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A legislator (also known as a deputy or lawmaker) is a person who writes and passes laws, especially someone who is a member of a legislature. Legislators are often elected by the people of the state. [1] Legislatures may be supra-national (for example, the European Parliament), national (for example, the United States Congress), or local (for example, local authorities).



The political theory of the separation of powers requires legislators to be independent individuals from the members of the executive and the judiciary. Certain political systems adhere to this principle, others do not. In the United Kingdom, for example, the executive is formed almost exclusively from legislators (members of Parliament) although the judiciary is mostly independent (until reforms in 2005, the lord chancellor uniquely was a legislator, a member of the executive - indeed, the Cabinet - and a judge, while until 2009 the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary were both judges and legislators as members of the House of Lords, though by convention they did not vote in the House until retirement).

In continental European jurisprudence and legal discussion, "the legislator" (le législateur) is the abstract entity that has produced the laws. When there is room for interpretation, the intent of the legislator will be questioned, and the court is directed to rule in the direction it judges to best fit the legislative intent, which can be difficult in the case of conflicting laws or constitutional provisions.


The local term for a legislator is usually a derivation of the local term for the relevant legislature. Typical examples include

By country

This is an incomplete list of terms for a national legislator:

Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria نواب (Député) People's National Assembly
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina Diputado Nacional Chamber of Deputies
Diputado provincialSeveral provincial Chambers of Deputies
Flag of Belarus.svg  Belarus Дэпутат (deputat) House of Representatives
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium Provincial executive member: Gedeputeerde (Dutch) / Député (French) / Deputierter (German)Deputation / Provincial College (provincial executive body)
In French, député is sometimes also used to denote a member of parliament. Chamber of Representatives or a regional parliament
Bandera de Bolivia (Estado).svg  Bolivia Diputado/Diputada Chamber of Deputies
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil Deputado estadual Legislative Assemblies
Deputado federal Chamber of Deputies
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria Депутат (Deputat) National Assembly
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Senator, [2] Sénateur Senate of Canada
Member of Parliament (MP) [3] / Député House of Commons of Canada
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile Diputado/Diputada Chamber of Deputies
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China Deputy (人大代表) National People's Congress
Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia Diputado/Diputada Departamental Assemblies
Flag of Costa Rica.svg  Costa Rica Diputado/Diputada Legislative Assembly
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark Folketingsmedlem Folketinget
Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic Diputado/Diputada Chamber of Deputies of the Dominican Republic
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador Asambleísta (before 2007, diputado) National Assembly
Flag of El Salvador.svg  El Salvador Diputado/Diputada Legislative Assembly
Flag of France.svg  France Député/Députée National Assembly
Sénateur/Sénatrice Senate
Flag of Guatemala.svg  Guatemala Diputado/Diputada Congress of the Republic
Flag of Guernsey.svg  Guernsey People's Deputy States of Guernsey
Flag of Haiti.svg  Haiti Député [4] Chamber of Deputies
Flag of Honduras.svg  Honduras Diputado/Diputada National Congress
Flag of India.svg  India Member of Parliament Lok Sabha
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran مجلس شورای اسلامی Islamic Consultative Assembly
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland Senators / Seanadóirí Seanad Éireann
Teachta Dála (TD) Dáil Éireann
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy Deputato Chamber of Deputies
Flag of Jersey.svg  Jersey Deputy States Assembly
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan Депутат (deputat) Mäjilis
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia Deputāts Saeima
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon Député/النواب (Nuwwab, or deputy) Parliament
Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg Deputéierten / Député Chamber of Deputies
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico Diputado/Diputada Chamber of Deputies
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands Gedeputeerde Provincial executive (European Netherlands)
Eilandgedeputeerde Bestuurscollege (Caribbean Netherlands)
Flag of Nicaragua.svg  Nicaragua Diputado/Diputada National Assembly
Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea Deputy (대의원;taeŭiwŏn) [5] [6] Supreme People's Assembly
Flag of Panama.svg  Panama Diputado/Diputada National Assembly
Flag of Paraguay.svg  Paraguay Diputado/Diputada Chamber of Deputies
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal Deputado Assembly of the Republic
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania Deputat Chamber of Deputies
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia Депутат (deputat) State Duma and regional legislative bodies
Flag of Somalia.svg  Somalia Deputy Federal Parliament
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain Diputado/Diputada Congress of Deputies
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand Senator (วุฒิสมาชิก; ส.ว.) Senate
Member of the H.R. (สมาชิกสภาผู้แทนราษฎร; ส.ส.) House of Representatives
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine People's Deputy of Ukraine (Депутат) Verkhovna Rada
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal House of Lords
Member of Parliament (M.P.) House of Commons
Flag of the United States.svg  United States of America Senator Senate
Representative; Congressperson House of Representatives
Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay Diputado/Diputada Chamber of Representatives
Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela Diputado/Diputada National Assembly

