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

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. The list of fields has a list of nearly 100 data points available. 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 and youth. In 2019, the IPU incorporated information on specialized bodies with a mandate to address gender equality and human rights, and in 2020, information on certain parliamentary committees (foreign affairs, defence, and finance). Time-series data is demarcated by “year-month” (e.g. 2018-10 stands for “valid as of October 2018”).

100+ 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 – such as the most recent ranking of women in parliaments, the election or appointment of new Speakers or secretaries general, or other major parliamentary developments.

How is Parline organized?

Data about national parliaments is the foundation of Parline. The database is organized by parliamentary chambers. Seven sections cover 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. Parliamentary bodies

In addition, there are thematic sections on women and youth for each chamber.

Please note that the level of information found may vary by chamber depending on the information provided by parliaments.

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 database is widely used and referenced by parliaments, policymakers and researchers, and is the official source 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 behaviours. 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. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) uses Parline data in their annual “Government at a Glance” report. Bodies such as the UN Electoral Affairs Division (DPPA), among others, use Parline data to prepare their missions and reports.
  • 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 100+ 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. 

The database is available as open data, and offers 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 100+ data fields housed in the Compare data on parliaments section. 

Always remember to credit 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 parliamentary bodies section in the left-hand menu.

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

How often is Parline updated?

The frequency of updates depends on the data point. Parline houses a myriad of time-series data to provide a historical record for users. Annually updated fields can be found in the annual activities questionnaire, while fields updated after every election/renewal can be found in the post-election questionnaire. Data on the sex, age and appointment/election of Speakers and secretaries general is updated every time there is a change. All other fields are reviewed at periodic intervals.

Subscribe to Parline RSS feeds to see when new content is added to Parline.

Data collection & quality assurance

Data is collected directly from national parliaments through a series of questionnaires completed and submitted by them. Before publication, quality controls and “sanity checks” are carried out by the IPU, using comparison against historical records for the same country and comparison between countries. 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 New Parline at regular intervals – at least annually and following elections. Additional data may be included in Parline that has been derived from credible sources (e.g. electoral commissions and constitutional or legal references).

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.