Parliament of Montenegro should open direct channels of communication with citizens through social networks

The Parliament of Montenegro is the most transparent legislative power in the region but there are still significant issues this institution must deal with in order to achieve international standards of openness and accountability. Within Regional index of openness of legislative power and in cooperation with partners from Action See network, CDT measured openness of parliaments in Montenegro and the region. The research was conducted in the period from October to December 2016 and based on its results a set of recommendations and guidelines for improving openness of institutions was prepared.

The result of Montenegrin Parliament, 85% of fulfilled criteria of openness, indicates on committed work of the current and previous convocations of the Parliament. This institution publishes all work programs and work reports for the previous three years, texts of law proposals, adopted laws, amendments, and information on public procurements as well. However, specific provisions of the Rules of Procedures must be analyzed in detail and their effectiveness must be reconsidered.

Before all, it is necessary to additionally specify a procedure for scheduling extraordinary sessions since many polemics and lack of clarity have taken place in public. It has happened very often that the Collegium behind door makes decisions which can be at least seen as disputable and which suspend the Rules of Procedure in some parts. Therefore, the Parliament must reconsider the role of the Collegium when it comes to its transparency and competences as soon as possible.

Also, the Code of Conduct which should strengthen dignity and accountability of MPs, dignity of the Parliament as well as the citizens’ trust in this institution is not implemented in an adequate manner and it does not prescribe sanctions for possible violations. The Parliament does not have practice of initiating disciplinary proceedings regarding violations of the Code. Despite expectations, there were deteriorations in this area since adopting the Code of Conduct. Therefore, this act did not fulfil its purpose.

It is necessary to increase transparency of bodies’ performance in order to have a completely transparent system of decision-making in the Parliament. The simplest solution is an introduction of direct internet transmission of working bodies’ sessions but also a more transparent and fast displaying of voting records for all of items.

In the near future the Parliament should open direct channels of communication with citizens through social networks.

A legislative activity of the Parliament must be improved. Law proposed by the Parliament must pass the procedure which would show the influence of law application on citizens’ lives. It is necessary to enhance publishing of budget and final account on the website. Budgetary documents should be published in an open data format.

Regional aspect  

Generally speaking parliaments in the Western Balkan countries fulfil 63% of openness criteria. This result is not satisfactory, taking into account that these bodies are directly elected and accountable to citizens.

Monitoring determined that parliaments mostly lack transparency when it comes to publishing information on parliamentary committees’ sessions. A majority of parliaments does not publish voting records and a list of MPs who attended committee sessions.

Additionally, in most countries committee sessions do not have audio or video transmission. A majority of parliaments should affirm a principle of financial publicity and openness. Parliaments mostly do not fulfil at least a minimum of international standards of budgetary transparency, which impose that financial documents should be available to public.

Also, parliaments in the region should establish clear mechanisms for monitoring of implementation of MPs Code of Conduct and sanctions for each violation of prescribed ethical standards. Even though the monitoring defined that a set of mechanisms for a parliamentary control of executive power was established, their implementation is most commonly of formal nature. Parliaments should not be places for uncritical adoption of proposals of executive power but places for their reconsideration and effective control.