex institution. It functions at different levels and many actors influence what it does. Membersof parliament, the Speaker and leadership, political parties and groups, Secretaries General, clerks and administra-tion all play a part in shaping its work.No two parliaments are the same. They differ in form, role and functioning. They are shaped by the history and culture ofeach individual country. Yet they all share the same ambition: to give people a voice in the management of public affairs.Parliament is the business of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The IPU brings together almost all parliaments in theworld and devotes time, energy and resources to study the parliamentary institution. It develops principles andcriteria for democratic parliaments and tools to assess their performance. It builds capacity in parliaments andhelps them to strengthen and modernize the institution.This first ever Global Parliamentary Report constitutes the next logical step in IPU’s quest to bring greater focus, aware-ness and debate around the parliamentary institution. It focuses on major challenges that they face in today’s world.The Report is a joint endeavour of the IPU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It draws inspi-ration from the contributions of many parliaments, parliamentarians, researchers and experts. The IPU is gratefulto all of them for their enthusiastic help and support in producing this publication.The Report turns the spotlight on the pivotal relationship between people and parliament. It analyses changes in citizens’expectations of parliament. It shows how parliaments are responding to those changes. It sets out issues to be surmountedand gives parliamentarians, policy-makers and citizens fresh ideas about how parliament can function more effectively.Parliament is a time-honoured institution. Many parliaments can trace their roots back to several centuries past. Allparliaments need to keep in tune with the times. And that is what this report is all about - helping to place parlia-ments firmly in the 21st century.Anders B. JohnssonSecretary GeneralInter-Parliamentary Union Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation 3
  10. 10. executive summary The focus of this first Global Parliamentary Report is the Parliaments provide a link between the concerns of the evolving relationship between citizens and parliaments.1 people and those that govern. The existence of a public The intention is to analyse how citizens’ expectations are forum to articulate citizens’ concerns is a prerequisite changing, and how parliaments, politicians and parlia- for the legitimacy of government. A global opinion mentary staff are responding. poll in 2008 found that 85 percent of people believed that the ‘will of the people should be the basis of the There are three dominant pressures facing parliaments. authority of government’.2 Each is playing itself out in different ways and at differ- ent speeds in specific countries and regions. But there are The events of the Arab Spring since the beginning common themes in the greater public desire for: of 2011 reinforce the central role of parliaments in the quest for greater political voice and democ- ■■ information and influence in parliamentary work racy. In countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, the role ■■ accountability and responsiveness to public concerns and powers of the parliament have been pivotal in the discussions about the shape of the post-revolution ■■ service and delivery to meet citizens’ needs state. Similarly, in countries such as Yemen, Jordan and The report uses the experience of institutions and indi- Oman, the promise of genuine legislative and oversight vidual politicians to illustrate the challenges and the powers for the parliament are key reforms in response variety of initiatives aimed at enhancing parliamentary to public demands. Parliaments are a key element in, representation in different parts of the world. It aims to and a symbol of, the creation of a representative state. help parliaments and politicians understand the pres- Public pressure on parliaments is greater than ever sures better, identify some of the tensions that they need before. The growth in the size of government has to manage and provide examples of good practice which increased the responsibilities of parliaments to scruti- might offer insight, inspiration or emulation. nize and call to account. The development of commu- In 2012 parliaments are more prevalent than ever nication technology and saturation media coverage of before. 190 of 193 countries now have some form of politics has increased the visibility of parliaments and functioning parliament, accounting for over 46,000 politicians. The expansion in the number of parliaments representatives. The existence of a parliament is not around the globe has been accompanied by increased synonymous with democracy, but democracy cannot public expectations of what they can and should deliver. exist without a parliament. Although varying hugely In many parts of the world there are fundamental in power, influence and function, almost every political questions about the effectiveness of parliaments in system now has some form of representative assembly. holding government to account. The representative role of political parties – central to parliamentary func- 1 NB: Throughout the report, we use the term ‘parliament’ tioning – is, in many countries, weak and poorly rooted in as a generic label to cover the range of legislative and representative bodies that exist throughout the world. We society. With the flourishing of civil society and new forms recognize, though, that the term obscures a huge variety of bodies that differ significantly from one another in their roles, make-up, power and function. 2 World Public, 2008.4
  11. 11. of participatory democracy, citizens have many routes to of clear, identifiable objectives against which to judgerepresentation and redress. Where parliaments were once such programmes remains a continuing problem.the single most important way to articulate public concern,now they are competing with a variety of alternatives. Many parliaments have established mechanisms for public consultation - primarily driven by their profes-Yet parliaments have never been more vital. Parlia- sional staff and administrative service (invariably with thements remain the only bodies that exist specifically to backing of politicians). But, the implications of greatercollate and articulate the interests of the nation as a consultation are overtly political. While the organizationwhole. There are strategic roles that parliaments alone of a consultation exercise may be administrative, thecan perform, such as making and repealing laws, and impact of that consultation and how far it influences poli-calling government to account. The challenge facing cy is ultimately a decision for politicians.parliaments in all parts of the world is one of contin-ual evolution, ensuring that they respond strategi- The danger for many parliaments is that the promisecally and effectively to changing public demands for of greater influence heightens public expectations.representation. Failure to meet these expectations undermines faith in the parliamentary process. In short, the promise of greater influence must result in greater influence.Analysis 2. Politicians are obliged to account publicly for1. Genuine public influence over the parliamenta- their actions more regularly and routinely.ry deliberations is limited. The promise of greaterinfluence must result in greater influence. Chapter III examines how public pressures for more accountability are manifesting themselves in theChapter II examines the wide range of initiatives being representative role of a parliamentarian. Debatesemployed by parliamentary institutions to improve about the ‘proper’ representative role of the MP goinformation, understanding, and engagement with back centuries, but there are few definitive answersthe public. These measures tend to fall into two broad and little agreement among either politicians or citi-categories, and seek to: zens. Being an elected politician remains one of the few professions for which there is no job description,■■ provide more information and improve public and there are few guides as to whom, how or what a understanding of parliament politician should represent.