MPs from “Ak Zhol” party sent to the Government a draft law on “parliamentary opposition” that received a positive conclusion before from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights OSCE
“Ak zhol” party Press Service, January 13, 2014.
Mps from “Ak Zhol” party sent to the Government a draft law on “parliamentary opposition” that was developed by the party and received a positive conclusion from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights OSCE. According to the requirements of the legislation, drafts law introduced on the initiative of the MPs should obtain the conclusion of the Government before introducing in the Parliament.
In accordance with the draft, it is introduced a definition of the Parliamentary Opposition as political parties that have groups in the Mazhilis of the Parliament and openly opposing the policy of the parliamentary majority and the current government.
The draft law is proposed to define the rights of the parliamentary opposition, in particular:
– To nominate their MPs on the positions of Deputy Chairman of the Mazhilis, as well as two committee chairmen;
– To nominate their members of the party on the positions of deputy ministers of social and economic issues;
– To nominate their members of the party on the position of Chairman and member of the Accounts Committee for control over execution of the republican budget;
– To initiate parliamentary hearings and investigations on observance of civil freedoms, investigate the circumstances associated with large-scale emergencies;
– To obtain any information from the public authorities, as well as free access to all the officials and all the objects on the issues related to the performance of official duties;
– On Guaranteed speech of the representative of the parliamentary faction of the parliamentary opposition during plenary sessions of the Mazhilis and the joint sessions of the Parliament, etc.
The bill proposes to regulate issues on coverage of the activity of parliamentary opposition in the media through the requirement to publish in the state media materials about the activities of the parliamentary opposition parties in an equal volume with the ruling party.
“Ak Zhol” party proposes in this bill to establish a guarantee of independence of the legislative initiative of the parliamentary opposition. According to the draft law, government censorship on proposals of MPs from the opposition to the draft laws submitted by the Government and considered by the Mazhilis is strictly prohibited.
In these purposes is not allowed to sent on the harmonization (conclusion) of the Government changes and additions introduced by the MPs of the parliamentary opposition, except in matters affecting the execution of the current budget.
In addition, the party “Ak Zhol” offers to provide the parliamentary opposition the right to make alternative draft laws of the same laws that are sent from the government, without the approval procedure with the government (as the position of the government on this issue is already set out).
The bill proposes to consolidate the funding of the parliamentary opposition parties must be at least 50% of the funding allocated to the ruling party, etc.
On the necessity of adopting a special law “On the Parliamentary opposition” shows the experience of countries with traditional democracy. In democracy, the parliamentary opposition is an important participant of the political process. Number of rules of the proposed bill follows directly from the international experience.
For example, in the UK the largest opposition party (the second from the parliamentary elections), is referred to as “Her Majesty’s Opposition”. The members of this party monitor the activities of the government in specific areas and offer alternative programs.
In Canada, the opposition party that occupies the largest number of seats in the House (after the majority party) is called the “official opposition”. Official Opposition during the debates has the right to speak directly behind the main speaker from the majority party, the speeches of the opposition leader is not limited.
In domestic practice, unfortunately, there are examples when during the discussions of the government report on the budget of one of the joint session of the Parliament, the word was given only to the MPs from the ruling party. At the beginning of a critical speech of the “Ak Zhol” faction leader his microphone was turned off and the speech was interrupted by the previous speaker’s proposal to close the debate.
In Europe, the rules relating to the role of opposition parties in a democratic parliament, are reflected in the Resolution #1601 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from 2008, and in the Report of the Commission for Democracy through Law (“Venice Commission”) on the role of the opposition in a democratic parliament, the Portuguese law on the opposition, etc.
For example, in the European tradition, the work of parliamentary committees and special bodies (Accounts Committees), controlling the target and effective execution of the state budget, in many countries is headed by representatives of the parliamentary opposition.
Standards and requirements that are proposed in this bill, except using of international experience, also come from domestic practice. Thus, introducing an outright ban on the “government censorship” is connected with the fact of sending for the government conclusion and subsequent refusal (on obtained negative conclusions) of amendments of MPs from “Ak Zhol”, although such a conclusion, according to the Constitution, was not required. Press service of the party during the work of the faction in the parliament has repeatedly reported on such cases.
Norms of equality of parliamentary parties in the state media coverage are associated with the current trend of preferential coverage of the ruling party. At the same time, the experience of the election campaigns showed the effectiveness and relevance of equal coverage of all parties in the press, to ensure fairness and equality as the most important principles of democracy.
The proposal of the bill on legislative securing of funding levels of the parliamentary opposition is dictated by the national experience to possible manipulations. Unfortunately, after the formation of the multiparty Parliament in 2012 the volumes of financing of the parliamentary parties were sharply reduced by 2.5 times. Although the whole period (during the financial crisis) the ruling party received funding 2.5 times more as the only one in the parliament. Obviously, this situation does not encourage the development of a multiparty system.
The draft law has received a positive opinion of experts of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued from March 28, 2013 № 120/03/2012.
It should be noted that in the majority of developed democracies special laws “On the parliamentary opposition” are not widely spread, and the relevant rules rely more on tradition and recorded in various other laws and regulations. At the same time, taking into account the domestic situation and the aforementioned acts of international law (Resolution № 1601 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from 2008, the Report of the Venice Commission for Democracy through Law, etc.), the adoption of this bill seems justified and appropriate.
The draft law aims to further democratization of the Republic of Kazakhstan, development and strengthening of parliamentarism, more transparency and accountability of the government activity to parliamentary institutions.
The submitted bill “On parliamentary opposition” is developed to meet the requirements of the Constitution and does not contradict the Basic Law.
Its adoption would be a step in the formation of a presidential-parliamentary vector of statehood development under the current Constitution