UARU
Discussion: Modern Parliament. The Price of Consensus
7 September, 2016

What You Need To Know:

✅  On September 6th, 2016, Hromadske made a special on modern parliaments, particularly concerning the parliaments of Switzerland and Ukraine
✅ This special focuses specifically on issues like compromise, transparency, discipline, and corruption in modern parliaments
✅  Guest speakers of this special include: Christa Markwalder, President of the National Council of Switzerland; Oksana Syroid, Ukraine’s Parliament Deputy Speaker; Mary O’Hagan, Resident Director of the National Democratic Institute in Ukraine; and Olga Aivazovska, Head of Ukraine’s
Opora Civil Network
✅  Various videos are shown depicting controversial voting methods in the Ukrainian parliament, including parliament members taking part in
so-called “piano voting”
✅  The future of the current Ukrainian parliament is discussed, including short and long term goals. 

One of the first topics addressed in this special is the need for the development of party unity in the Ukrainian parliament, as well as the need for compromise. In Ukraine, compromise can often have a bad connotation, however, the panel mentions how compromise is necessary in order for governments to function. As Ukraine is in the early stages of party formation, it has been difficult for it to achieve party cohesion. Often, it is easy for younger governments to become polarized. In contrast to the young Ukrainian parliament, Switzerland has a very old and well established parliament. The panel contrasts the two parliaments and discusses how Ukraine can fight party polarization. 

The special shows various videos taken of the Ukrainian parliament. One video in particular shows members in parliament voting for their neighbors in their absence.  This type of voting, or “piano voting” is discussed in length, including how large of a problem “piano voting” is in Ukraine. The panel notes that “piano voting” is not a uniquely Ukrainian issue, but it does represent a failure by the members of parliament to take responsibility for the parliament’s reputation.

Decision making in the Ukrainian parliament is discussed. The current processes of member voting are discussed as well, and the question of whether and how often members vote party over conscience is addressed. Various voting methods in the current Ukrainian parliament are controversial, with many practices currently considered unregulated and undisciplined. The panel discusses these voting methods and addresses how decisions can and should be made in parliament. One problem addressed by the panel is the lack of discussion in parliament on certain topics, particularly controversial issues related to the conflict in the East. Furthermore, the panel discusses goals for the future to create a more disciplined parliament system. 

The panel also discusses the current stresses that the Ukrainian government is functioning under. The difficulty of operating under the conditions of an economic crisis and an external threat is discussed by the panel. It is important to note that the current Ukrainian government has been operating for quite some time in a state of emergency. The panel addresses how these difficulties can be overcome. The panel concludes that patience is needed in order to transfer to a better regulated, more disciplined parliament in the future. 

Finally, populism is discussed in detail, including populism as it currently exists in Switzerland and the United States. How populism should be dealt with as a global phenomenon is addressed? How to deal with populism in Ukraine?