The europarliament.net site is back online after nearly a year's downtime. This site does for MEPs what the Public Whip does for MPs - it takes their public attendance and voting records, and breaks them down into useful information for citizens.
The European Parliament, like Westminster, keeps a record of all its debates and votes and publishes them online. (Actually, all our discussions are public, unlike the Commons where committees meet behind closed doors - and we keep a record of which members attend which debates, while the Commons doesn't.)
But it can be difficult to analyse this raw information - and the official europarl.eu.int site, while nowhere near as gargantuan as europa.eu.int, can still be quite intimidating for novice users.
The europarliament.net site is a very useful shortcut. With a single mouse click, you can learn which MEPs have the best (and worst) attendance records - whether more Brits turn up than Poles, or more liberals than Tories, or more women than men. You can also find a complete list of past votes in Parliament, the results, and the names of everyone who voted in favour, against, or abstained.
The site is independently run and unofficial, and it sometimes gets details wrong. Plus it's still in its infancy design-wise, with only a few of the many advanced facilities that its UK counterparts have developed over the past few years. But no doubt these will come as the site itself increases in popularity over time.
In the meantime, if you're interested in European parliamentary democracy, it's definitely worth a look. Here are a few interesting pages to get you started:
- My report on the new EU constitution in January: who voted in favour, who voted against, and who didn't turn up.
- Debates and votes on 9 May 2005: who attended and who stayed away.
- Women and men: the differences in attendance.
- UK parties: which parties have the best attendance record.
- UK MEPs: who has the best and worst attendance records. (Guess who's at the bottom? Surprise!)
(edit 25/07/05: the site is down again!)