New tool to measure parliaments’ democratic credentials
Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and partner organisations have published a new tool called the Indicators for Democratic Parliaments, which offers a new approach to measuring parliamentary capacity, resilience, and performance.
Using a framework of 25 indicators, parliaments can evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses against established standards with a view to becoming stronger democratic institutions.
The Indicators align directly with the UN Sustainable Development Goal targets 16.6 and 16.7 which seek to develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions and ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making at all levels.
Each indicator is broken down into several dimensions which set out aspirational goals towards which parliaments can work, along with one or more assessment criteria.
The criteria cover all aspects of parliamentary action, from lawmaking, budgeting, and oversight, to gender mainstreaming and electoral integrity.
For example, on legislation, the criteria include whether:
“The constitution clearly establishes the right of all MPs to initiate legislation and to propose amendments to legislation as it passes through parliament.”
or on elections, whether:
“In practice, elections take place regularly. A significant proportion of citizens participate in these elections. Elections are competitive and citizens’ fundamental rights are respected before, during and after election day.”
The indicators are designed primarily for parliaments to grade themselves, measure their progress, and recommend areas for improvement.
They can be applied to all parliaments, regardless of size, political context, or system.
The framework can also be used by democracy practitioners, civil society, academia, media, or any other third party to measure any given parliament’s performance.
The Indicators have been developed by leading organisations from the parliamentary community: the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), the Directorio Legislativo foundation, Inter Pares / International IDEA, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women, and Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).
The Indicators are the culmination of research that began in 2019. They build upon IPU’s criteria for democratic parliaments and partners’ experience with benchmarking and self-assessment methodologies. Various drafts were extensively tested and reviewed, with input from 50 parliaments from around the world.
An online introdcution to the indicators will take place on:
- 21 November 2023, 10:00–11:30 CET or
- 22 November 2023, 16:00–17:30 CET.