CPA Post-Election Seminars

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has in recent years responded to numerous requests for setting up Post-Election Seminars. Post-Election seminars are two to three day seminars on Parliamentary Practice and Procedure, where experts describe how things are done in other Commonwealth Parliaments and relate these experiences in discussion to the local scene. The Seminars have proved to be most helpful and popular with all Members, irrespective of their experience and political affiliation. The Seminar is usually delivered after an election and in addition to a Parliament’s own induction Seminar for Members.

The Post-Election Seminar is one of the core programmes of the CPA. For over 20 years, the CPA has conducted numerous Post-Election Seminars for Parliaments that have a high intake of new Parliamentarians, are entering a new political system or era, or are emerging from a period of conflict. Post-Election Seminars are aimed at building the capacity of newly elected Members of Parliament so they function efficiently and effectively in the performance of their democratic duties and serves as a refresher course for returning MPs.

This longstanding programme introduces Members to different parliamentary systems and methods of working. They usually take place a few months after a general election and are delivered by senior, highly experienced Parliamentarians and parliamentary officials from throughout the Commonwealth. The objectives are two-fold: to disseminate information on diverse good practices in Commonwealth Parliaments, and to promote an understanding of the way parliamentary procedures and practices can embed good governance into a system.

In recent years, the CPA has held Post-Election Seminars in Malawi, Swaziland, the Bahamas, Pakistan, Mauritius and Guyana. 
 
What do Members say about the Post-Election Seminars?

Prime Minister & First Vice President of Guyana - Hon. Moses Nagamootoo said: “I commend the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) for its efforts at advancing open governance; democratic governance and best parliamentary practices. In tangible terms the CPA, through its work, promotes a convention of Members of parliament and the staff of Parliament working with each other to enhance the law-making processes and facilitate reviews of Government functions and policies. We therefore salute the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association for this post-election seminar for all Members of Parliament to allow us to learn from best practices and procedures in other jurisdictions.” (March 2016)

For further information on CPA Post-Election Seminars, please contact the Secretariat via hq.sec@cpahq.org.


Post-Election Seminar - Typical Content

A Post-Election Seminar provides an opportunity for Members to ask questions about parliamentary practice and procedure which they might not otherwise ask or not have the opportunity to ask in other settings.  Most importantly, it provides them with a better understanding of the parliamentary system and democratic processes. 
A list of the topics discussed can include, but is not limited to:

1. The Evolution of Parliamentary Democracy and the Constitution
Principles of the Westminster Model of Parliamentary Democracy and other democratic models of governance

2. The Development of the Commonwealth and the role of the CPA

The unique quality of the Commonwealth; development of the organisation; Commonwealth Heads of Government and their Declarations of Principles.  The CPA and its history; the CPA as a professional development body; the Annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference and other meetings; Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians; regional development; the structure of a Branch

3. Institutional aspects of the Parliamentary System including the relationship between the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary

How Parliaments work; the branches of government; the Legislature and the Judiciary; the Legislature and the Executive

4. Parliament, democracy and civil society

The meaning of being an elected representative; representing constituents; the relationship between Parliament and the people; the office of the ombudsman; local government; bringing young people into the parliamentary process; other interested groups

5. The Role of Members of Parliament including the Role of the Backbencher

The roles and responsibilities of an MP; the role of representative of constituents; the role of legislator; the role of scrutineer; supporting or criticising government proposals

6. Practice and Procedure in the House

The role of the Speaker, Leader of the House, Whips and Parliamentary Staff; bills and passage of legislation; Government Business; Private Members’ Business; motions; questions; statements; adjournment; conventions and practices

7. Parliamentary Committees

Scrutiny of the Executive; working by consensus; procedures to receive public inputs and advice of experts; selection of Chairpersons and Members; Committee structure in bicameral Parliaments; Financial Scrutiny, the financial supervision of the Executive; the budget cycle; the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General

8. Women in Parliament

Challenges on the road to Parliament; obstacles to equal participation: cultural and economic obstacles, institutional obstacles, psychological barriers; looking ahead

9. (a)  Parliament and Human Rights, (b)  Parliament and the Media

What constitutes Human Rights; the role of Parliament in Human Rights matters. Reporting proceedings in Parliament; freedom of the press and freedom of information

10. Party Organisation within Parliament

The role of the Government Party, the role of the Opposition; how parties organise their own Members; the role of Members within their parties; co-operation between parties to create an effective and functional parliamentary environment; Whips; services for Parliamentarians; Backbench influence on the Executive

11. Privilege and Members’ Interests

Parliament’s rights to control its internal procedures; safeguards to conduct business without interference; collective and individual protection; breaches of privilege

12. Ethics and Accountability of Members of Parliament

Codes of ethics; concept of accountability as applied to Parliamentarians

13.  Administration and Financing of Parliament
Concept of financial autonomy for legislatures and use its influence to create a better understanding amongst members of the Executive as to the proper relationship with the Parliament. The importance of parliamentary independence.

For further information, please contact the CPA Secretariat via hq.sec@cpahq.org.