Scholarly article on topic 'The Decisive Role of Parliaments in Democracy of Social-political Life'

The Decisive Role of Parliaments in Democracy of Social-political Life Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Gabriela Nemţoi

Abstract The topic discussed is a current issue because the Parliament as legislative body, is often collaborating with the civil society to solve legislative issues. Although governments have different powers and means necessary to intervene in reducing and eliminating the effects of the economic crisis, parliaments struggle to impose an increased political role in the exercise of democratic prerogatives. Generally, this is achieved by supporting and promoting adequate legislation through effective participation in the increasing complexity of social dynamics. The process of democratization in modern times, and especially in the contemporary world is inextricably linked to the phenomenon of parliamentarism, key institution that requires the implementation of legal norms that facilitate not only a range of fundamental rights, but also an optimized development of all state segments, economic and political. Democratization of social and political life and establishing a competitive economy is an extremely complex process that affects all segments of society. Complexity of the phenomenon is defined by evaluating two different, sometimes even contradictory, plans. On the one hand, the implementation rules of the market economy, which implies the existence of a strong state power, capable to stop any phenomenon of corruption or misconduct, and on the other hand, political and individual freedom that enjoys a discrete presence of state authority in ensuring the conferred rights and freedoms of citizens. In conclusion, the correlation between the Parliament and democracy is classical and the effect of this conglomerate is a reflection of social life.

Academic research paper on topic "The Decisive Role of Parliaments in Democracy of Social-political Life"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 149 (2014) 647 - 652

LUMEN 2014

The Decisive Role of Parliaments in Democracy of Social-Political

Gabriela Nem{oia*

aStefan cel Mare University of Suceava, Str. Universitatii nr. 13, Suceava, 720229, Romania

Abstract

The topic discussed is a current issue because the Parliament as legislative body, is often collaborating with the civil society to solve legislative issues.

Although governments have different powers and means necessary to intervene in reducing and eliminating the effects of the economic crisis, parliaments struggle to impose an increased political role in the exercise of democratic prerogatives. Generally, this is achieved by supporting and promoting adequate legislation through effective participation in the increasing complexity of social dynamics. The process of democratization in modern times, and especially in the contemporary world is inextricably linked to the phenomenon of parliamentarism, key institution that requires the implementation of legal norms that facilitate not only a range of fundamental rights, but also an optimized development of all state segments, economic and political. Democratization of social and political life and establishing a competitive economy is an extremely complex process that affects all segments of society.

Complexity of the phenomenon is defined by evaluating two different, sometimes even contradictory, plans. On the one hand, the implementation rules of the market economy, which implies the existence of a strong state power, capable to stop any phenomenon of corruption or misconduct, and on the other hand, political and individual freedom that enjoys a discrete presence of state authority in ensuring the conferred rights and freedoms of citizens.

In conclusion, the correlation between the Parliament and democracy is classical and the effect of this conglomerate is a reflection of social life.

© 2014 TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of LUMEN 2014. Keywords: parliament; govern political; civil society; public authorities; democracy.

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +40-330-101-330; fax: +40 230-522-978. E-mail address: gabrielan@seap.usv.ro

1877-0428 © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of LUMEN 2014. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.08.242

1. Introduction

In a world faced globally with strong economic, financial political, and cultural crisis affecting governments, parliaments, and all civil society, especially the citizen in exercising their rights and freedoms, we consider it necessary to reflect on the ratio between democracy and parliament. Our paper highlights particularly the role of representative assemblies in balancing the relations between public authorities and civil society (Enache, 2012).

Although governments have different and necessary powers and intervention tools in reducing and eliminating the effects of the economic crisis, parliaments struggle to impose increasingly political role in the exercise of democratic powers, and generally, by supporting and promoting adequate legislation to the increasing complexity of the dynamic social life. The process of democratization in modern times and especially in the contemporary era is inextricably linked with the phenomenon of parliamentarism, decisive institution that requires the implementation of legal norms that facilitate not only a range of fundamental rights, but also an optimized development of the state in all economic, political segments, etc.

Political organization and democratic society cannot be conceived without the existence of the institution of Parliament, as supreme representative and democratic authority and unique legislative authority (Nem^oi 2012).

Parliamentarism substantiation lies in proper understanding and completing the role and functions of Parliament in the system of state power, balanced by national sovereignty, which results from democratic constitutionality.

Parliamentarism implies the existence of cohabitation relationships between nation, as holder of sovereignty, and their elected representatives, as recipients of democratic values.