■■ consult and involve the public more in the work of parliament That political freedom to decide representative styles has been seen as a strength, reflecting flexibility andParliaments are using increasingly inventive techniques responsiveness, and a dangerous source of publicto provide more access and information, from Open Days uncertainty about political roles. The report identifiesand Visitors’ Centres to parliamentary broadcasting and three separate trends, whose collective impact is gradu-websites. And they are finding an audience - demand and ally restricting the traditionally broad parliamentarysupply appear to be increasing exponentially. Yet, there, to date, little sense of how much such strategies haveimproved the public perception of parliament, enhanced a) The role of political parties is changing in manyunderstanding or improved legislative outcomes. regions of the world. Through parliamentary groups, political parties are the organizing blocs around whichEven where parliaments seek to assess their effective- parliamentary activity is built. Parties’ effectiveness large-ness, the problems they are trying to address (public ly determines the effectiveness of any parliament. Inunderstanding, trust and perceptions of parliament) democracies old and new, parties are increasingly seenhave multiple causes. A parliamentary strategy is as impediments to effective representation, rather thanlikely to have only a partial effect and separating the facilitators of it. The challenge for parties and politiciansimpact of a successful outreach strategy from all other is to demonstrate that they are responsive to public atti-possible causes is difficult. Nevertheless, the absence tudes yet retain enough cohesion to offer the collective Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation 5
  12. 12. executive summary representation on which parliaments are based. Find- also offer opportunities, provided that parliaments ing that balance between public responsiveness and recognize their potential to engage the public. party coherence continues to elude many parliaments. 3. Constituency service is an accepted and expect- b) A number of institutional changes are limiting ed part of the job and appears to be growing in the scope within which politicians can operate. volume, content and complexity Reforms tend to fall into three broad categories, which aim to: Chapter IV looks at the growth of constituency service, and public expectations of what politicians should ■■ limit the length of the parliamentary mandate, deliver for citizens and their local area. Constituency either by preventing re-election or making service is now seen as central to ideas of parliamen- politicians subject to public votes of confidence, tary representation by the public and politicians. The or recall challenge for parliaments and politicians is to respond ■■ remove potential conflicts of interest by strategically to public expectations in a way that rein- confining extra-parliamentary activities, forces their role in finding collective solutions to citi- particularly outside earnings, and identifying zens’ concerns. incompatibilities with public office Constituency service covers a huge range of poten- ■■ introduce codes of conduct, which aim to tial activity, but can be broadly grouped into four set standards for parliamentary behaviour and categories: further regulate the behaviour of MPs ■■ support to individuals, which ranges from The motive behind such initiatives is to make MPs helping to find work or opportunities, to more more accountable to those who elect them. In many clientelistic patterns of behaviour designed to cases, they are popular responses to issues of low buy support political trust. It is perhaps inevitable that they tend to ■■ grievance-chasing, in which citizens have a involve either greater regulation of, or restrictions on, particular problem with a government service, what MPs do. Although MPs are accountable to the welfare entitlement or bureaucracy, with the MP public at elections, the tenor of these reforms suggests acting as an influential friend to help resolve such that the electorate increasingly regards the ballot box problems as an insufficient mechanism of control. ■■ policy responsiveness, in which voters try to c) The desire for greater public accountability from seek or to influence an MP’s opinion on particular politicians is driving the growth of a new breed issues, especially votes in parliament of parliamentary monitoring organization (PMO). ■■ project work, in which politicians seek funds for PMOs exist to monitor and often to rate the perfor- the development of the area or the promotion of mance of MPs inside and outside parliament. More local economy, with MPs using their position to than 191 such organizations exist worldwide, moni- secure government funding. toring the activities of over 80 national parliaments. Their emergence and growth suggest that the public Voter expectations of constituency service appear to welcomes the existence of intermediary organizations differ in developing countries and more affluent states. that can decipher, summarize and assess their political In the former, the expectation is that MPs will provide representatives. materially for their voters and act as the principal development agents for the area, whereas in the latter, This drive toward more openness, transparency and citizens tend to want MPs to intercede in grievances independent external validation cuts across many of and, sometimes, to find government funds for the local the traditional ideas about political representation. area. These representative roles have developed in Many politicians are wary of such developments, direct response to the needs of citizens; several politi- particularly the public commentary role being played cians commented that they felt obliged to make provi- by PMOs. PMOs undoubtedly present challenges, but sion because people had no one else to turn to.6
