Yemen Parliament Watch

Year established: 2009

The Yemen Parliament Watch project aims to enhance the capacity of the Yemeni parliament by providing a central hub of information and data for members of parliament, concerned civil society organizations, journalists, and citizens. The ultimate goal of this project, implemented by the Yemen Polling Center (YPC) is to support the parliament and develop communication between MPs and voters in particular, and all citizens in general.

Problems and Purpose

The Republic of Yemen, as one of the countries affected most by the regional upheavals of 2011, is currently facing difficult times. The transition process initiated in November 2011 failed and since March 2015 the population is experiencing the consequences of civil war and military intervention. Although the Yemeni state can be described as collapsed, YPC is convinced that political institutions such as the parliament will be crucial in post-war reconstruction efforts.

However, there is a deep mistrust within society towards Yemen’s states institutions. In a YPC survey conducted amongst Yemeni youth activists for instance, 92% stated that Parliament does not respect democracy. The current parliament does not only lack legitimacy because its term has expired  in 2011, while elections have been continuously postponed, but also because of its lack of transparency and the lack of awareness of its function amongst the Yemeni population.

This lack of public awareness decreases the ability of civil society organizations and the citizenry as a whole to effectively lobby for the implementation of citizens’ political, as well as human rights. The low level of awareness is also reflected in the nature of the relationship between an MP and his constituency. A gap is created following each round of elections when communication channels between both sides become non-existent as the newly elected MPs move to Sana’a to take up their posts. Given such a gap in communication, many MPs lack knowledge about the problems, interests, and opinions of the citizens of their constituency.

YPC believes that it is important to enable the citizenry to hold government institutions accountable, and to make government institutions more responsive to the needs of the people. Only then can popular trust in state institutions be built. For this reason, the Yemen Parliament Watch project works closely with journalists and youth activists in order to better inform the public about the proceedings and functions of the parliament. At the same time, the project monitors and publishes activities of MPs, such as attendance lists, in order to enhance their role as people’s representatives.

History and Funding

The Yemen Parliament Watch project is implemented by YPC, an NGO founded in 2004 to conduct public opinion research and advocate for the closer integration of public opinion into the policy making process. The Yemen Parliament Watch was first established by YPC in 2009, when parliamentary elections were scheduled to be held. The goal of the project was therefore, in the context of an elected body in an emerging democracy, to enhance the capacity of parliamentarians to fulfill their duties as elected representatives. At the same time, the goal of the project was to build the capacities of civil society, particularly women and journalists, to actively report on and engage with parliament. The first phase of the project (2009-2011) was financed by the European Union’s Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.

The second phase of the project (2012-2014) was financed by the Middle East Partnership Initiative and aimed particularly at establishing institutionalized communication channels to parliament for youth and journalists. In this phase, both the Youth Lobby Group and the Yemen Association for Parliamentary Journalists were founded as independent entities to communicate with and monitor the activities of parliamentarians.

Project Outputs

While the most important components of the Yemen Parliament Watch are capacity building trainings, the website offers a number of outputs. Not only does the website allow for citizens to ask questions to parliamentarians, but it also serves as an information hub, as it publishes session reports, attendance lists and parliamentarian’s profiles. The website of the Yemen Parliament Watch is more comprehensive than the website of the parliament itself. It has thus become the primary source of information regarding the Yemeni parliament. It also publishes regular Parliament Performance Reports, which are available both in Arabic and English.


Hafez Albukari: