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Quality and statistical thinking in a parliament and beyond

Summary: After decades of an intensive academic career, with research activities having a strong statistical and quality background, I was given the opportunity of running twice for election to the National Parliament of Portugal. This article is mostly about the challenging experience of being a Member of Parliament from 2009–2015. I aim to provide sufficient evidence to convince the reader that statistical thinking, quality tools, and fact-based approaches are necessary to better governing. These tools and approaches can help to provide a better understanding of how Parliaments work and some of the strongest features of their organizational culture. Routine application of these tools can yield better results, increased efficiency and efficacy in Parliaments, politics and in public policy making. For that purpose, I provide specific illustrations, which show how I applied statistical tests, variation analysis, clustering, and Bayesian interpretations to several situations related with the Portuguese Parliament. The goal of this article is to provide enough support to show that: (i) statistical or quality thinking and tools can help to better understand and improve Parliaments, as well as come up with better evidence-based decisions made by politicians; and (ii) Parliaments and societies are likely to get better if more people with a sound statistical background accept the challenge of becoming Members of Parliament, at least for a while.

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  • Topics: Statistics
  • Keywords: Democracy quality, Evidence-based policy making, Politicians utility functions, Quality tools and parliaments, Statistical thinking in politics
  • Author: Saraiva, Pedro Manuel
  • Journal: Quality Engineering