What is Parliament?

Parliament is the supreme legislative body in a parliamentary system of government, representing the citizens’ interests, making laws, and overseeing the government’s work. It plays a crucial role in shaping democracy and governance, ensuring that elected officials reflect the will of the people they serve.

The Structure and Functions of Parliament

Composition of Parliament

Parliament typically consists of two houses: an upper house (often called the Senate or House of Lords) and a lower house (commonly known as the House of Representatives or House of Commons). The specific names and roles of these houses vary by country, but generally, the lower house is directly elected by the people and holds significant legislative power, while the upper house may be appointed, elected differently, or inherit positions and serves as a revising chamber.

The Lower House

The lower house is usually the primary legislative body, responsible for proposing, debating, and voting on new laws. Members of the lower house are elected to represent specific geographic constituencies and reflect the political composition of the electorate.

The Upper House

The upper house acts as a review body, providing oversight and revision to legislation passed by the lower house. Its composition is designed to offer a broader perspective, often representing different interest groups or regions within a country.

Legislative Process

The legislative process in parliament involves several stages, including the proposal, debate, committee review, and voting on bills. Both houses must typically agree on the final text of a bill before it becomes law, although the specific process can vary, with the lower house often having the final say on financial and budgetary matters.

Oversight and Accountability

One of Parliament’s key roles is to hold the government accountable for its actions and decisions. This is achieved through various means, including question periods, debates, and committee inquiries, where government officials are called to explain and justify their policies and conduct.

The Role of Parliament in Democracy

Parliament serves as the cornerstone of democratic governance, ensuring that the will of the people is represented in the government’s decision-making processes.


Parliamentarians represent the interests and concerns of their constituents, acting as a bridge between the public and the government. This representation ensures that diverse voices and perspectives are considered in the formulation of laws and policies.


As the primary legislative body, Parliament’s role in crafting, debating, and enacting laws is central to the functioning of a democratic society. Laws passed by Parliament regulate societal behavior, establish standards, and allocate resources to fulfill public needs.

Oversight of the Executive

Parliamentary oversight of the executive branch ensures that the government remains accountable for its actions and adheres to the law. This function includes scrutinizing government spending, policies, and administration, contributing to transparency and good governance.

Challenges and Critiques

While Parliament is a fundamental democratic institution, it faces challenges and critiques related to representation, efficiency, and transparency. Issues such as partisan gridlock, underrepresentation of minority groups, and the influence of special interests can undermine its effectiveness and public trust.

Enhancing Parliamentary Democracy

Efforts to enhance parliamentary democracy focus on reforming electoral systems, increasing public engagement, and improving transparency and accountability mechanisms. Innovations in technology and citizen participation are also being explored to strengthen the connection between Parliament and the public.

The Pillar of Governance

In conclusion, Parliament stands as a pillar of governance in a democratic system, embodying the principles of representation, accountability, and the rule of law. Its functions extend beyond lawmaking to include oversight of the government and representation of the public’s diverse interests and views. As societies evolve, so too must their parliamentary institutions, adapting to new challenges and opportunities to ensure that they continue to serve the needs and aspirations of their citizens effectively. The ongoing vitality of Parliament as an institution depends on its ability to reflect the will of the people, adapt to changing times, and maintain the trust and confidence of the public it serves.