Do Legislative Petitions Systems Enhance the Relationship between Parliament and Citizen?
Despite a long history, petitioning parliament is widely considered to be ineffective. With a view to enhancing their effectiveness, a number of legislatures have recently conducted reviews of their petitions systems. This article explores the outcomes of these reviews. It also considers the function of legislative petitions systems, what makes an effective system and, ultimately, what impact legislative petitions systems have on policy outcomes. In terms of their role, it is suggested that petitions systems perform three broad functions: providing a link between parliament and citizen; informing policy development and executive scrutiny; and, ultimately, affecting policy change. The extent to which existing petitions systems perform each of these functions varies considerably. The importance of petitioning extends beyond simply delivering requests made by individual petitioners and, regardless of the outcome of individual petitions, it is possible for a petitions system to enhance the relationship between parliament and citizen.
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