Key findings: The impacts of parliamentary and party support have not received much analysis; there are a few rigorous evaluations, but significant evidence gaps remain. The existing evaluations are non-experimental short-term studies, which use case studies, interviews and literature reviews as their analysis methods. In general, they emphasise processes, outcomes and activities, rather than the specific impacts of parliamentary and party programmes.
The limitations have been attributed to a number of factors. Firstly, evaluations of socio-political processes are notoriously difficult to conduct, because democratic change is essentially ‘domestically driven’ and occurs over a long period of time. Secondly, there is a lack of consensus surrounding what is considered to be an impact. Thirdly, the design of party and parliamentary programmes can undermine impact evaluations. Programmes are often orientated around capacity building activities, which have a narrow set of indicators and inadequate monitoring and evaluation frameworks.
Commonly articulated impacts of parliamentary and party assistance programmes include:
- improvements in the use of information technology and communications, for example through the creation of parliamentary websites or active use of intranet websites (e.g. Benin, Morocco, Azerbaijan);
- an enhanced scrutinising role of parliamentary committees, evidenced in an increase in the number of questions submitted on bills (e.g. Niger, Benin);
- improvement in the functioning of parliamentary committees (e.g. Pakistan, Senegal);
- increase in the use of oversight procedures, such as formal questions (or interpellations) and commissions of inquiry (e.g. Niger).