  13. 13. Public demand for constituency service is though only ■■ the individual to the collective: finding responsespart of the equation. Supply has also increased for two that benefit a number of people rather thanmain reasons: individuals ■■ the local to the national: finding ways of bringing■■ Politicians enjoy the work. Numerous MPs constituency expertise into the parliamentary suggested that it was the one area where they could have a tangible and positive effect on and policy process much more systematically. people’s lives.■■ It has a perceived electoral benefit. Although Conclusions evidence is patchy, MPs believe that it can generate a sizeable vote. Polls around the world Parliaments’ resilience reflects their ability to suggest that voters are much more likely to judge adapt and evolve to public expectations. Parliamen- MPs on their ability to deliver at the local level tary change tends to be haphazard and unpredictable, rather than on legislation or oversight. the result of political negotiation and compromise. In many cases, the ability to implement the necessaryIn response to the increasing volumes of work – and changes is hampered by a lack of co-ordination, strat-pressure from MPs – the official resources devoted to egy and organization. Rather, change has tended tosupporting these efforts are increasing. Most obvious- happen in an ad hoc fashion, as a series of disparately, the number of countries with constituency devel- measures rather than guided by a set of overarch-opment funds (CDFs) has increased dramatically in ing objectives. This may be inevitable. The nature ofthe last decade, providing a locally administered pool parliamentary institutions may make it impossible toof money designed to support the community and devise and implement an all-encompassing strategy.promote economic development. However, parliaments need a much more strategicIn many ways, CDFs are an obvious response to local need analysis of the causes and sources of pressure forand often specifically seek to empower the MP in that change. Although many parliaments believe theyrole. However, here as elsewhere, the obvious response are doing as much as they can to improve their orga-may not necessarily be the best in the long run. Concerns nization and consult with citizens, their responses toexist about the financial accountability and effectiveness public expectations are sometimes constrained byof such funds, about whether they simply reinforce exist- gaps in their own analysis of the factors driving patronage networks and encourage corruption and A fuller analysis is likely to give parliaments a muchabout whether they make MPs into executive decision- better understanding of the causes and consequenc-makers, and thus detract from their parliamentary roles es of public opinion. Perhaps more importantly, itin law-making and oversight. would provide a realistic assessment of what is achiev-Parliaments and individual MPs need to develop able from within parliament, identify where externalmuch more strategic responses to the growth of support is needed and establish a measure againstconstituency service. Given the level of public expec- which success could be judged.tation and the attachment to the role amongst poli- Parliamentary efforts to improve the relationshipticians, constituency service will not disappear. It is, with voters need to be based on an understand-and will remain, an essential element of parliamentary ing of how the role of the individual represen-representation. But it needs to be done better, and in a tative is changing. The MP is the single mostway that reinforces the central roles of parliament. The important point of contact with parliament for thechallenge for parliamentary systems around the world vast majority of voters. The way that the MP’s role isis not simply to provide more resources, but to channelconstituency work by moving from: perceived by the public will do much to determine public attitudes toward parliament and politicians.■■ the specific to the strategic: finding policy Institutional reforms will, in turn and often inadver- solutions to common problems rather than tently, reinforce or shape that perception. A more dealing with each case on its own strategic analysis is needed to harness some of the Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation 7
  14. 14. executive summary pressures for change into reforms that reinforce the links with the public. The relationship between roles of parliamentary representatives and of parlia- parliaments and citizens can hardly be as direct ment itself in the public mind. and straightforward as it should be in theory. There are now a host of mediating bodies that Strategic responses could take many forms, but, from summarize and interpret parliamentary activity, this report, three specific challenges stand out: broadcast parliamentary proceedings and rate the performance of individual MPs. In short, ■■ Reforms need to reinforce the role of the process of parliamentary representation is the representative and improve public more complex and intertwined with outside understanding of what MPs do, inside and organizations than ever before. Such organizations outside parliament. For example, the provision are potential allies in reinforcing the central roles of greater resources to MPs for constituency of parliament and drawing the attention of a much work may simply increase public expectations of wider audience to parliament. what MPs will do locally. Demand may constantly outstrip supply unless the additional resources Compared with 50 years ago, parliaments are, gener- are accompanied by a strategic change in the ally, more open and accessible, more professionally- approach to the work. Responses should seek run, better-resourced and more representative. This to shape how constituency work is done in is crucial for democracy. But citizens are, rightly, more order to reduce the burden and influence public demanding of those institutions and expect higher understanding of the MP’s representative role. standards of probity, accountability and conduct than ■■ Reforms designed to improve public ever before in the institutions’ history. Although opinion understanding and political accountability polls suggest that people have ambiguous views about need to ensure that they strengthen the role of parliaments, the volume of correspondence, contact parliament rather than undermine it. Successive and requests for help is increasing rather than decreas- reforms have worked gradually to restrict the ing. There are many roles that parliament alone can scope of the parliamentary mandate, often for very perform and individuals seem to recognize the signifi- good reasons, and usually in response to public cance of the institution. Parliaments are more vital than pressure. However, the challenge is to balance ever before to the process of political representation. calls for greater accountability with ensuring that This resilience is partly due to the fact that parliaments MPs have enough scope to reflect, deliberate have continued to evolve and adapt. The landscape in and decide in the national interest. The public which they operate is now more complex and faster expectation is that MPs should account more moving than ever before. The challenge is to keep up regularly for their activity, but MPs are elected with the public by displaying responsiveness and resil- to act on behalf of voters and reforms need to ience and continually renew that relationship with citi- reinforce that sense of delegated authority. zens. This will be a permanent process of evolution, but ■■ Parliaments need to collaborate more fully the signs are that most parliaments are alive to the size with external organizations to strengthen of the task.8
