Parliaments Source for Both Hope & Dismay

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Global Parliamentary Report Issued - Parliaments/Congresses around the globe are being blamed for many of our democracies’ ills and failing economies. However, the UN Assess them as both critical to free societies and ultimately success of representative democracies. Joint Report launched today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) - first Global Parliamentary Report (GPR) - calls on parliaments to address the fragile trust in them, engage with citizens, stay closely attuned to their needs and make every effort to meet them. “Parliamentarians are better placed to assess the concrete outcome of the legislation they discuss, amend and pass when they engage with citizens. These exchanges are critical to ensure that citizens, through their elected representatives, influence their governments and hold them to account more effectively, especially in key areas for development according to UNDP’s Associate Administrator, Rebeca Grynspan.


Varying Degrees of Confidence in Representative Bodies:

More than 125 parliaments and 660 members of parliament (MPs) participated in the Report, which aims to help both legislative assemblies and politicians better understand and respond to the public pressures they are facing. Trust levels in places such as Lithuania and the United States are just below 10 per cent with similar trends evident in the Arab world, East Asia and the Pacific. Meanwhile, there was a comparatively high level of trust in sub-Saharan Africa, at some 56 per cent. See Blog for Video  - “Financial Crisis & Lost Support for Democracy.


Emergence of Monitoring Organizations/NGOs:

The report also points to the emergence of more than 190 parliamentary monitoring organizations in more than 80 countries, the growing number of parliaments with codes of conduct and the limits placed on the length of parliamentary mandates as measures to make MPs more accountable to an increasingly demanding electorate.


“It is clear that casting a ballot every few years is no longer enough for an electorate. It wants more democratic engagement between it and the political institution it elects,” said the President of the IPU, Abdelwahad Radi. “Most parliaments have recognized the need to change the way the public sees it, its role and its work. And they are doing something about it.” The Report highlights the various initiatives being undertaken worldwide to engage and inform the public on parliamentary work and outcomes. These include developing inter-active websites, introducing ‘open’ visiting days or using radio to reach constituents in remote areas, such as in Afghanistan and Benin. In Namibia, customized buses tour the country enabling citizens to submit their views to parliament on legislation. However, the report finds genuine public influence over parliamentary outcomes remains limited. It cautions that if faith in parliament is not to be undermined further, initiatives must deliver on giving the public that influence. (UN News Centre Sources) Nearly all countries now have some form of parliamentary assembly, and overall, they are more accessible, more professionally run and better-resourced than 50 years ago, although efficacy and commitment to democracy/free society varies considerably..


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Global Parliamentary Report


The changing nature of parliamentary representation


The focus of this first Global Parliamentary Report is the evolving relationship between citizens and parliaments. The intention is to analyse how citizens’ expectations are changing, and how parliaments, politicians and parliamentary staff are responding.


There are three dominant pressures facing parliaments. Each is playing itself out in different ways and at different speeds in specific countries and regions. But there are common themes in the greater public desire for:


- information and influence in parliamentary work


- accountability and responsiveness to public concerns


- service and delivery to meet citizens’ needs


The report uses the experience of institutions and individual politicians to illustrate the challenges and the variety of initiatives aimed at enhancing parliamentary representation in different parts of the world. It aims to help parliaments and politicians understand the pressures better, identify some of the tensions that they need to manage and provide examples of good practice which might offer insight, inspiration or emulation.


  • MPs: There are 46,552 MPs in the world. The global average number of parliamentarians per country is 245. China has the largest parliament with 3,000 members in the Chinese National People’s Congress. The world’s smallest parliament is in Micronesia, with just 14 MPs.
  • Women: There are 8,716 women parliamentarians globally, which is 19.25 per cent of the total number of MPs.
  • Age: The global average age of an MP is 53. The average age for a woman MP is 50. Sub-Saharan African MPs have the lowest regional average age at 49 with Arab countries with the highest at 55.
  • Budgets: The U.S. Congress has the largest parliamentary budget at US$5.12 billion. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines spends least on parliament budget at 1.8 million.

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  • The Global Parliamentary Report English

Related Links

UNDP & Democratic Governance


About the author


"Voice of the Global Citizen"- Diplomatically Incorrect ( provide film and written reports on issues reflecting diplomatic discourse and the global citizen. Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey (@MuhamedSacirbey) is former Foreign Minister Ambassador of Bosnia & Herzegovina at the United Nations. "Mo" is also signatory of the Rome Conference/Treaty establishing the International…

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