Beyond developing new mechanisms to encourage engagement of those already interested in parliamentary action, parliaments must also seek to reach constituencies that are less engaged in parliamentary work, particularly those in historically marginalized communities. In some countries, as in Romania, parliaments have adopted electoral rules that aim to ensure the participation of marginalized or minority groups (Protsyk, 2010a). Others seek to demonstrate symbolic respect for minorities, by, for instance, flying a minority flag (Protsyk, 2010b). But encouraging historically marginalized groups to participate in parliamentary work can be aided by the adoption of routinized practices for conducting outreach and engagement of these groups.
- Conduct targeted outreach to marginalized communities, i.e., through school outreach programs intended to advance civic education.
- Use non-official languages to include minority populations, or conduct hearings in non-official languages on issues that are of interest to a particular minority community (such as immigration reform) that does not speak the official language.
- Engage in targeted outreach to youth to engage them more directly in political life through legislator back to school programs, youth parliaments or other activities seeking to engage the youth in political decision making.
- Assess particular challenges for a person of average means to enter parliament as a representative, and take affirmative actions to ensure equality of opportunity for a country’s citizens to serve in the legislature.
- Explore creative processes, such as citizen juries, to amplify voices that might not otherwise be able to contribute to legislative debate.