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Forum to promote open parliaments kicks off in New Taipei

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Legislative Speaker You Si-kun receives a delegation of Kosovo parliamentary group led by Avdullah Hoti, who served as the prime minister of Kosovo from June 2020 to March 2021, on March 14. (CNA photo)

New Taipei, March 14 (CNA) European lawmakers joined representatives from foreign and local NGOs in New Taipei Tuesday for a forum on promoting parliamentary transparency and democratic consolidation.

The Parliamentary Openness and Monitoring Forum is being co-hosted by the Taipei-based Citizen Congress Watch (CCW), the Washington-headquartered National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the U.K. public body Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Several European lawmakers have joined civil societies from Taiwan and overseas to take part in the two-day event, including Avdullah Hoti and Arbereshe Kryeziu Hyseni from Kosovo, Catalin D. Tenita from Romania, and Arta Bilalli Zendeli and Nikola Micevsk from North Macedonia.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, NDI Chief Program Officer Stephanie Rust underlined the importance of parliaments opening up legislative processes to the public and engaging with citizens and civil society groups.

Transparency and civic participation are "essential strategies" to counter the attempts of autocratic governments to undermine democratic institutions, Rust said.

She noted that the share of the world's population living under autocracies had increased to 72 percent in 2022 from 46 percent a decade earlier, citing the latest report by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg.

Speaking in the same vein, Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) said that countries "in the democratic alliance" must work together to confront the various threats of authoritarians regimes.

The speaker went on to say that in recent years, Taiwan had been on the frontline of defending against authoritarianism, combatting the spread of fake news, cyberattacks, and economic sanctions, among others.

At the same time, You said, the country's Legislature had worked to promote parliamentary openness and monitoring by the public in line with the Taiwan Open Parliament Action Plan from 2021-2024 adopted in the Legislature in 2020.

The aim is to make the Legislature not only a venue for government officials and lawmakers, but also a platform where the public can take part in political affairs and express opinions, according to You.

With that in mind, an online platform allowing people to propose petitions for legislation will enter into service soon, You said, without specifying when it would officially be launched.

The platform seeks to "provide more opportunities for the public to take part in the operations of the Legislature," You added.

According to a directive approved by You in 2021, the Legislature will have to make an official response to a petition once it passes the threshold of 10,000 signatures within 60 days of its being launched.

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