246 views | Akanimo Sampson | November 4, 2020
Duarte Pacheco has been elected as the 30th President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) after an unprecedented online election during an extraordinary virtual session of the IPU’s Governing Council, its main decision-making body made up of parliamentarians from around the world.
Pacheco takes over from Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron, a Mexican parliamentarian, who has just concluded her three-year mandate.
Pacheco has been a member of Parliament in Portugal since 1991. He has held different functions in Parliament, including as a member of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Portuguese Communities.
At the IPU, Pacheco has been a member of the Portuguese delegation since 2002 and its head since 2016. He was the Chair of the IPU’s Twelve Plus Geopolitical Group from 2017-2020.
He was also the Vice-President of IPU’s Standing Committee on Peace and International Security from 2014-2016 and Internal Auditor for the IPU in 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2015.
The new IPU President, says, “I believe that the IPU is the ideal forum to reach the goals of success we want for humanity: a world with more equality, social cohesion, peace, better environmental quality, and which can address, in unity, the global challenges we are now facing.”
In a unique example of digital democracy, the IPU Presidential election took place entirely virtually despite technological and time zone challenges. Some 400 parliamentarians from over 140 IPU Member Parliaments were registered to vote electronically during a 24-hour window.
The parliamentarians voted in a secret ballot through a secure online platform. An independent auditor verified the integrity of the election process and outcome. With four candidates on the ballot, the new IPU President was elected with 56 per cent of the vote in a single round of voting.
Prior to the election, a hearing with all four candidates took place on 21 October. The candidates had the opportunity to set forth their vision for the organisation and to answer questions from the wider IPU membership.
In order to encourage gender equality, each IPU Member Parliament had three votes on condition that they had gender-balanced delegations. Single-sex delegations were penalized by only having one vote. Over 40 per cent of voting members were women MPs and 27 per cent were under 45, both records for the IPU.
The IPU Governing Council elects the IPU President for a term of three years. The IPU President must be a sitting Member of Parliament for the duration of his or her term in office.
The IPU President is the political head of the organization who chairs its statutory meetings and represents the organization at global events. Previous IPU Presidents have gone on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Over the past 25 years, the Presidency has been held by prominent parliamentarians from Egypt, Spain, India, Chile, Italy, Namibia, Morocco, Bangladesh, Mexico, and now Portugal.
In other business, the IPU’s Governing Council adopted an IPU budget and programme of work for 2021. The Council will also take decisions on cases of alleged human rights violations against a number of parliamentarians following an update from the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.