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Evaluating parliament: A self-assessment toolkit for parliaments
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This self-assessment toolkit invites parliaments to evaluate their democratic performance against a set of criteria based on the core values set out in IPU’s ground breaking study Parliament and democracy in the twenty-first century: A guide to good practice. The purpose is not to rank parliaments. It is to help parliaments to identify their strengths and weaknesses against international criteria, in order to determine priorities for strengthening the parliamentary institution.
The IPU toolkit is built around the assumption that the evaluation will be conducted internally by parliamentarians. Since parliamentary evaluation implies that parliamentarians are required to change the way they work, it stands to reason that parliamentarians themselves should conduct the assessment. The toolkit, systematic in nature, was developed from a major endeavour to examine the question of what constituted a democratic parliament, and lends practical shape to the methods set out in the handbook entitled Parliament and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century. It breaks the evaluation down into six sections: the representativeness of parliament; parliamentary oversight of the executive; parliament’s legislative capacity; the transparency and accessibility of parliament; the accountability of parliament; and parliament’s involvement in international policy. Each section comprises a list of questions to which the respondents are invited to provide an assessment on a five-point scale, ranging from very good to very poor.
To date, the IPU toolkit has been used by the parliaments in Australia, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Ireland, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and South Africa. The toolkit has been used in different ways according to the needs of each parliament, but has typically been part of a process designed to improve the functioning of parliament and has led to the creation of a strategic plan for the parliament. It has also become a key feature in the programmes that the IPU delivers in building capacities in parliaments.