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Furtherance of Parliaments that will Serve Democracy, Economic Efficiency and Social Equity

Joan Prats i Catalá

This document examines the strengthening of the Legislative Branch as a priority task for democracy, the market and social equity. Consideration of institutional and organisational strengthening of Latin American parliaments is followed by a proposal of the corresponding operational strategies at national level, as well as forms of international cooperation with same.

The first part of the documents stresses the need for strong Parliaments in order to attain sustainable democracies, efficient markets and solidary societies. The argument is made that in Latin America, weak Parliaments have accompanied equally weak democracies, inefficient markets and far from equitable societies.

The second section examines the conditions required for strengthening Parliaments. To this end, it is stated that any strategy should be based on the fundamental distinction between Parliament-institution and Parliament-organisation. Reference is made to the relations between Parliament and civil society and the historical roots underlying the weakness of Latin American parliaments is analysed.

The alternatives for the institutional strengthening of Latin American legislative branches is discussed in the third part of the document. The proposal is made to strengthen representational legitimacy, increase the contribution of Parliaments and the rule of law, strengthening the legislative function and strengthening the functions of national decision-making, orientation and leadership, and control with a view to improving the capacity for the "political self-direction of society". In this regard, there are references to the relations between Parliament and the communications media.

The fourth part of the document is devoted to the strengthening of the Latin American legislative branches from the point of view of organisation. The strengthening of organisation, functional and financial autonomy of Parliaments, an improvement in their functional resources and an investment in human resource training and development are put forward.

The final section of this document presents a proposal for preparing national strategies for strengthening Latin American parliaments.

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