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Parliamentary Monitoring in Tough Times: Lessons Learned for Building Networks and Achieving Results

A healthy democracy depends on a healthy parliament, capable of articulating citizens’ concerns, enacting laws for the common good and holding the executive branch to account for their implementation. For this to happen, effective citizen involvement and participation is imperative. Over the last decade, citizen-led parliamentary monitoring has emerged as a potent mechanism to empower constituents with relevant, accessible and timely information, enabling effective participation and informed decision-making. Parliamentary Monitoring Organizations (PMOs) facilitate public awareness and citizen engagement by collecting and disseminating information on legislative proceedings. While parliamentary monitoring is not a new field, the emergence or intensification of threats – such as closing civic space, executive overreach, polarization, anti-rights movements and information manipulation – necessitate fresh approaches and tools.

To address the escalating challenges, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Directorio Legislativo (DL) developed a report that re-examines parliamentary monitoring and PMO networks, including national and regional case studies from Latin America, Africa and Asia. The report reviews existing evidence on the impact of parliamentary monitoring efforts, delves into the role of PMO networks and draws lessons from real-world initiatives in order to understand the evolving landscape of parliamentary monitoring and its place in sustaining and enhancing democratic governance. The report finds that, in the face of great adversity, PMOs are adapting, collaborating and innovating to navigate the challenges and to continue bolstering legislative effectiveness and integrity. 

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