Interpellation is the formal right of a parliament to submit formal questions to the government. In many parliaments, each individual member of parliament has the right to formally submit questions (possibly a limited amount during a certain period) to a member of government. The respective minister or secretary is then required to respond and to justify government policy. Interpellation thus allows the parliament to supervise the government's activity. In this sense, it is closer to a motion of censure. In English, the parliamentary questioning sense of 'interpellation' dates from the late 19th century. It has been adopted from French constitutional discourse.
In some countries, for example Finland and Slovenia, interpellations are more or less synonymous with a motion of no confidence because they are automatically connected with a vote of confidence and their express purpose is to determine the confidence enjoyed by the government or a minister. In Finland, the government must reply to an interpellation in a plenary session within 15 days. After receiving the reply to the interpellation, parliament debates the matter and proceeds to vote on whether the government or a particular minister enjoys the confidence of Parliament.