Parliamentary life of a democratic state is a model of civilization based on the fundamental concept of democracy, that states that the authority of government, whether legislative, executive or judicial originally belongs to the indefeasible and inalienable right of the governed.

2. Parliament in strengthening democracy in post-communist states

The collapse of communism in the former socialist countries in Europe triggered a revolutionary process of introducing democracy, each country engaging in a stage of socio - political and economic transformation, governed by freedoms based on the principle of separation of powers. The communist regime, although relying on the same basis, is different from country to country depending on their particularities, identity, culture, etc.

While in Romania or in the former U.R.S.S., the communist regime based on the exclusive existence of one political party having all the powers of government, in the former G.D.R., Poland and Bulgaria there were other parties playing a subordinate role. This aspect implicitly demonstrated a variety of transition techniques applied by these former communist countries to follow the steps of democratization.

In addition, the Hungarian economic reform started many years before the fall of communism, and in Poland and Czechoslovakia the regime of civil liberties is more relaxed, extending to unilateral democracy.

In all communist states, Parliament has become a fundamental authority of the new political regime, however, not all these states established parliamentary regimes (former Soviet Union has a presidential regime).

Renaissance of parliamentarism did not represent a unanimous trend for all former communist states. In some states, although unitary, the Parliament has a bicameral structure (Poland, Czech Republic, Romania), and in others, a unicameral structure (Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria).

We emphasize that in the former communist states, with the acquisition of democracy, parliamentary authority fulfilled an exclusively innovative role of democratic opening as political, decision-making and control authority of the Executive.

Fundamental existence of representative democracy is the liability of the Executive to the Parliament, regardless of the position of the state chief who can be elected directly by the electorate, or indirectly, by the Parliament. Political responsibility consists in the balance achieved between Parliament and Government, and involves a wide range of control methods, such as questions, interpellations, political statements, simple motions, information procedures, parliamentary inquiry, and ultimately, dismissal procedure of Government by withdrawing trust that was trusted expressly or presumably.

Democratization of political life involves partisan phenomenon. From this point of view, with the completion of the phenomenon of democratization, it can be noticed gradual consistent passage from the explosion of democratic

life beginnings to noticeable decrease of the number of parties. This phenomenon demonstrates the stability, achieving electoral awareness in civil society, and the maturing of political life and public opinion.

Another aspect that has shaped the democratization of the former communist period is the constitutionality of laws. The aspiring moment in a democracy is ensuring the principle of constitutional supremacy, and legality of constitutional rights and citizen freedoms. From this perspective, parliaments have a crucial role in establishing their legal relations with the new authorities.

Transitional period settles the governance model as that of consensus democracy (Lijphart, 2000). We conclude that this type of democracy is the consequence of a society in transition, strong divided, which excludes the establishment of a major democracy, because it poses a serious risk.

The consequences are the outcome of several factors including the structure of parliamentary majorities - in coalition agreements based on more or less honest and real, the behavior of governments - hesitation, contradictions, development of separation tendencies, which demonstrates an unstable character of the political spectrum.

The lack of civil society participation in government decision-making represents an inconvenience, which is not specific to consensual democracy.

According to Professor Marian Enache, "excessive polarization of the political spectrum and the lack of a culture of transparent and balanced, honestly assumed political compromise, stands as one of the most important risk factors threatening strengthening and stability of parliamentary democracy in post-communist societies."

Consequently, democratic stability is given only by the perpetual activity of civil society in political life, starting with electoral activity, by which people elect their representatives to direct participation of different parties, trade unions, media, and NGOs influencing the political decision-making prerogative.

3. The Public Image of the Parliament - Decision-making Factor in Thinking the Government Strategy

One of the urgent problems the Parliament as an institution is confronted with in the whole world is to create a real and concrete image with a fixed weight centre, which can dictate the rules of the government policy, an image that imposes the institution in leader position which dominates in relation to the civil society.

It is rather suppressing the fact that in Romania only 10% of the Romanians trust the main democratic institution meant to represent them at the national level. The weak position of the Parliament and of the parliamentarians as far as the population's trust is concerned is a post-communist historical ascertained fact.

Starting from the early 90s the public image of the Parliament has been in coloured in grey to black hues, and the trust of the legislative was systematically lower than that in other public institutions, the presidential institution included.

Statistically speaking, the authoritative public hates debates, fact that generates mistrust. Uncertainty which implies debates is rather poorly accepted by the electorate in Romania. As prof. Marian Enache asserts, "the authoritative population cannot stand how the leaders do not know all the answers in advance", the ceaseless discussions not only in the Romania's Parliament create repulsion in the electorate, diminishing the image of decision-making institution of the Parliament.

