IRI Holds Romanian Mock Parliament Program: Youth Learn How Parliamentarian Write and Pass Laws and Build Consensus

The International Republican Institute (IRI) held a mock parliamentary program November 24-26, 2006, for Romanian youth ages 18 to 26.  The two-day session brought together nearly 150 youth from across Romania to learn how their parliament works and to gain experience in parliamentary procedures.

Chamber of Deputies President Bogdan Olteanu, Chamber of Deputies Vice-President Victor Ponta and Member of Parliament Cosmin Popp all spoke to the youth and participated in the closing day session.

The session began with an official opening ceremony, held on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies and included speeches from members of parliament representing Romania’s political parties and event co-sponsor Pro Democracy Association.  Speakers encouraged the participants to take an active role in their country’s political process.  At the conclusion of the speeches the event was turned over to the youth parliament president.  All the participants were then sworn in taking the same oath of office that parliamentarians take.

With the conclusion of the opening ceremonies, the youth began the work of drafting a passing mock legislation.  Participants were broken up into six committees with 25 members each that mirrored the Romanian Parliament: Committee for Labor and Social Protection; Committee for Public Administration Territorial Integrity and the Environment; Committee on Justice, Discipline and Immunities; Committee on Gender Equality; Special Committee on Electoral Reform; and the Committee on Education.  Each committee debated and amended legislation drafted by parliament participants, Members of Parliament and civil society organizations.  

During the final day, the youth parliamentarians presented their draft legislation to the mock parliament, which was presided over by President Olteanu, Vice-President Ponta and Member Popp.  As each draft bill was brought before the body, the relevant committee president presented the bill to the chamber, summarized the debate of the committee and announced the recommendation of the committee.  The bill then moved into general floor debate and voting.  

The top six participants received jury awards and the top two presenters received a trip to Brussels to represent Romania at the European Union Model Parliament and a month long internship in Secretary General Georgeta Ionescu’s office.  Participants were judged on their effective representation of the views of their assigned party group; their substantive participation in the committees and plenary session, public speaking skills; and cooperation with other participants.  

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