Functioning of state institutions
The role of the opposition in a democratic parliament, its legal rights, concerning in particular the parliamentary supervision and scrutiny of the executive, its relations with the majority and responsibilities have been the subject of a Report adopted in 2011.
The practice of political accountability of governments in the functioning of parliamentary systems within the member states has also been a special point of interest for the Venice Commission. The separation of political accountability and criminal responsibility of ministers in a well-functioning parliamentary system was examined by the Venice Commission in a report adopted in 2013 on the “Relationship between political and criminal ministerial responsibility”. The Commission stressed that criminal procedures should not be used to penalise political mistakes and disagreements.
In this connection, the Commission adopted in 2012 a critical opinion on the practice of blanket resignation of ministers in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In 2014, three opinions of the Commission concerned State institutions. The municipal reform in Azerbaijan raised the concerns of the Commission since some of the proposed amendments put the independence of the bodies of local self-government at risk.
The Commission also examined the new Ukrainian law on lustration. The Commission’s conclusions (which were adopted as an interim opinion) were very critical: without disapproving the idea of lustration as such, the Commission stressed that the law was formulated in overly broad terms which created a risk of abuse and political prosecution. Subsequently, the Commission also assessed the draft amendments to the law on lustration elaborated following its 2014 Opinion.
In addition, the Commission examined, in 2015, the Ukrainian legislative framework pertaining to the prevention of and fight against political corruption, as well as the draft law on integrity checking of persons authorised to perform the functions of state or local government in Ukraine.
The Commission’s work has also extended to other areas such as
In 2013, at the request of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Commission adopted a report on the role of extra-institutional actors in a democratic society (lobbying), providing an overview of strategies to strengthen the democracy-supportive role of such actors. The report was prepared as a contribution to the Committee of Ministers’ assessment of the feasibility of a legal instrument in this field.
Venice Commission documents on democratic institutions
Compilation of Venice Commission Opinions concerning Constitutional and Legal Provisions for the Protection of Local Self-Government - CDL-PI(2016)002 (English only)