Parliament and democracy in the twenty-first century: A guide to good practice
What is the parliamentary contribution to democracy? What makes a parliament or legislature itself democratic? How might it become more so?
Parliament and democracy in the twenty-first century provides a comprehensive and systematic account of the central role that parliament plays in a democracy. It explains what it means for a parliament to be truly representative, transparent, accessible, accountable and effective in its many functions. The Guide provides examples to good practice contributed by parliaments from every region of the world, that illustrate how purely abstract ideas of democracy become grounded in real-life parliamentary practices.
These examples show that parliaments are working hard:
|to be more inclusive in their composition and manner of working, especially in relation to women and minority and marginal communities;|
|to be more effective public communicators, through opening more of their work to the media, and through the development of their own websites and broadcasting channels;|
|to experiment with new ways of engaging with the public, including civil society, and enabling them to contribute to the legislative process;|
|to recover public confidence in the integrity of parliamentarians, through enforceable codes of conduct and reforms in party funding;|
|to streamline the legislative process without limiting the proper scrutiny of bills;|
|to exercise more effective oversight of the executive, including in the increasingly important field of international policy;|
|to be more active in transnational collaboration, so as to provide a more effective parliamentary component in regional and international organizations, and in the resolution of violent conflicts.|
The many examples of democratic practice given in the Guide are not intended to skate over problems or to minimise the challenges which all parliaments currently face; nor to understate the difficulties of realizing a genuine democracy in practice. What they can do is provide clear evidence that democratic change is possible, and offer some very practical illustrations of how it might be brought about. In this way, the Guide seeks to make its own contribution to realizing a more securely democratic future.