Bicameralism

Available also in Arabic

Overview

What? 

  • A ‘Bicameral’ Parliament or legislature is one in which two assemblies share legislative power.

Why?

  • Typical purposes include: to represent sub-national governments, to act as a body of expert scrutiny and review, to provide a further democratic check on the power of the lower house or to provide representation for various socio-economic interests or ethnocultural minorities.

Why not?

  • A single chamber can be cheaper, simpler and more efficient; it avoids duplication and deadlock, while concentrating democratic responsibility in one elected assembly.
  • The checks and balances of bicameralism can also be provided by other institutions, without the need for a second legislative chamber.

Where?

  • Around 80 countries worldwide have a bicameral legislature.
  • In general terms, bicameralism is more common in federal, large and presidential states, while unicameralism is more common in unitary, small, parliamentary ones.