  15. 15. chapter IPEOPLE AND PARLIAMENTS1.1 The Evolving Relationship around the globe appears to have been accompanied Between People and Parliaments by increased public expectations of what they can and should deliver. In addition, in many parts of the world,The focus of this first Global Parliamentary Report is there are fundamental questions about the effective-the evolving relationship between citizens and parlia- ness of parliaments in holding government to account.ments.3 Its intention is to highlight the main charac- The representative role of political parties – central toteristics of that relationship, how citizens’ expectations parliamentary functioning – is, in many countries, weakare changing, and how parliaments, politicians and and poorly rooted in society. And through new tech-parliamentary staff are responding. Public pressure on nologies and forms of participatory democracy, citizenssuch institutions at the beginning of the 21st century have many routes to representation and redress. Whereappears to be greater than ever before. The growth parliaments were once the single most important wayin government has increased the responsibilities of in which to articulate public concern, now they areparliaments to scrutinize and call to account. Commu- competing with a variety of alternatives. The challengenication technology and saturation media coverage of for the development of parliaments around the world ispolitics have increased the visibility of parliaments and to understand the nature of these changes, determinepoliticians. The expansion in the number of parliaments what they mean for parliamentary representation and identify ways of adapting to what seems to be an ever-3 NB: Throughout the report, we use the term ‘parliament’ quickening pace of change. as a generic label to cover the range of legislative and representative bodies that exist throughout the world. We Each of these pressures is playing itself out in differ- recognize, however, that the term obscures a huge variety of bodies that differ significantly from one another in ent ways and at different speeds in specific countries terms of their roles, make-up, power and function. and regions. The report does not claim to provide a Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation 9
  16. 16. chapter i definitive assessment of the state of parliaments, but 1.1.1. The Quest for Voice: The Popularity of rather uses the experience of institutions and indi- Parliamentary Representation vidual politicians to illustrate the challenges and the variety of initiatives aimed at enhancing parliamen- During the second half of the 20th century, the number tary representation in different parts of the world. of parliaments increased dramatically throughout the Subsequent chapters rely on the analysis, examples world. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and stories from politicians and parliamentary staff (IPU), 190 of 193 countries now have some form of to highlight some of the challenges that these insti- functioning parliamentary institution, accounting for tutions are facing in reaching out to and engaging over 46,000 representatives. However, in the Econo- the public. In particular, we focus on the innovations mist Intelligence Unit’s most recent assessment, only and reforms that parliaments have implemented and around 45 percent of the world’s countries qualify as the ways in which public expectations have shaped ‘full’ or ‘flawed’ democracies, with another 20 percent described as ‘hybrid’ regimes.5 In other words, the pres- their activity and that of individual MPs. Much of the ence of a parliamentary institution is not synonymous content is therefore deliberately anecdotal, but we with democracy and suggests that these parliaments hope the examples illustrate much wider points about vary in significance according to political context. Yet the performance and position of parliamentary bodies. their presence appears to be essential to the idea of a Although they differ, all parliaments exist to provide state’s legitimacy and its ability to represent the public a link between the government and the people. It is interest. In all of these contexts, the institutions provide the quality of this link with citizens that is central to the link between the concerns of the populace and the report and to how parliaments are responding to those that govern. Parliaments vary hugely in terms of the needs of an ever more demanding society. The their power, influence and function, but the existence report argues that parliaments need to understand of a public forum to articulate those concerns appears the pressures better in order to develop more strategic to be a prerequisite for the legitimacy of government. responses to the challenges they face. It seeks to iden- tify some of the tensions that they need to manage and offer examples of good practice that might offer insight or inspiration or provide the basis for emula- 190 of 193 countries now tion. In this way, this report develops the analysis of have some form of functioning the criteria for democratic parliaments – to be repre- parliamentary institution, sentative, transparent, accessible, accountable and accounting for over 46,000 effective – set out in the 2006 publication Parliament and democracy in the twenty-first century.4 representatives. This first chapter examines the way in which parlia- ments have evolved from traditional gatherings to today’s institutions and highlights the main issues Today’s parliaments have their roots in a variety of facing that continuing evolution. It assesses public contexts, reflecting the tendency of all societies to create attitudes to parliaments and suggests that these insti- bodies to discuss, deliberate and represent the interests tutions face continuing challenges in convincing the of the people. Such gatherings can be found in every public of their efficacy and their ability to perform society, from the majlis throughout the Arab world to distinct roles. It concludes by arguing that, despite the panchayat in India. Across Africa, tribal gatherings increased alternative opportunities for representation, took a variety in forms and roles and, in Afghanistan, the parliaments are performing roles that are more vital jirgas were used to resolve conflict and act as a channel today than at any time in their history. of wider communication. This desire to gather, talk and 4 Inter-Parliamentary Union 2006: 10-11 5 Economist Intelligence Unit 2011.10 People and Parliaments
