Glossary of terms

This glossary provides definitions of the key terms used on this website and throughout the Indicators for Democratic Parliaments.

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Term Definition

The level of responsibility and action taken by government actors in line with citizens’ priorities and legal frameworks. Accountability is assured through relationships which allow government and citizens opportunities to engage in two-way feedback. This enables the public to ensure that government actors are responsible, and that they act with integrity, in the interest of public priorities and in line with regulations. Accountability requires the government to acknowledge and take responsibility for decisions, actions and policies in light of agreed expectations, such as a legislative agreement between an elected official and their constituents.

Act of parliament

Usually a law passed (or adopted) by parliament. It is sometimes called a “statute”. In this publication, the term “parliamentary act” may also be used to refer to other regulations, rulebooks or similar operational (and sometimes internal) acts unique to parliament. See also: Law and Legislation.

Ad hoc committee

A committee that may be formed to address a particular issue, subject or event, but that does not have standing responsibilities.


A process aimed at influencing government discussion, procedures and policies. It consists of a set of organized, strategic actions over a period of time, usually guided by civil society and citizens, directed at bringing about change through political participation to address issues.

Affirmative action

A set of policies and practices, within a government or organization, aimed at ensuring better representation or inclusion of particular underrepresented or disadvantaged groups.


The chronological list of all items to be discussed at a formal meeting (including plenary and committee meetings).

All-party group

An informal group formed by MPs, usually from different parties, who share a common interest in a particular policy area, region or country. See also: Caucus and Cross-party group.


A change proposed to the wording of a proposal for a law during its passage through parliament – or to a motion, resolution or committee report – with the intention of improving it or providing an alternative option. Amendments may seek to alter a part of a text by deleting, adding or substituting words or figures in that text. They can usually be tabled by an MP, a group of MPs or a committee.


See: Parliament.


A person or people to whom information is conveyed or messages are directed.


Political independence and self-government. The ability to operate without outside control. The capacity to make an informed, uncoerced decision.