About Parline

Parline is the reference point for authoritative data on the parliaments of the world. It comprises 600+ data points for every country where there is a functioning parliament. Parline is produced with the cooperation of national parliaments, who provide and check the data through a network of  Parline Correspodents.

  • Getting started
  • Highlights
  • What data is in Parline?
  • How is Parline organized?
  • Who uses Parline?
  • More about Parline
  • History
  • Methodology

Watch the video for a quick overview of Parline and how to navigate the database.

Highlights

Parline offers:

  • Worldwide coverage: Every national parliament, big or small
  • Comparative data: Creating possibilities for new perspectives on parliaments
  • Authoritative data: Direct from the source – parliaments themselves
  • Tools: Allowing users to access, obtain and reuse data freely

The IPU’s monthly ranking of the percentage of women in parliament is the most widely used resource on Parline and the basis for the IPU-UN Women: Women in Politics map. Check how your country is ranked! The country-by-country ranking is complemented by global and regional averages that have been updated every month since 1997.

How do parliaments compare in terms of size, powers, openness and other characteristics? The compare pages provide maps and charts showing data in comparative perspective. Browse through them and surprise yourself! Which are the biggest and smallest parliaments? Which parliaments publish draft legislation online? Which parliaments have a register of accredited lobbyists?

What data is in Parline?

There are 600+ data fields housed in Parline – broadly covering representation, oversight and law-making, parliamentary autonomy and working methods, parliamentary elections / renewals, and thematic data on women, youth and certain parliamentary committees ("specialized bodies").

Historical time-series data is gathered for certain data points. Dates are demarcated by “year-month” (e.g. 2018-10 stands for “valid as of October 2018”). On chamber pages, click on the historical data icon to view the information for a given data point. 

80+ data points can be compared across all chambers for which there is information, in the Compare data on parliaments section. See the list of data fields included.

Tip: If you see “not available” on chamber pages, click on the historical data icon to view the latest information for a given data point.

Information in Parline is updated daily and is always changing. Scroll to the bottom of the homepage to see some of the latest new features or information added.

How is Parline organized?

Data about national parliaments is the foundation of Parline.

Every parliamentary chamber has its own page. On chamber pages, data is presented in seven sections covering the different aspects of each parliamentary chamber's composition, structure and functioning.

  1. Basic information
  2. Elections
  3. Parliamentary mandate
  4. Law-making, oversight and budget
  5. Working methods
  6. Administration
  7. Specialized bodies

Chamber pages also have thematic sections on women and youth for each chamber.

Information on chamber pages is provided by parliaments. The quality of information available can vary from one chamber to another.

Data on national parliaments is aggregated in different ways and places:

All sections of Parline and data tools can be accessed from the main navigation bar. Chamber pages can also be accessed via the top right-hand corner search bar or the quick access “Select country and chamber” link on the homepage.

Who uses Parline? 

The Parline database is widely used and referenced by parliaments, policymakers and researchers. It is the official source of data for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators 5.5.1 and 16.7.1(a).

Parline users fall into various categories with differing requirements. Broadly, they include: 

  • Parliaments – International relations departments use Parline for up-to-date contact information and changes to parliamentary leadership (Speakers, Secretaries General), and for preparing background information and briefings for bilateral and parliamentary visits. Libraries and research services or staff of parliamentary committees use Parline to conduct topical research to inform their work or draw comparisons between the functions and working methods of other parliaments.
  • Researchers, students, academics – are big consumers of comparative data and often utilize specific data points from Parline to draw a correlation between larger trends, outcomes or behaviors. For example, a comparison of electoral systems, special measures for women's representation in parliament, or the percentage of women in parliaments. 
  • International organizations – The United Nations uses Parline data as part of the global SDG indicators to monitor the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A variety of other international organsations also use Parline data. For example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) uses Parline data in their annual “Government at a Glance” report and Social Institutions and Gender Index, while the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the World Bank integrate Parline data into their Index of African Governance (IIAG) and World Development Indicators, respectively. Bodies such as the UN Electoral Affairs Division (DPPA), among others, use Parline data to prepare their missions and reports.
           Examples of reports that cite Parline data: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Global companies – use Parline data in, for example, their political risk analysis reports.
  • Journalists – use Parline data to support stories that they are preparing on, for example, salaries of parliamentarians, size of parliamentary staff, etc., or to provide statistical snapshots of given information, derived from aggregated data and maps and charts generated in the Compare data on parliaments section.

The IPU always wants to learn more about how, what and where Parline data is used. This supports our efforts to improve the database to meet the needs of users, and to better understand the impact of Parline. Feel free to contact parline@ipu.org to share feedback on data points and/or past, ongoing or current research that utilizes Parline data. In the future, there may be an opportunity for the IPU to feature select work.

Regional groupings in Parline

A list of regional groupings can be consulted on this site. The regional and sub-regional groupings of countries are based on IPU practice.