  17. 17. represent is reflected in the institutional names. Around 1.1.2. Institutional Structures:a quarter of such bodies use the term ‘parliament’, deriv- Form Following Functioning from the French parler, to speak, either as a genericdesignation for parliament or as the name of one of its Although every society reflects the central role of represen-chambers. Terminology indicating ‘gathering’ or ‘assem- tation as an organizing principle, the structures of today’sbly’ is also prevalent, with over 40 percent of legislatures parliamentary institutions have their roots in the Euro-using variants such as congress, Diet (Japan), Knesset pean parliaments of the medieval era. The eight or nine(Israel), Skupstina in several Balkan countries, or Majlis in centuries since that first incarnation have bred a Darwinianmany Arabic legislatures. In the Nordic tradition, Riksda- diversity of institutions – all with the same common rootsgen (e.g., Finland, Sweden) can be translated as ‘meeting and undoubtedly of the same species, but with obviousof the realm’ and Icelandic Althingi, Danish Folketinget distinctions that set them apart from one another.and the Norwegian Storting as ‘people’s gathering’ or‘gathering of all’. The Icelandic Athingi, considered by many to be the first national parliament, dates from 930 CE, when itA 2008 global poll emphasized the importance attached first served as a forum for local leaders to meet. Theto representation as a governing worldwide principle, British House of Commons (originally ‘communes’) hasfinding that 85 percent of people believed that the ‘will its origins in the 13th century, when its principal roleof the people should be the basis of the authority of was to bring together nobles to discuss the state of thegovernment’ and 84 percent felt that government lead- realm and approve the supply of money to the kingers should be elected by universal suffrage.6 from local communities.7 The institutions that devel- oped across Europe in time bore three similar traits, namely: first, providing or withholding consent for the monarch; second, representing various communities 85 percent of people believe that within the nation; and third, using the power of the the ‘will of the people should purse to bargain with the monarch and petition for the redress of individuals’ grievances. be the basis of the authority of government’ and 84 percent feel Such institutions were exported to various parts of that government leaders should be the world through the colonial powers of Europe. elected by universal suffrage. The transformation of the medieval institution into a democratic one began in the USA in the 17th and 18th centuries. The founding fathers who built assemblies in each of the 13 colonies had sought to distinguish themselves from the British experience and, by theIf such sentiments needed reinforcing, the events of the time of independence, were operating state legisla-Arab Spring at the beginning of 2011 highlighted the tures that existed separately from the executive andcentrality of representative parliaments to the quest were, to varying degrees, asserting their own law-for political voice and greater democracy. In countries making powers. In time, this pattern of institutionalsuch as Egypt and Tunisia, the role and powers of the development would have a significant effect on howparliament are pivotal in discussions about the shape institutions developed in Central and South America,of the post-revolution state. Similarly, in countries such predominantly along the congressional Yemen, Jordan and Oman, the promise of genuinelegislative and oversight powers for the parliament are In Europe, by contrast, the parliaments evolved along-key reforms designed to respond to public demands. side government, with powers that were particularlyIn short, parliaments appear to be both a symbol of, defined in relation to the monarch. The result was oftenand a key element in, the creation of a representative a complex fusion of executive and legislative powersstate. within the parliamentary institution, where political6 World Public 2008. 7 Norton 2005:16-7. Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation 11
  18. 18. chapter I power was gradually linked with the development of started as purely consultative bodies began to assert political parties following the expansion of the fran- their legislative powers and increasingly played a role in chise. This model informed the development of repre- the governance of their countries. And as they became sentative institutions throughout the empires of the increasingly institutionalized, their members developed European nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. ways of using their existing power to accrete additional roles and greater authority. This, in turn, has affected their This historical legacy is still being felt in every corner of composition, powers, functions and rules of procedure. the world, in parliaments of all ages. The evolution of the parliaments in the ex-communist states of Eastern Although they may all share the same common root, at Europe in the 1990s, for example, was an amalgam of the start of the 21st century, the parliamentary species their own long history (for example, Poland’s parlia- is both ubiquitous and extremely diverse in size, ment enjoyed significant powers until the end of the powers and function. For example, China’s National 18th century) and the Soviet institutional legacy, but People’s Congress, with 3,000 members, is the world’s was also strongly influenced by the German model, at largest, followed by the United Kingdom’s Parliament, that time a relatively recent and local example of tran- with over 1,400 members in both houses. The ratio of sition from dictatorship to democracy. population to representative also varies. At one end is India with 1.5 million people per parliamentarian, the The parliaments of Africa and the Indian subconti- United States with around 590,000, and Bangladesh at nent were (and to some extent still are) shaped by the 470,000. At the other extreme, the parliament of Tuva- colonial legacy. The British practice of establishing a lu has a mere 15 members of parliament (MPs), each legislative council in its colonies of the time was not representing around 667 people, and in San Marino, intended to give legislative power, but rather to create there is one MP per 517 people. an appointed body that would provide a feedback mechanism for the British administration. Although In terms of power and influence, the parliamentary the Kenyan Legislative Council was established in 1906, species incorporates purely advisory bodies, such as the first Kenyan African delegate was not appointed Saudi Arabia’s Majlis A’Shura, which was established in until 1944. Yet institutions like these provided the 1993 as a wholly-appointed consultative institution basis from which parliamentary bodies developed with little or no legislative or oversight power, exists after independence in various African states. Although effectively to advise the monarch, and can be dissolved some former British colonies adopted presidential at any point. It includes Soviet-style systems, such as systems, they also created Westminster-style parlia- the National Assembly of Viet Nam, which meets in mentary systems, which used first-past-the-post elec- plenary for only two one-month sessions per year and tions, limited parliamentary influence over policy and where authority, legislation and personnel predomi- the budget and possessed a weak committee system.8 nantly derive from the Communist Party. Elsewhere, The parliaments of Australia, Canada and New Zealand it has thrown up unique features. For example, in the were likewise shaped by their colonial legacy and their Mexican Congress, members can serve only one term achievement of responsible government served as and cannot be re-elected, immediately curtailing the models elsewhere in the world. The tradition of the institution’s capacity. At the other end of the spectrum, centralized state meant that colonial legislative bodies it includes bodies such as the German Bundestag or the were less well-developed in Francophone Africa and American Congress, which, because of their formidable non-existent in Lusophone Africa; but again, following capacity and power, are the focus of those nations’ polit- independence, those states borrowed from the prac- ical lives. The US also has by far the biggest parliamen- tice of the French, Belgian and Portuguese traditions. tary budget ($5.12 billion), followed by those of Japan The traditional roles of these institutions have evolved ($1.71 billion) and France ($1.17 billion).9 and developed over time in response to the demands of the societies they exist to represent. Parliaments that 9 NB: If calculated in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars, the three largest budgets are those of the US ($5.12 billion), Nigerian ($2.04 billion) and Japanese ($1.35 8 Barkan 2009:9-12. billion) parliaments.12 People and Parliaments