Many of the reproaches to the Parliament institution are related to the non assumption of what the citizens consider to be the basic responsibilities of a parliament - the political representation of the citizens and the regulation for the public good. These reproaches are justified by the legislative delays that appear in the parliamentary disputes between majority and opposition. On the other hand these reproaches are alimented by the tendency of the Executive to assume the merits for accomplishments and to associate political failures or inefficiency attributed to the Parliament for the weak points in the power's government.

The Parliament with its whole composition of parliamentarians is periodically monitored by the public through the permanent presence of the press, mass media, which stigmatize sometimes excessively the parliamentarian's activity, derogating the parliamentary function of public use to a function of the private interests of the high officials.

The image conceived in the public perception, the civil society, the electorate, affect the real image of the Parliament institution and undermines its capacity to fulfill its constitutional functions. The negative public image of the Parliament and the objections the citizens have against the parliamentarians as a social group extend to all the community states.

Although initially in the first stage the Parliament has an imposing image in the ex-communist countries, as legislative power, a generator of democratization of the social-political life, gradually the activity of the high officials will shadow this image, the interest of the public towards this institution diminishing little by little, and the attribute of the Executive through assumption of responsibility on specific texts, casts a shadow of doubt on the activity and loyalty of this institution towards the electorate.

The efficiency of the activity of the parliament is assessed depending on its capacity to promote the specific interests of the electors in different districts. Thus, in many parliamentary systems it is insisted that parliamentarians be representatives of the nation as a whole and that the loyalty to the nation prevail over the group interests.

As a consequence, the implementation and promotion of the image of the Parliament is a responsibility of the parliamentarians and implicitly a relation of collaboration with the electorate who expects the Parliament to represent their opinion.

4. Functionality of representative democracy in the postmodern world

A critical issue for parliamentary institutions around the world is the public image that they deliver opposed to their activity.

In 2010, Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy conducted a research, which measured the Romanians trust in various public agencies. The lawmakers occupied the first place for mistrust. In conclusion, according to public opinion, 90% of people reported high degree of mistrust in the institution of the Romanian Parliament (IRES, Public Report, 2010).

Parliament image decreases due to excessive domination of the Executive that, in 2008-2010, in Romania, ascended by taking responsibility for different pieces of legislation. Delimitation of Parliament due to the uncertain activity and the impossibility of decision implementation created a poor image as institution, unable to perform constitutional functions.

Impairment of Parliament image is a current tendency spread in many democratic states, and, with respect to the years 1980-1990, the trust in Parliament as mirrored in mass media decreased by 5%, from 48% to 43%, in 17 countries (Newton, Norris, 1999).

In this respect, we have to keep in mind that the deterioration of Parliament image, as representative body, essentially indicates an indirect decrease in political institutions image and distrust of their activities, in relation to citizens.

Being an expression of democracy, representative parliaments express functionality on condition that they represent the will of civic body elections. Consequently, the representativeness of parliaments is an indicator of the proper functioning of the representative democracy system in a society.

Worldwide, there has been a decrease in the number of voters in relation to major population of about 5%, in four decades. Thus Western European countries are characterized by participation rates of over 70% (Malta had the highest rate, 93% in 2008, Luxembourg had 90% in 2009, Belgium had 89% in 2010) in the countries where voting is compulsory. France, UK, Portugal stand at the opposite pole, with values around 60% or below this threshold (Thomassen, 2005)

Central and Eastern Europe, after the ecstasy of the beginning of representative democracy, show a low participation rate in the parliamentary elections, of 40% -60%.

Participation in elections in Romania experienced a similar evolution to that of the European countries, except that the decline was quite rampant. Parliamentary elections, in 1990, show participation of 86.19% of the voting population, in 1992, the percentage dropped to 76.28%, in 1996, it continued to drop to 76.01%, in 2000, the number of voters represented 65.31% of the number of citizens eligible to vote, and it reached 58.51%, in 2004, and 39.20%, in 2008 (Preda, Soare, 2010)

A first aspect that we should underline refers namely to the fact that citizens are not interested in politics, their access to modifying or changing something being limited by their own will. Trust in Parliamentary institution is shaped by the will of society, and by its political consciousness. This supports the idea if the main representative institution, the Parliament, can effectively exercise sovereignty as the sum of citizens' power.

Another source of limitation of the parliaments' capacity has its origin in the complex processes of globalization. We must admit that the current world is characterized by increasing interpenetration of economies, communications,

increased movement of ideas, capital, problems that can not be controlled or resolved at the national level, but require forms of action that transcend borders.

