The Politics of Parliamentary Strengthening

The Politics of Parliamentary Strengthening applies a political economy approach to parliamentary support. Published jointly by GPA and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), the publication provides a way of mapping influence within parliaments, identifying the incentive structures that promote or inhibit reform, and sets out a framework for designing parliamentary support projects along these lines.

The paper argues that the purpose of all parliamentary support projects is to change political behaviour. An effective parliament depends on the willingness and ability of MPs and staff to use their powers to the full. Yet in every parliament there is a gap between the institution’s theoretical power and how it is used in practice. What gets in the way is almost always to do with the political incentives that shape behaviour.

Projects need to be judged by how far they promote new patterns of behaviour in parliament. The paper therefore seeks to improve understanding of the factors that shape political behaviour. It suggests that projects should be guided by five core principles including understanding what the institution looks like through the eyes of those in power and framing parliamentary development in personal rather than institutional terms.