  19. 19. In a report of this length, it is not possible to provide puts it, are “puzzlingly unpopular”.10 Their proliferation 70a detailed or exhaustive analysis of this huge vari- has taken place at a time when the traditional roles of 60ety or provide a definitive assessment of the state of parliaments have never faced a wider set of challenges 50parliaments globally (we hope that such detail will in securing public legitimacy and competing with an 40be provided by subsequent Global Parliamentary array of new and more direct forms of representation. 30Reports). Rather, the report is built around the central Survey figures compiled by the International Institute 20theme of how the relationship between parliaments for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) subse- 10and citizens is changing and evolving. quently reproduced in the IPU’s publication Parliament 0 Afrique Nouvelle Asie de Amérique Union and democracyEurope in the twenty-firstlatine lEst century showed européenne that, in various regions of the world, parliaments were Armée Parti politique less trusted than other institutions of government. The representation of people Police Parlement Justice and their interests is the basis of all parliamentary systems. Trust in National Institutions: Regional Averages Parliaments generally provide 70 a forum for the articulation of 60 public opinion […]. 50 40 30 20The representation of people and their interests is 10the basis of all parliamentary systems. Parliaments 0 Africa New East Asia Latin Europeangenerally provide a forum for the articulation of public Europe America Unionopinion, a transmission mechanism for feedback to Army Police Courts Party Parliamentthe executive on public policy and a means by whichgovernment can explain and communicate its actions. Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union (2006), Parliament andThey are thus the single most important representative democracy in the twenty-first century: A guide to good practice, p. 110.institution in government and thus derive a large partof their legitimacy from the public’s faith in their abil- However, the figures mask huge variation within andity to perform certain key functions. The next section between regions. In the established democracies ofexamines public attitudes to parliaments in different Europe and North America, support for the national legisla-parts of the world and the challenges of continually tive body has been waning for some time. Within the Euro-evolving and adapting to public expectations. pean Union, trust in parliaments now stands at less than a third, while, in the US, trust in Congress hit its lowest ever point in November 2011, registering a mere 9 percent – a1.2. The Changing Landscape of decline from 11 percent two months earlier and “the first Political Representation time approval ratings have been in single digits since CBS News and The New York Times began asking the question more than three decades ago”.11 In the newer democra-1.2.1. Public Opinion and Parliaments cies of Eastern Europe, there are equally low levels of trust – in Latvia and Lithuania, in 2009, trust in the parliamentRecent analyses of parliaments around the world tend sat at 11 percent and 8 percent, respectively.12 However,to highlight the fact that they are frequently amongthe least popular national institutions, with only politi- 10 Loewenberg parties recording lower levels of popular trust. 11 Social Capital Blog 2011.Parliaments, as one eminent parliamentary analyst 12 European Commission 2011. Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation 13
  20. 20. chapter I within Western Europe, those rates of approval range from levels of trust in other governing institutions, and this 46 percent in Germany to 21 percent in Spain, with signs average masks possibly the widest regional variation. For that the recent financial crisis has further dented trust in example, trust in the Tanzanian Parliament sits at around parliaments rather than in governments per se.13 Of the 84 percent while, in Nigeria, it is 34.5 percent; in most then-EU candidate countries surveyed by the Eurobarom- (although not all) cases, though, trust in parliament is eter in 2004, trust in parliament was at its lowest in Poland lower than other institutions of government, including and Bulgaria, where just over 91 percent and 86 percent of the president, the electoral commission and the courts.17 respondents, respectively, reported that they “tend not to trust” in the institution. Conversely, at that time, the high- est trust levels among candidate countries were those of Parliaments depend on public Cyprus (79 percent) and Turkey (75 percent).14 support. […] It is important In Latin America, the Latinobarometro Report in 2010 that people have faith in the suggested that, across the region, the percentage of parliamentary process. the population professing trust in parliaments averaged 34 percent. This is lower than the 36 percent approval recorded in 1997, but higher than the 17 percent approv- The reasons for comparatively low levels of trust in parlia- al found in 2003. Although the current rating is margin- ments may partly be explained by their role and the ally higher than trust in the judiciary (32 percent) and public understanding of that role. But that does not take significantly better than political parties (23 percent), away from the fact that, in order to maintain their legiti- trust in parliament has always lagged behind that for the macy and centrality to the political process, parliaments church, television, government, private companies and depend on public support. Even if they do not like every- armed forces in successive Latinobarometro polls. This thing that parliaments do, people need to have faith in again obviously hides national differences, with Uruguay the parliamentary process. Parliamentary roles have at the top end enjoying an approval rating of 62 percent evolved over decades, and in some instances, centuries, and Peru at the bottom with 14 percent. However, in in order to stay relevant to the voters they exist to repre- general, it is fair to say that, in each of these countries, the sent. Parliaments have changed their function, form and parliament scores more poorly than other institutions of powers, and continue to do so. Furthermore, it appears government.15 that, in recent decades, the political landscape within which parliaments operate has changed significantly. In the Arab world and East Asia, where, in many