Downloading data

Parline offers lots of ways to visualize, compare and download data. Look for the XLS and CSV icons which indicate that data can be downloaded in Excel or CSV. In the Compare data on parliaments section, you can download datasets that compare information across all chambers (for which there is data) for 80+ data fields and for various years.

Currently, it is not possible to download all data points combined for an individual chamber or parliament. Export of historical data is also limited to individual data points found on chamber pages. 

In the future, we plan to make the database available as open data via an application programming interface (API) so that third parties can automatically access and reuse IPU data on parliaments.

Sharing data

Simply click on “Share” to a send a link to a given Parline page by email or to post on social media, via Twitter or Facebook.

Want a map of every parliament subject to a freedom of information law? How about a chart aggregating data on electoral systems used to elect parliaments around the world? It's easy – by saving a PNG image of any of the maps and charts generated for the 80+ data fields housed in the Compare data on parliaments section. 

Please acknowledge the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Parline database (data.ipu.org) when referencing, sharing or facilitating access to the datasets. See the IPU's Terms of Use for more details.

Data for SDG indicators 5.5.1(a) and 16.7.1(a)

Parliaments play a central role in fostering responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making. The IPU is the custodian of SDG indicators 5.5.1(a) on women in parliament and 16.7.1(a) on decision-making positions in parliament. Data used for these indicators is stored in Parline and contributes to global monitoring of progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

SDG indicator 16.7.1(a) tracks the age and sex of members of parliament (MPs), Speakers, and the chairs of five parliamentary committees (foreign affairs, defence, finance, gender equality, and human rights) represented in national parliaments. This comparison allows the IPU to produce both a “youth ratio” and “women’s ratio” to determine how proportional parliamentary representation (and its leadership) is in relation to its national population. Ratios offer a more contextualized picture of proportional representation in that some countries may have younger populations than others, for instance, and the age of eligibility can vary from as young as 18 years of age to 45 years of age for some chambers.

Take a look at the sex and/or age breakdown of Speakers, Secretaries General, the monthly ranking and global and regional rankings of women in parliament. On individual chamber pages, check out the age and sex of MPs by consulting the “Data on women” and “Data on youth” sections, or of committee chairs via the specialized bodies section in the left-hand menu.

For more information on data collection and computation of ratios, please see:

For the UN’s global SDG database, please see https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/indicators/database/.

A bit of history

The IPU has been publishing comparative data on parliaments since at least the 1960s. Initially in print format, this data has since 1996 been published in the Parline database on the IPU website. The name “Parline” is derived from the words “PARliaments onLINE”. 

The latest version of Parline was unveiled in September 2018 and is a radical overhaul of the IPU’s previous databases. It brings together, for the first time, IPU data on the structure and functioning of parliaments, data on women in parliament, and data on youth in parliament. A new technical platform has made it possible to keep historical records of changes via time‑series, as well as vastly improved capacity to compare data across parliaments. Parline continues to evolve to take into account user feedback and needs. 

Data collection

Parliaments are always the IPU’s first port of call for Parline data. Over the years, the IPU has established systems with parliaments to collect and verify data. A network of Parline Correspondents was initiated in April 2019 whereby each parliament or chamber designates a correspondent(s) to proactively inform the IPU of any changes relevant to their Parline data.

Around half of the 600+ data fields are collected through a series of questionnaires completed and submitted by Parline Correspondents and other focal points in parliaments. Data for annually updated fields are collected via the annual activities questionnaire, while data for fields updated after every election/renewal are collected in the post-election questionnaire.

Around 20% of data fields are actively monitored and updated every time there is a change – for instance -- the sex, age and appointment/election of Speakers and Secretaries General, and the number of women in parliament. All other fields are reviewed at periodic intervals and updated on a rolling basis.

IPU also collects data from from other credible sources (e.g. constitutional or legal references, parliamentary websites). A limited number of data fields are populated with information derived from the World Bank (e.g. PPP conversion factor) and the United Nations (e.g. population data).

Data coverage and quality assurance

Data coverage is contingent upon information supplied by parliaments. Some parliaments have robust in-house library and research services, and others operate with very small Secretariats that may not regularly collect and monitor the data requested for Parline.

The IPU attempts to present data that is consistent in definition, timing and methods. However, differences in timing and reporting practices of parliaments can sometimes lead to inconsistencies among data. Also, it is difficult to apply a universal definition to certain concepts as working methods and terminology employed by parliaments vary (e.g. “emergency legislation” or “parliamentary inquiries”). In so far as possible, explanatory notes accompany the data where needed.

Before data is published, quality controls are carried out by the IPU including by comparing new data with historical records for a given country and among countries and with publicly available information. In the case of any inconsistencies, a dialogue is opened with the parliament to clarify and, where necessary, correct the data. In addition, parliaments are invited to review all of their data on Parline at regular intervals – at least annually and following elections.