True practice of democracy [Archives:2005/878/Viewpoint]

September 19 2005

The elected parliament is an outstanding and most apparent phenomenon of democracy in any country adopting and deeply believing in democratic rule. People in various parts of the country choose members of parliament as they cast their votes in ballot boxes in selecting their representatives.

The MPs would carry on their shoulder as representatives and defenders of interests of the people they have taken oath to represent, a very heavy burden. However, parliament authorities in the Arab countries differ from one Arab state to another. The difference stems from the different laws of legislative elections in those countries and according to what is stipulated in constitutions concerning authorities of parliaments especially with regard of interpellation of the entire government or individuals ministers.

The most essential authority the elected representatives of the people must entertain is that of holding governments and their members accountable for failing in executing their policies declared in their formation program. Voting of confidence and non-confidence is a deterrent practice a parliament would perform against any government that does not fulfill syllabus of its program. Such parliamentary authorities and many others are in the core of structure of a democratic rule of the state. Otherwise, parliaments cannot be considered as representatives of their peoples' interests.

Most frequent problems and questions parliaments would face in the work are those pertaining to executive power practical performance because this power is very closely related with daily affair and woes of the people. That is why parliaments usually set up various committees specialized in considering and watching various aspects of a government's practices.

What brought this topic is that last week there was a session at the parliament where our government was summoned to answer for queries raised by about seventy-seven parliament members on some very serious matters connected to the people interests and sufferings. All cabinet members, headed by the prime minister, were present. The prime minister gave explanations on the matters raised by those MPs and then gave the representatives the right to question the concerned ministers, in case they were not fully convinced in the explanations he had presented. From the news of the proceedings of the government interpellation session, it seemed that some ministers were not comfortable to some comments given by some MPs in reply to the prime minister's explanations, forgetting that they were comments by 77 representatives of the people. Government members have to understand that members of parliament are representing the people and the people are the highest authority in the country, and thus they should not feel uncomfortable. It seems, as Arabs, that we have not yet used to the culture of accepting and respecting others' opinion as long as it springs from the people general and high interest.

We have to have fully powered parliaments, truly representing their peoples; otherwise, we cannot say we are democracies with true practice of democracy we aspire for.