Substitute legislator

Some legislatures provide each legislator with an official "substitute legislator" who deputises for the legislator in the legislature if the elected representative is unavailable. Venezuela, for example, provides for substitute legislators (diputado suplente) to be elected under Article 186 of its 1999 constitution. [7] Ecuador, Panama, and the U.S. state of Idaho also have substitute legislators. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

Separation of powers refers to the division of a state's government into "branches", each with separate, independent powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with those of the other branches. The typical division into three branches of government, sometimes called the trias politica model, includes a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary. It can be contrasted with the fusion of powers in parliamentary and semi-presidential systems where there can be overlap in membership and functions between different branches, especially the executive and legislative. In most non-authoritarian jurisdictions, however, the judiciary almost never overlaps with the other branches, whether powers in the jurisdiction are separated or fused.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Senate</span> Upper house of a bicameral legislature

A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or chamber of a bicameral legislature. The name comes from the ancient Roman Senate, so-called as an assembly of the senior and therefore considered wiser and more experienced members of the society or ruling class. However the Roman Senate was not the ancestor or predecessor of modern parliamentarism in any sense, because the Roman senate was not a de jure legislative body.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Legislature</span> Deliberative assembly that makes laws

A legislature is an assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country or city. They are often contrasted with the executive and judicial powers of government.

A member of parliament (MP) is the representative in parliament of the people who live in their electoral district. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, this term refers only to members of the lower house since upper house members often have a different title. The terms congressman/congresswoman or deputy are equivalent terms used in other jurisdictions. The term parliamentarian is also sometimes used for members of parliament, but this may also be used to refer to unelected government officials with specific roles in a parliament and other expert advisers on parliamentary procedure such as the Senate Parliamentarian in the United States. The term is also used to the characteristic of performing the duties of a member of a legislature, for example: "The two party leaders often disagreed on issues, but both were excellent parliamentarians and cooperated to get many good things done."

Bicameralism is a type of legislature that is divided into two separate assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and vote as a single group. As of 2022, roughly 40% of world's national legislatures are bicameral, while unicameralism represents 60% nationally, and much more at the subnational level.

A constitutional convention is an informal and uncodified tradition that is followed by the institutions of a state. In some states, notably those Commonwealth of Nations states that follow the Westminster system and whose political systems derive from British constitutional law, most government functions are guided by constitutional convention rather than by a formal written constitution. In these states, actual distribution of power may be markedly different from those the formal constitutional documents describe. In particular, the formal constitution often confers wide discretionary powers on the head of state that, in practice, are used only on the advice of the head of government, and in some cases not at all.

Tricameralism is the practice of having three legislative or parliamentary chambers. It is contrasted with unicameralism and bicameralism, each of which is far more common.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Speaker (politics)</span> Presiding officer of a legislative body

The speaker of a deliberative assembly, especially a legislative body, is its presiding officer, or the chair. The title was first used in 1377 in England.

A bill is proposed legislation under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature as well as, in most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called an act of the legislature, or a statute. Bills are introduced in the legislature and are discussed, debated and voted upon.

