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Democracy when you need it most: Strengthening legislative transparency and accountability during crises

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global crisis still sending shock waves across public health systems, governance structures and markets. In response, parliaments had to quickly adapt to the new environment by not only adjusting their procedures and operations to respond to quarantine demands, but also passing legislation to address the emergency. From passing lockdown legislation to approving supplementary budgets or other measures to alleviate the effects of the pandemic, parliaments had to balance urgency with the demands of ensuring integrity and accountability, fair and proper representation, and inclusive decision-making.

The International Budget Partnership and National Democratic Institute partnered to analyze the role that legislatures play in mitigating the ongoing effects of the pandemic, especially through their budget oversight roles, and ensuring responses are effective and consistent with democratic norms. This policy brief incorporates global data and research conducted by the two organizations into parliamentary functions during the pandemic and provides recommendations for legislators, donors and parliamentary support organizations. It provides options for short-term adaptations that will ensure legislatures can perform — and improve — their functions in emergency contexts and at the same time promote long-term democratic governance reform.

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