A democratic world parliament is possible, study concludes

14. octubre 2009

A study published today by the Committee for a Democratic U.N. draws the conclusion that there are realistic models for the establishment of a democratic world parliament. The background paper on "the composition of a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations" which was released by the Berlin-based independent think tank explores four different models for the distribution of seats in a future global parliament. The analysis draws upon the example of the European Parliament and suggests some key principles such as "degressive proportionality" according to which small states would get relatively more and large states relatively fewer seats. "The world population is distributed extremely unequally among the world's states. Any realistic model needs to alleviate this imbalance. Our analysis illustrates that this is feasible and justified," says Andreas Bummel, the Committee's chairman and author of the study.

According to Mr Bummel there is a "common misjudgement" that there is only one option for the composition of a world parliament, namely exactly according to the share of the various countries in the world population. "This improper assumption gives rise to wide-spread fears that a global parliament would necessarily be dominated by a few populous countries and, even worse, that a majority of seats would be controlled by authoritarian regimes," says Bummel. As the study claims, the models discussed therein reveal that "these assumptions are not substantiated."

According to the paper a basic feature of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) would be that its membership "would not be state-based" but instead be composed of "autonomous delegates". These delegates initially could be chosen "from within and by existing political groups or parties constituted in national legislative branches." All models discussed in the study assume that all UN member states would participate and provide for a minimum number of two seats for each country in order to guarantee "that the majority and minority from each national parliament are represented." Otherwise different formulas are applied to distribute the seats among the countries. Two of the models are primarily based on population size while two others also consider a country's share in the total UN budget in order to take economic strength into account. The total number of seats in the models varies between 675 and 809.

"We have used the data included in the survey of freedom and democracy which is conducted by Freedom House to calculate how many delegates would come from countries which are considered electoral democracies. In all models it is a clear majority. The lowest percentage is 56.9 and the highest 67.1," says Bummel. As the study states, "it is possible to conclude that a majority of seats in a UNPA could be held by delegates from democracies."