The following principles, which are derived from
the reports and the practice of the Assembly in connection with
the verification of national delegations’ credentials, apply when
an assessment is being made as to whether political parties or groups
are “fairly represented” in national delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly:
6.1 As “fair” is not specifically
as such defined in the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, it is reasonable to
use the usual meaning: honest, impartial, just, equitable, non-discriminatory,
when examining the question of a “fair representation”.
6.2 It is the national parliaments that decide upon the composition
of their delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly. As there are
no standardised procedures for national parliaments to appoint delegations
to the Assembly, the parliaments’ political discretion must, in
general, be respected. The Assembly should avoid becoming involved
in a detailed analysis of the political composition of a delegation.
6.3 Parliaments’ decisions on appointments must respect national
procedural rules and be, on the whole, fair, that is, honest, impartial,
just, equitable, non-discriminatory. The national procedural rules should
also be in accordance with the Council of Europe’s fundamental values
(rule of law, respect for human rights and pluralistic democracy).
6.4 On the basis of information received from parliaments
on the methods used to allocate seats on their delegation, the Assembly
assesses merely whether the representation of the political groups
of the parliament is fair, not whether it is proportionate.
6.5 According to Rule 6.2.a of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure,
each national parliament informs the Assembly of the methods used
to appoint seats on the delegation. The Assembly’s Table Office examines
the credentials of the delegation from a procedural point of view
before forwarding them to the Assembly (or the Standing Committee)
6.6 In case of difficulties, the Table Office may seek clarification
from the secretariat of the national delegation concerned. The Table
Office informs the President of the Assembly if there is a potential problem
which needs to be addressed.
6.7 Both representatives and substitutes are taken into account
when determining the political balance of a national delegation
in order to assess “fair representation”.
6.8 In the case of bicameral parliaments, fair representation
is assessed at the level of the delegation as a whole (not the members
of each chamber).
6.9 Parliaments with many political groups but with a limited
number of seats in the Assembly may justifiably invoke difficulties
in fulfilling the condition of “fair representation” (Rule 6.2.a:
“Insofar as the number of their members allows ...”).
6.10 Where a parliament is made up mostly of two major political
groups, representing the majority and the opposition, and several
very small opposition parties, it is preferable not to distribute
the seats equally among the two “bigger” groups but to include other
groups in the delegation to make it more pluralistic. For the duration
of the legislature, the possibility of annually rotating membership
of the delegation may be considered for small political groups.
6.11 Where there are problems appointing the members of a delegation,
the political group(s) supporting the government might be asked
to make “compromise efforts”, in particular to promote a better
representation of the opposition. Candidates proposed by a political
group should in general be accepted as members – representatives
or substitutes – if they meet the criteria of the national procedural
6.12 If, because of the limited number of seats of a delegation
and the small size of the opposition parties, it is not possible
to appoint at least one member of the opposition as a representative
on the delegation, it should be ensured that opposition members
who are substitutes can travel to Strasbourg and that they are given
the opportunity to replace representatives on their delegation for
Parliamentary Assembly sessions.