The COVID-19 Pandemic severely affected parliaments along with all other governance institutions. Parliaments have had to balance continuing to assume their constitutional responsibilities to ensure democratic governance continuity, enacting and carefully overseeing special executive powers to combat the virus, setting an example in terms of safe working practices, and protecting the health of parliamentarians, staff, and other visitors to parliamentary buildings.
The INTER PARES team (Lead researcher of data tracker: Laura Mancilla) has conducted a global mapping of parliaments’ different responses to the coronavirus pandemic, collecting and comparing open-source data from 166 parliaments around the world from February to June 15, 2020.
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Read the new INTER PARES Parliamentary Primer:
Parliaments and Crisis is the new Parliamentary Primer produced by the INTER PARES project, funded by the European Union and delivered by International IDEA. Written In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the Primer looks at how democratic parliaments play a crucial role in making good decisions and protecting citizens’ rights during a crisis.
Based on a survey of actions taken by parliaments around the world during March 2020, Parliaments in Crisis explores how parliaments around the world have responded to the coronavirus pandemic, within a broader exploration of how parliaments can protect democratic principles and ensure good governance during crises. The Primer explores the different steps parliament took to: enable their continued functioning including through innovative solutions such as virtual sessions; give governments necessary powers to protect public health; conduct effective oversight of government actions particularly to ensure respect for citizen rights; and learn lessons from the crisis to feed into better planning and decision-making.
Responding to COVID-19: The European Parliament - promoting democracy, and helping the vulnerable
In this series Responding to COVID-19, the INTER PARES team is sitting down – virtually – with our colleagues in parliaments around the world, sharing innovations that they have initiated to continue and enhance parliamentary work. In this article, we take a look at how the European Parliament has responded to the crisis, through continuing its business while protecting members and staff, through underlining the importance of maintaining democratic values even during such a crisis, and by reaching out directly to help some of the most vulnerable in society. We spoke with Pietro Ducci, the Parliament’s Director-General for External Policies of the Union, whose roles include leading the Directorate for Democracy Support, which supports the Parliament’s worldwide activities to strengthen parliaments and democracy.
Responding to COVID-19: The Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago ramps up oversight during coronavirus pandemic
If, when, now – the three stages of ‘grief’ in parliamentary pandemic planning
Parliamentary oversight is central to democratic governance, and critical in a crisis. When governments around the world are granted emergency powers, parliamentary oversight ensures that public safety and human security are assured, at the same time as human rights are safeguarded. Trinidad and Tobago’s Parliament launched a public inquiry into the preparedness of public authorities to respond to a potential crisis in early February 2020, at a time when the country was gearing up for carnival and no COVID-19 cases had yet been confirmed on the islands. An interview with Keiba Jacob Mottley, Head of the Financial Scrutiny Unit, shows how the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago has continued to effectively scrutinise the executive during the coronavirus pandemic, assuring high quality and accountable governance at a time of crisis.
Responding to COVID-19: The Czech Parliament's Education Initiative
Live streamed tours of parliament and online learning tools
With most parliaments around the world unable to receive visitors on their premises, parliamentary educational activities and school programmes have also been suspended. Recognising the importance of continued engagement with its citizens and particularly young people, the Parliament of the Czech Republic has launched a new website and YouTube channel that aim to bring parliament closer to people. In this second instalment of our Parliamentary Innovations Series, we sit down with the parliamentary staff in charge of the new website, Petr Valenta (Head of the Department of Communication and Education, Parliamentary Institute) and Miroslav Kupka (Consultant, Department of Communication and Education, Parliamentary Institute), to see how the project is coming to life.
Responding to COVID-19: The Hellenic Parliament holds virtual committee meetings
During the coronavirus crisis, the Hellenic Parliament in Greece is faced, like most parliaments in the world, with the challenge of continuing to function effectively, while protecting the health of members and staff. In this first of a series of short articles, INTER PARES is highlighting innovative practices that European Union Member State Parliaments, and our partner parliaments around the world, are adopting to enable parliaments to carry out their mandates of legislation, oversight, and representation, at this crucial time.