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Tricameralism is the practice of having three legislative or parliamentary chambers. It is contrasted with unicameralism and bicameralism, both of which are far more common.
The term was used in South Africa to describe the Parliament established under the apartheid regime's new South African Constitution of 1983. The 1947 Constitution of the Republic of China had three chambers of parliament that were elected.
Other instances of tricameral legislatures in history include Simón Bolívar's model state. The word could also describe the Ancien Régime era French Estates-General, which had three 'estates', as well as the three chambers which comprised the Revolutionary French Consular and Napoleonic (1799–1815) legislatures.
Once the Icelandic Parliament was restored by royal decree in 1844, it originally operated unicamerally from 1845 to 1874 when it became principally bicameral with an additional third chamber, known as unified Parliament. All three chambers had their respective speaker:
The Icelandic Parliament followed the legislatures of Denmark and Sweden and became unicameral once more in 1991.
In 1983, South Africa's apartheid government put forward a constitution providing for a tricameral legislature. On 2 November, around seventy percent of the country's white population voted in favor of the changes –black South Africans were not consulted, and under the proposal they continued to be denied representation since in theory they were citizens of independent or autonomous Bantustans.
The South African tricameral parliament consisted of three race-based chambers:
The creation of the tricameral parliament was controversial on two fronts. On the one hand, many white conservatives disliked the idea of non-whites participating in Parliament at all. The dispute was a factor in the creation of the Conservative Party, a breakaway from the dominant National Party. On the other hand, many people of color and Asians rejected the system as a sham, saying that the chambers reserved for them were powerless.
The tricameral parliament was not particularly strong. The 1983 constitution significantly weakened the powers of parliament and abolished the position of Prime Minister. Most authorities were transferred to the State President, including the power to appoint the Cabinet. This was seen by many as an attempt to limit the power of coloreds and Indians –not only were the 'non-white' Houses of Parliament less powerful than the 'white' one, but parliament itself was subordinate to a white President.
Simón Bolívar, the South American revolutionary leader, included a tricameral legislature as part of his proposals for a model government. Bolívar described the three houses as follows:
Bolívar intended his model government to function as a parliamentary system, and so the tricameral parliament was expected to govern through the active administration of the cabinet ministers who would be accountable to it. Bolívar was explicit in many of his writings, particularly in his Message to the Congress of Angostura on how his proposed system was meant to reflect the way the British parliamentary system works. His proposal for Censors was not for them to act as legislators but rather to act as an office similar to an Ombudsman. As such, some opinions differ on whether his system could truly be classified as a tricameral parliament, considering that the Censors weren't true legislators, but seemed to represent a separate branch of government altogether.
Despite Bolívar's huge influence in South America, no country in the region employs his tricameral parliament. Early attempts to implement the model, such as in Bolivia, were not successful, although the chaos of the period was likely a factor in this outcome.[ citation needed ] As a result of not adopting Bolívar's British-inspired parliamentary system, numerous celebrated political scientists like the late Juan Linz and many others have observed that the decision of many Latin American countries to model their systems of government on the presidential system of the United States has led to numerous examples of political instability and subsequent descent into dictatorship or chaos.[ citation needed ]
Some historians view the French States-General as an example of a tricameral legislature. The States-General evolved gradually over time and provided advice on various matters (including legislative issues) to the King. The three Estates were the simply labeled First (consisting of clergy), Second (consisting of nobility), and Third (consisting of commoners). (The term "fourth estate", referring to the press, derives from this system, but was coined long after the revolution that abolished the States General).
There are two distinct problems with regarding the States-General as a tricameral legislature, however. First, the States-General never had any formal powers to legislate, although, at times, it played a major role in the King's legislative activity. Second, the division between the three estates was not always maintained –the estates sometimes deliberated separately, but at other times, they deliberated as a single body, undermining the idea of tricameralism.
The French Consulate (and later First French Empire, although the lower two chambers were by then entirely without power) had a tricameral legislature, consisting of:
Whether the Sénat was part of legislature, however, is open to doubt, because Sieyès (the main instigator of the Consulate's Constitution and later president of this Senate) described it as belonging to an altogether different power beyond the executive, legislative and judiciary: the conservative power. In effect, Napoléon made the Sénat into a political élite to back his power as Consul and later as Emperor, whereas the other two chambers were subdued into submission. In 1807, the Tribunat was definitely abolished.
The 1947 Constitution of the Republic of China has three chambers of parliament that are elected. Governmental organs of the constitution follow the outline proposed by Sun Yat-sen and supported by the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), while also incorporating the opinions of the federalism supported Communist Party in the 1940s. The separation of powers was designed by Carsun Chang, a founding member of the China Democratic League.
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As the mechanism is significantly different from the Western trias politica, the grand justices has an interpretation which ruled that these three organs all bear characteristics equivalent to a "parliament".
However, the government of the Republic of China lost the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and retreated to Taiwan. A set of temporary provisions were passed by the National Assembly to gather more powers to the President and limit the functions of the tricameral parliament. Members of the tricameral parliament elected in China in 1947 and 1948 kept serving on Taiwan without reelection until 1991.
After a series of constitutional amendments in the 1990s in Taiwan, the new Additional Articles of the Constitution have changed the Legislative Yuan to a unicameral parliament.
The Socialist Republic of Croatia, as well as all other federal units of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (according to the provisions of the 1974 Constitution) had three houses of parliament (Sabor Socijalističke republike Hrvatske, now Hrvatski sabor): Socio-Political Council (Društveno-političko vijeće), Council of Municipalities (Vijeće općina) and Council of Associated Labor (Vijeće udruženog rada). This was abolished by the new constitution as Croatia gained independence in 1990.
