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Constitutional Rights of the Opposition

Democracy Reporting International 20714Constitutional Rights of the Opposition
Publié le 01-04-2016. Ajoutée le 11 November 2016

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The parliamentary opposition is essential to democracy. It offers political alternatives to the public and provides accountability and oversight of the government. To be effective the opposition needs a robust constitutional-legal framework. Many constitutions guarantee a number of opposition rights, including equal treatment of parliamentarians, access to and coverage in the media, effective mechanisms for government scrutiny and control, judicial review of laws, and full participation in parliament’s work.

Parliamentary opposition rights can be found at different levels of the legal hierarchy and are often detailed in parliamentary Rules of Procedure. But because Rules of Procedure can be more easily amended, constitutionalising the status and rights of the opposition provides a better guarantee for such rights. Constitutional protection of opposition rights can be either implicit, by granting rights to all parliamentarians, or explicit, by granting rights to the “opposition” as such, as in some constitutions.

For new democracies in search of ways to reinforce a pluralistic multi-party system, constitutionmakers may wish to explore the option of explicit opposition rights in the constitution.

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