WFD has been a key partner in the UNDP/EU programme Strengthening the System of Parliamentary Democracy in Georgia since 2014. In 2019, Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) entered the third phase (2019-2021) of the programme to strengthen Parliament of Georgia, working with legislators, parliamentary committees, civil servants, local civil society organizations (CSOs) and the media.
Georgia’s aspires to join European Union. Working towards membership requires the nation to make robust reforms aimed at strengthening its state institutions and providing opportunities for citizens to engage in parliamentary processes. By establishing a practice of conducting committee inquiries as well as post-legislative scrutiny (PLS), the programme supports the improved engagement of CSOs and citizens more broadly in policy and law making. It supports their evidence-based engagement in parliamentary oversight processes and thus increases government’s accountability.
The programmes aims at increasing the parliamentary committees’ capacities to conduct thematic inquiries and PLS through training and tailored workshops along with providing expertise throughout the processes. What is more, the programme will raise CSOs’ understanding of the new parliamentary tools and support their participation through providing trainings and small grants. Finally, the programme will work with journalists covering parliamentary affairs to ensure their news reports are accurate, in order to increase public interest in parliamentary work. The programme-supported thematic inquiries and PLS should lead to improved policies and legislation effecting the citizen’s lives.
Since its independence in 1991, Georgia has been on a journey towards Euro-Atlantic integration. The country seeks membership of institutions such as NATO and the European Union. This process requires deep and wide ranging democratic reforms. As part of this, Georgia is moving towards parliamentary government. Building stronger relations with international community and external support is central to reforms.
WFD’s work has seen parliamentary committees’ increase their role in pre- and post-budget scrutiny. This ensures better monitoring of public finances and use of resources. We encourage stronger engagement with services such as the Parliamentary Budget Office and institutions like the State Audit Office. We have engaged civil society within the budget process, bringing this closer to citizens and providing an avenue for policy alignment with the public’s priorities.
For the first time, a parliamentary staff-led induction scheme for newly elected parliamentarians has been implemented, with WFD support. This provides training and orientation for newly elected MPs, aiding them to understand and fulfil their duties. This allows new members to understand the institution, and to effectively represent citizens right from the start of the convocation.
WFD has advised in the reforming of the parliament’s International Relations Department (IRD). With our support, the IRD’s role has been expanded and clearly defined. To aid the unit meet its new responsibilities, WFD has supported staff training and learning. Through this process, the IRD will play a central role in supporting Georgia’s parliamentary diplomacy, international linkages and global exposure.