The parliament of the Isle of Man, Tynwald, is sometimes called tricameral, but this description is not universally accepted. The two branches of Tynwald are the House of Keys and the Legislative Council. The Tynwald Court consists of the members of both houses meeting together regularly. Some argue that this counts as a third house. Others disagree, saying that as there are no members of the Court who are not also members of the other houses, the Court should not be considered separately (by comparison, in Australia, Switzerland and India deadlocks between the two Houses can sometimes be resolved by a joint sitting. It is a matter of semantics whether or not such arrangements are described as "tricameral". (Taking the expression literally, Tynwald is tricameral in that there are three separate chambers (rooms) in use for the sessions.)
The General Synod of the Church of England is sometimes described as tricameral. It is divided into a House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity. As the Church of England is the state church of England, the Parliament of the United Kingdom has given the General Synod the power (subject to veto) to make law relating to the Church.
In the fifteenth century, secular clergy of each diocese sent two proctors to the Parliament of Ireland, who met separately from the House of Commons and the House of Lords. In 1537, their right to membership was revoked after they opposed the Reformation in Ireland.
Tricameral meeting arrangements are a growing trend in labor unions where some members will always be working on one of three shifts. Under such arrangements, each shift will have its own meeting, but the action of one meeting will have to be adopted by the other two.
In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: representing the electorate, making laws, and overseeing the government via hearings and inquiries. The term is similar to the idea of a senate, synod or congress, and is commonly used in countries that are current or former monarchies, a form of government with a monarch as the head. Some contexts restrict the use of the word parliament to parliamentary systems, although it is also used to describe the legislature in some presidential systems, even where it is not in the official name.
The Sejm, officially known as the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, is the lower house of the bicameral parliament of Poland.
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.
A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country or city. Legislatures form important parts of most governments; in the separation of powers model, they are often contrasted with the executive and judicial branches of parliamentary government.
The Alþingi is the national parliament of Iceland. It is the oldest surviving parliament in the world. The Althing was founded in 930 at Þingvellir, situated approximately 45 kilometres (28 mi) east of what later became the country's capital, Reykjavík. Even after Iceland's union with Norway in 1262, the Althing still held its sessions at Þingvellir until 1800, when it was discontinued. It was restored in 1844 by royal decree and moved to Reykjavík. The restored unicameral legislature first came together in 1845 and after 1874 operated in two chambers with an additional third chamber taking on a greater role as the decades passed until 1991 when Althing became once again unicameral. The present parliament building, the Alþingishús, was built in 1881, made of hewn Icelandic stone. The unicameral parliament has 63 members, and is elected every four years based on party-list proportional representation. The current speaker of the Althing is Steingrímur J. Sigfússon.
The Legislative Yuan is the unicameral legislature of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Located in Taipei, the Legislative Yuan is composed of 113 legislators, which are directly elected by people of the Free Area through a parallel voting system for 4-year terms. Like parliaments or congresses of other countries, the Legislative Yuan is responsible for the passage of legislation, which is then sent to the President for signing. For these similarities, it is also common for people to refer to the Legislative Yuan as "the parliament".
Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature 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 2015, about 40% of world's national legislatures are bicameral, and about 60% are unicameral.
In government, unicameralism is the practice of having a single legislative or parliamentary chamber. Thus, a unicameral parliament or unicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of one chamber or house.
President of the Senate is a title often given to the presiding officer of a senate. It corresponds to the speaker in some other assemblies.
The Control Yuan is an independent investigatory and auditory agency of the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan. Designed as a hybrid of auditor and ombudsman by Taiwanese law, the Control Yuan holds the following powers:
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.
The Congress of the Dominican Republic is the bicameral legislature of the government of the Dominican Republic, consisting of two houses, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Both senators and deputies are chosen through direct election. There are no term limits for either chamber.
The Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico is the territorial legislature of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, responsible for the legislative branch of the government of Puerto Rico. The Assembly is a bicameral legislature consisting of an upper house, the Senate normally composed of 27 senators, and the lower house, the House of Representatives normally consisting of 51 representatives. Eleven members of each house are elected at-large rather than from a specific legislative district with all members being elected for a four-year term without term limits.
The Senate is the upper house in the bicameral Parliament of Romania. It has 136 seats, to which members are elected by direct popular vote using party-list proportional representation in 43 electoral districts, to serve four-year terms.
The Tricameral Parliament, officially the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, was the legislature of South Africa between 1984 to 1994, established by the South African Constitution of 1983, which gave a limited political voice to the country's Coloured and Indian population groups. The majority Black population group was however still excluded, their interests notionally represented in the governments of the black homelands, or "bantustans", of which they were formally citizens. As these institutions were largely politically impotent, its principle effect was to further entrench the political power of the White section of the South African population.
The Haitian Parliament is the bicameral legislature of the Republic of Haiti, consisting of the upper house as the Senate (Sénat) and the lower house as the Chamber of Deputies. Both assemblies conduct legislative sessions at the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
The Government of the Republic of China, also known retroactively as the Government of Nationalist China, is the unitary government that exercises control over Taiwan and other islands in the free area. The president is the head of state. The government consists of Presidency and five branches (Yuan): the Executive Yuan, Legislative Yuan, Judicial Yuan, Examination Yuan, and Control Yuan.
In contrast to unicameralism, and bicameralism, multicameralism is the condition in which a legislature is divided into more than two deliberative assemblies, which are commonly called "chambers" or "houses". This usually includes tricameralism with three chambers, but can also describe a system with any amount more. The word "multicameral" can also relate in other ways to its literal meaning of "many chambered" with use in science or biology.
House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral legislature, with the corresponding upper house often called a "Senate". In some countries, the House of Representatives is the sole chamber of a unicameral legislature.
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