coun- tries, democracy is less well-established, parliaments The next three sections look at separate trends that may be again score poorly by comparison with other institu- eroding parliaments’traditional sources of legitimacy. First, tions – a state of affairs that, at the time of writing, has in many parts of the world, there are fundamental ques- not yet improved with the events of the Arab Spring. tions about the effectiveness of parliaments in holding In Kuwait and Lebanon, for instance, over half of the government to account. Second, parliamentary represen- population has little or no trust in parliament. In South tation is a collective process and reliant on the role of politi- Korea, parliaments came near the bottom of the rank- cal parties, but parties are weakly rooted or face declining ings of trust in national institutions, with only political popularity in many parts of the world. Third, partly in parties less trusted in South Korea.16 response to a more informed and demanding popula- tion, there is now a range of routes to representation and In Africa, the Afrobarometer surveys record a compara- redress. Where parliaments were once the single most tively high level of trust in parliament at around 56 important way in which to articulate public concern, now percent across the continent, but they also record high they are competing with a variety of alternatives, including forms of direct democracy, consultation and regulation. 13 Ibid. 14 European Commission 2004. 15 Latinobarometro 2010. 16 World Values Survey, 5th Wave. 17 Afrobarometer, Round 4.14 People and Parliaments
  21. 21. 1.2.2. Parliamentary Performance – study of legislative development in Africa, suggests ‘Increasingly Significant’? that the situation is changing, with parliaments evolv- ing out of their role as rubber stamps for the executiveThe upheaval in the Arab region since the start of 2011 and becoming more effective as watchdogs, policy-has highlighted the traditional representation deficitin the Middle East and North Africa – a region that haslong stood out for the feebleness of its parliaments.The revolutions have brought much expectation and In the (Arab) region, […] callsoptimism about the future for such bodies. Whereas all for a powerful and effective22 members of the Arab League (including the as yet parliament were at the heart ofunconsolidated Palestinian Authority) boasted legis- the reform movements (in 2011).lative bodies prior to 2011, most of those legislatureswere subordinate to dominant executive branches –a fact that, while not peculiar to the Arab world, wasnonetheless more evident there than in any other makers and representatives.19 The parliaments them-single region. Until recent events, as Ali Sawi notes in selves have shown a capacity to reform and engagehis geographical analysis commissioned for this report, more fully with voters in recent years. The Kenyan“No single Arab parliament [had] succeeded in raising Parliament, for example, has extended its role in over-hope among the Arab public as the [primary] source of seeing the government, scrutinizing the budget andgoverning authority or as a key player in the domestic strengthening its committee system. The Tanzanianpolitical arena .18 Even the Kuwaiti parliament, which Parliament was able to overhaul its rules of procedurehas arguably been the liveliest and most voluble in the and secure far greater institutional independence fromregion, has struggled to have much impact in terms of the executive. In Zambia, meanwhile, the parliamentoversight and scrutiny. Parliaments are frequently the enacted a programme of reforms to improve legis-executive’s scapegoat, earning public and media ire lative processes, establish constituency offices andfor governmental failings. But neither did these parlia- increase opportunities for individual MPs to introducements help themselves, as they often remained silent legislation. In general, parliaments seem to be makingon some of the most important issues in these societ- better use of their constitutional powers, but Barkan’sies, such as unemployment or corruption. conclusion that they are “still weak, but increasinglyThis level of impotence does not go unnoticed, and the significant” highlights both the possibilities and thepublic has largely failed to engage in the semblance of continuing difficulties that they face.20 Despite theserepresentation they have been offered. This sense of changes, each of the parliaments continues to strugglefutility has been reinforced by traditional patrimonial to assert its authority over its government and, in manyand tribal cultures, widespread illiteracy, and a dearth of parts of Africa, politicians struggle to generate publicreliable information on the makeup, performance, and trust. In every country in the region save one (Capedaily activities of parliaments in the region. These factors Verde), at least 15 percent of respondents report thathave exacerbated misunderstanding and bred suspicion “most MPs are corrupt”. A plurality of respondents toamong the wider public. It is unclear, at the start of 2012, the most recent Afrobarometer survey (41.5 percent)how the revolutions and subsequent parliamentary elec- testified that “some MPs are corrupt”.21 This undoubt-tions in the region will develop. But, given that calls for edly also reflects the patchy record of parliamentarya powerful and effective parliament were at the heart of representation on the continent, where the benefitsthe reform movements, there will be significant pressure of multi-party democracy may not be convincing toon those institutions to live up to public expectations. many electorates. In short, parliaments have failed both to live up to the expectations that came withIn sub-Saharan Africa, parliaments have traditionallyalso underperformed. Joel Barkan, in a wide-ranging 19 Barkan 2009. 20 Ibid., 218 Sawi 2011. 21 Afrobarometer 94. Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation 15
  22. 22. chapter I the transition to democracy and to deliver tangible that a parliament has to hold the executive to account improvements in social and economic conditions.22 and the willingness or ability of politicians to use them. Public opinion about the older parliaments in North America and Western Europe highlights the widespread belief that the bodies are not as effective as they should In almost every parliament be, and the public seems to be permanently disappoint- around the world, there is a ed with the ability of parliaments to fulfil their potential. gap between the powers that However, although there are many inherent weaknesses a parliament has to hold the in many parliamentary bodies in almost every part of the executive to account and the world, this has to be viewed within a broader historical willingness or ability of politicians context. Compared with 50 years ago, the world of parlia- to use them. mentary bodies is almost unrecognizable. The tendency to assume that there was once a ‘golden era’ of parliamen- tary democracy is belied by the facts. It is undoubtedly the case that, in key respects, parliaments can do much Similar traits are found in the Pacific region, where, more to become more transparent, open and effective, although parliamentary democracy is well established but, by the same token, they have never been subject to and widely accepted, the