Nonpartisan democracy is a system of representative government or organization such that universal and periodic elections take place without reference to political parties. Sometimes electioneering and even speaking about candidates may be discouraged, so as not to prejudice others' decisions or create a contentious atmosphere.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Massachusetts General Court</span> Legislative branch of the state government of Massachusetts

The Massachusetts General Court is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the earliest days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when the colonial assembly, in addition to making laws, sat as a judicial court of appeals. Before the adoption of the state constitution in 1780, it was called the Great and General Court, but the official title was shortened by John Adams, author of the state constitution. It is a bicameral body. The upper house is the Massachusetts Senate which is composed of 40 members. The lower body, the Massachusetts House of Representatives, has 160 members. It meets in the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill in Boston.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Texas Legislature</span> Legislative branch of the state government of Texas

The Texas Legislature is the state legislature of the US state of Texas. It is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives. The state legislature meets at the Capitol in Austin. It is a powerful arm of the Texas government not only because of its power of the purse to control and direct the activities of state government and the strong constitutional connections between it and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, but also due to Texas's plural executive.

An upper house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house. The house formally designated as the upper house is usually smaller and often has more restricted power than the lower house. A legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arizona State Legislature</span> Legislative branch of the state government of Arizona

The Arizona State Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Arizona. It is a bicameral legislature that consists of a lower house, the House of Representatives, and an upper house, the Senate. Composed of 90 legislators, the state legislature meets in the Capitol Complex in the state capital of Phoenix, Arizona. Created by the Arizona Constitution upon statehood in 1912, the Arizona State Legislature met biennially until 1950. Today, they meet annually.

A dual mandate is the practice in which elected officials serve in more than one elected or other public position simultaneously. This practice is sometimes known as double jobbing in Britain and cumul des mandats in France; not to be confused with double dipping in the United States. Thus, if someone who is already mayor of a town or city councillor becomes elected as MP or senator at the national or state legislature and retains both positions, this is a dual mandate.

A legislative session is the period of time in which a legislature, in both parliamentary and presidential systems, is convened for purpose of lawmaking, usually being one of two or more smaller divisions of the entire time between two elections. In each country the procedures for opening, ending, and in between sessions differs slightly. A session may last for the full term of the legislature or the term may consist of a number of sessions. These may be of fixed duration, such as a year, or may be used as a parliamentary procedural device. A session of the legislature is brought to an end by an official act of prorogation. In either event, the effect of prorogation is generally the clearing of all outstanding matters before the legislature.

Fusion of powers is a feature of some parliamentary forms of government where different branches of government are intermingled, typically the executive and legislative branches. It is contrasted with the separation of powers found in presidential, semi-presidential and dualistic parliamentary forms of government, where the membership of the legislative and executive powers cannot overlap. Fusion of powers exists in many, if not a majority of, parliamentary democracies, and does so by design. However, in all modern democratic polities the judiciary does not possess legislative or executive powers.

A term of office, electoral term, or parliamentary term is the length of time a person serves in a particular elected office. In many jurisdictions there is a defined limit on how long terms of office may be before the officeholder must be subject to re-election. Some jurisdictions exercise term limits, setting a maximum number of terms an individual may hold in a particular office.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Separation of powers in the United Kingdom</span>

The concept of the separation of powers has been applied to the United Kingdom and the nature of its executive, judicial and legislative functions. Historically, the apparent merger of the executive and the legislature, with a powerful Prime Minister drawn from the largest party in parliament and usually with a safe majority, led theorists to contend that the separation of powers is not applicable to the United Kingdom. However, in recent years it does seem to have been adopted as a necessary part of the UK constitution.

A government trifecta is a political situation in which the same political party controls the executive branch and both chambers of the legislative branch in countries that have a bicameral legislature and an executive that is not fused. The term is primarily used in the United States, where the term originated—being borrowed from horse race betting—but also in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and France.


  1. Little, T.H.; Ogle, D.B. (2006). The Legislative Branch of State Government: People, Process, and Politics . ABC-CLIO's about state government. ABC-CLIO. p.  4. ISBN   978-1-85109-761-6 . Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  2. Parliament of Canada: Senate: Senators.
  3. Parliament of Canada: Guide to the Canadian House of Commons: The Role of a Member of Parliament.
  4. "Chambre des députés". Le Parlement haitien. Archived from the original on Aug 31, 2018.
  5. "Socialist Constitution". Chapter IV, Section 1, Article 89. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  6. 사회주의헌법 (in Korean). 제6장, 제1절, 제89조. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  7. "Asamblea Nacional Constituyente". Tribunal Supremo de Justicia. Archived from the original on 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2014-04-12.
  8. Russell, Betsy (16 March 2014). "Idaho's substitute law unique". Spokesman Review. Retrieved 16 October 2022.