On January 31-February 3, 2019 the Caucasus Institute held a four-day Mock Parliament based on the best practices used so far and adjusted to Armenia’s realities, with the support from the US Department of State Democracy Commission Small Grants Program. The main goal of the project was to build a platform for young Armenians to enrich their knowledge and understanding of the new Armenian parliamentary system of governance, and build their capacity to understand, discuss and lobby legislation.
The main goal of the project was to build a platform for young Armenians to enrich their knowledge and understanding of the new Armenian parliamentary system of governance, and build their capacity to understand, discuss and lobby legislation.
The participants involved 10 bachelors, 9 postgraduate students and PhD, 12 master students and MAs, 9 civil society activists and 2 media representatives. In the framework of an interactive educational game format they put themselves in the shoes of the members of parliament and government. They engaged in the elaboration of draft laws and amendments to laws, discussions of draft laws in various formats, teamwork within factions and negotiations among factions using a set of rules and procedures.
During the game the participants gained new skills in rhetoric, negotiations, team work, learned to present and defend positions that differ from their own, and to make decisions taking into account different approaches to the same issues. They became aware of the challenges and complexity of decision-making, the responsibility of decision-makers, and started to look at decision-makers with new eyes. They attained better understanding of how parliament works and reassessed the importance of laws and how they affect people and social groups.
After the game the project team conducted training of trainers. During three days, 10 participants joined the project team to sum up the results of the game, analyze its advantages and shortcomings, clarify the questions the participants had in regard to legislative process, their performance in terms of commitment to ideological platforms of the parties they were representing, and, finally, to come up with their recommendations on improvement of the format. The TOT consisted of three parts – one on the history of parliamentary system of government, the other – on political ideologies and their transformation in Armenia and the world, and the last one – on the format of the game, its advantages and disadvantages and recommendations for improvement of the format.
Based on the results of the game, the TOT and the responses to the feedback form filled out by the participants, the project team elaborated a toolkit for future organizers of similar activities. It is a guide that provides instructions, involving the CI experience, starting from the very selection of the participants till the voting to elect the winners. The guide is available in hard copy at the office of the Caucasus Institute and online.