Another condition for parliamentary good functioning is the change occurring in the media, forms of interaction between civil society and public institutions, the media (Held, McGrew, Goldblantt, Perraton, 2004). In the information society, parliamentary democracy is just one of many ways of representation (Frissen, 2002). Development of computer science will make the transition from representative democracy to a monitory democracy (Keane, 2009).

Monitory democracy includes representative democracy, participates in its implementation, but outlines its limitations. Thus, we conclude that representative democracy in the postmodern period will develop, but there will also be risks such as economic, social, cultural factors; etc.

5. Conclusions

Regardless of stances in which Parliament will set itself up as the dominant political institution of a state, he will always play the main role in power management policy.

It is important that the Parliament take on firmly the role of power balance guarantor and guardian of national sovereignty.

A critical issue is finding a balance between formal rules and solutions derived in the functioning of Parliament.

The Parliament should stand as foundation of democracy and as reflection of exerting power.

In a democratic regime the right to have opinions, positions and programs is eloquently demonstrated through the activity of the Parliament, instrument of mediation between the civil society and the institutions of the state, as legislative factor. If the national Parliament is considered to be a powerful institution for the community states with a maximum contribution to the government of the power, being a component of the electorate, one cannot say the same thing about the European Parliament which in spite of the fact that it is an institution chosen directly by the citizens, therefore the one that should have a maximum democratic legitimacy, it is still a weak institution in the legislative triangle.

Democracy means the people's authority and no the authority to act on the people's behalf. Parliaments represent the back spine of the conventional democracy, form more and more widespread among the states of the world. The Parliament is visualized by some as a mistaken representation of the people, and the parliamentary systems represent a false solution to the problem of democracy.

Initially, the Parliament was created to represent the citizens of the state, but it itself is non-democratic, because democracy means the people's authority and not an authority to act in the name of the people, here the substitution form does not apply.

As the nowadays Parliament, as it is, means the absence of the people. The institution of the parliament mostly does not represent the interest of the people but the interest of the party that won the elections, therefore, the position of the majority.

True democracy exists only through the direct participation of the people and not through the action of its representatives. Parliaments have always been a legal barrier between people and the exercise of authority, excluding the masses from decision-making and monopolizing the sovereignty in their place. People are left only with a facade of the democracy, manifested through long queues at the electoral urns.

Pro-active action of the citizens to the social-political life, especially to the decision-making political-juridical process represents a fact of re-composition of the ideal model of participative democracy in the complex context of contemporariness. This fact appears out of the need of democratic legitimacy, which imposes the political regime to institutionalize participation ways with a view to intervene in the relationship between governing and the governed ones. Our study aims to detect some aspects regarding the relationship between the contemporary parliaments and the citizen, the guarantee these institutions can offer in implementation of democracy and the effects that appear when the representation is only formal, the true reality being recorded in the number of the electorate and its credibility in the activity of the representative institution.

Democracy, n matter how it is defined, suggests more than free elections, the basis of this form of government. The existence of government imposes a partnership approach between the citizens and the elected ones in which

they trust, with the contemporary extension towards the public high officials and the administrative institutions as representatives of the state.

In the democratic societies the guarantee is given through honesty, transparency on the side of the elected ones and the possibility offered to the people to play an important part in the process of government, as a distinct entity.

In this direction the Parliament must assume the role of the endorser and protector of the common citizen against the excesses of the different institutions of the state and even against some interest groups who are in the position to manipulate the power in their own interests.

The Parliament is the institution that can offer these guarantees through the principle of law universalism and of the right norms, which means the control of the temptations of personalizing law.

No matter the position or the principles that can be used by the Parliament, it needs the assumption of a strategic approach of its relation to the other public institutions and the citizens.

In conclusion, The Parliament is an instrument of the democracy, which offers transparency, opportunity and real perspectives through which the citizen develops their capacity of "chief" of their own identity.

References

Enache, M. (2012). Parliamentary democracy. Bucuresti: Editura Universul Juridic, p.15

Nemtoi, G. (2012). Referendum a legal instrument of democracy, International Journal of Arts and Commerce (IJAC), vol.1.august 2012,

ISSN1929-7106, p.252-258 http://ijac.org.uk/ Lijphart, A. (2000). Models of democracy. Ia§i: Editura Polirom, p. 49-73.

Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy (IRES). Public Report, (2010), pp. 13-35 http://www.ires.com.ro/articol/68/barometru-increderii-romanilor)

Newton, K., Norris, P. (1999). Confidence in Public Institutions: Faith, Culture or Performance?, Paper at the Annual Meeting of the American

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