parliaments themselves more scrutiny by the media and the public. seem to be getting weaker rather than stronger. As Nakamura et al. note, “rather than becoming genu- It is often overlooked that the organizational and admin- ine institutions of countervailing power, the reverse istrative operation of almost every parliament is more has occurred. Parliaments in the Pacific have become professional now than in the 1960s. Older institutions such marginalised as institutional players while members as the British and French parliaments and the US Congress have overhauled their internal procedures, their budgets have benefited as individuals.”23 At the institutional and their oversight mechanisms in recent decades. There level, parliaments derive support and legitimacy from are undoubtedly weaknesses among the parliaments being a focus of aspirations for an effective and demo- established during the second and third waves of democ- cratic state, but a high turnover of parliamentarians at ratization, but these parliaments are generally improving each election and pressure on MPs to deliver goods their internal organization and procedures and defining and services to voters has bred short-termism and their role. Over the past fifty years, many parliaments have instability. The authors highlight the particular prob- enacted reforms designed to improve legislative scrutiny lem in Melanesia, where parliaments are constrained and executive oversight, and established their financial by three related and mutually reinforcing problems: “a and statutory independence from governments. In short, highly fluid and unstable political system manifest in there is much to do, but viewed in the longer term, glob- weak parties, personalised politics, and intense compe- ally parliaments are better resourced, more professional tition; overwhelming dominance of parliament by the and more representative than ever before. However, main- executive; and widespread perception of corruption”.24 taining support and legitimacy will depend on how parlia- These problems are not confined to the three regions ments seek to meet (or manage) public expectations in the described above. Many parliaments still lack the neces- coming decades. sary formal authority to scrutinize legislation and hold government to account. And, even where parliaments 1.2.3. Political Parties and Citizens: do have significant formal powers, parliaments could be Collective Representation and performing their functions better. In almost every parlia- the Individual ment around the world, there is a gap between powers One of the key factors determining parliamentary performance in every country is the representative 22 Hamilton and Stapenhurst 2011. 23 Nakamura, Clements and Hegarty 2011:8. quality and effectiveness of its political parties. Politi- 24 Ibid. cal parties perform vital functions in any representative16 People and Parliaments
  23. 23. democracy, providing the principal vehicles for the to organize its business, let alone take decisions overrepresentation of citizens’ interests, framing political legislation or government policy. This situation canchoices at elections and forming the basis for govern- be exacerbated in post-conflict situations where therement. Although democracy is continually evolving, it is is limited democratic experience, a large number ofstill difficult to envisage a democracy with broad-based parties and no mutual trust between different groups.representation of citizens’ interests without political Parties frequently suffer from being weakly rootedparties or organizations very much like them.25 in wider society, have little ideological coherence on which to base distinctive policies, and are often basedPolitical parties also perform roles essential to parlia- around the charismatic leadership of one person.mentary representation. In the first instance, theyusually provide MPs with the principal route to re-elec- Second, the representative role of political parties istion and the means to a political career. MPs look changing. Parliaments and political parties are basedprimarily to their political party for advice and guid- on the principle of collective representation of interests.ance on how they should behave in parliament, which Yet this is increasingly at odds with significant cultural,way they should vote or where their support will be technological and political trends in the last 50 yearsexpected. Perhaps more significant, parties, through toward greater individualism. The expansion of publictheir parliamentary groups, provide the basis for the education has created a much more knowledgeableorganization of parliamentary work. While the standing and better-informed citizenry. This growth of knowl-orders or parliamentary by-laws provide the rules of the edge has, in turn, been facilitated by the expansiongame, the parliamentary groups determine the games of media outlets providing a far greater volume andwithin the rules, providing the vehicles for negotiation diversity of information for the public. Technologicalbetween government and opposition over legislationand parliamentary business. In short, they ensure the innovation has further extended the availability of thatsmooth functioning of parliament – or not. information through the internet and other commu- nication technologies, but it has also increased theIt is not the principal purpose of this report to provide speed of exchange and created new opportunities fora detailed analysis of the state of political parties, but dialogue and communication among individuals. Suchtheir centrality to parliamentary functioning means innovations also appeal to a desire for independencethat they cannot be ignored. And, globally, they face and self-reliance in many parts of people’s lives.two sets of problems undermining those roles relatingto their quality and their capacity to represent citizens.First, in many countries, and especially developing Political parties […] arecountries party systems tend to be characterized by increasingly seen as getting in theone-party dominance or high numbers of fragment- way of effective representation,ed parties. Dominant disciplined parties, such as in rather than facilitating it.some African and East Asian states, often mean thatparliament is entirely controlled by the government.In such circumstances, parliament becomes a cipher,especially in post-conflict settings where parties builtfrom rebel movements often continue to display the It may be for these reasons that levels of identificationrigid discipline of former quasi-military organizations. with political parties are declining in many establishedAt the other extreme, a multiplicity of parties, which democracies. Political parties evolved and expandedhave little discipline or internal cohesion, such as in because they were seen as an effective mechanism forsome Latin American states, makes parliament unpre- representing the public interest. But, in democracies olddictable and difficult to organize. Where a party has and new, they are increasingly seen as getting in the wayno control over its MPs, the legislature will struggle of effective representation, rather than facilitating it. People simply do not seem to define themselves in the25 Carothers 2006:10. same way that many political parties seek to represent Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation 17