Unicameralism

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In government, unicameralism (Latin uni, one + camera, chamber) is the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber. Thus, a unicameral parliament or unicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of one chamber or house.

A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.

A legislative chamber or house is a deliberative assembly within a legislature which generally meets and votes separately from the legislature's other chambers. Legislatures are usually unicameral, consisting of only one chamber, or bicameral, consisting of two, but there are rare examples of tricameral and tetracameral legislatures.

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 government.

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Concept

Unicameral legislatures exist when there is no widely perceived need for multicameralism. Many multicameral legislatures were created to give separate voices to different sectors of society. Multiple chambers allowed for guaranteed representation of different social classes (as in the Parliament of the United Kingdom or the French States-General), ethnic or regional interests, or subunits of a federation. Where these factors are unimportant, in unitary states with limited regional autonomy, unicameralism often prevails. Sometimes, as in New Zealand and Denmark, this comes about through the abolition of one of the two chambers, or, as in Sweden, through the merger of the two chambers into a single one, while in others a second chamber has never existed.

Multicameralism parliament with two or more chambers

In contrast to unicameralism, multicameralism is the condition in which a legislature is divided into several deliberative assemblies, which are commonly called "chambers" or "houses". This can include bicameralism with two chambers, tricameralism with three, tetracameralism with four branches, or 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.

Parliament of the United Kingdom supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom

The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Unicameral legislatures are also common in official Communist states such as the People's Republic of China and Cuba. Similarly, many formerly Communist states, such as Ukraine, Moldova and Serbia, have retained their unicameral legislatures, though others, such as Romania and Poland, adopted bicameral legislatures. Both the former Russian SFSR and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were bicameral. The two chambers were the Soviet of Nationalities and the Soviet of the Union. The Russian Federation retained bicameralism after the dissolution of the USSR and the transition from existing socialism to capitalism. [1]

Communist state State that aims to achieve socialism and then communism

A Communist state is a state that is administered and governed by a single party, guided by Marxist–Leninist philosophy.

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometres (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometres (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Ukraine Sovereign state in Eastern Europe

Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.

The principal advantage of a unicameral system is more efficient lawmaking, as the legislative process is much simpler and there is no possibility of deadlock. Proponents of unicameralism have also argued that it reduces costs, even if the number of legislators stay the same, since there are fewer institutions to maintain and support it.

In politics, gridlock or deadlock or political stalemate refers to a situation when there is difficulty passing laws that satisfy the needs of the people. A government is gridlocked when the ratio between bills passed and the agenda of the legislature decreases. Laws may be considered as the supply and the legislative agenda as demand. Gridlock can occur when two legislative houses, or the executive branch and the legislature are controlled by different political parties, or otherwise cannot agree.

The main weakness of a unicameral system can be seen as the lack of restraint on the majority, particularly noticeable in parliamentary systems where the leaders of the parliamentary majority also dominate the executive. There is also the risk that important sectors of society may not be adequately represented.

A majority is the greater part, or more than half, of the total. It is a subset of a set consisting of more than half of the set's elements.

Parliamentary system form of government

A parliamentary system is a system of democratic governance of a state where the executive derives its democratic legitimacy from its ability to command the confidence of the legislature, typically a parliament, and is also held accountable to that parliament. In a parliamentary system, the head of state is usually a person distinct from the head of government. This is in contrast to a presidential system, where the head of state often is also the head of government and, most importantly, the executive does not derive its democratic legitimacy from the legislature.

The executive is the organ exercising authority in and holding responsibility for the governance of a state. The executive executes and enforces law.

List of unicameral legislatures

Nations with a bicameral legislature.
Nations with a unicameral legislature.
Nations with a unicameral legislature and an advisory body.
Nations with no legislature. Unibicameral Map.svg
  Nations with a bicameral legislature.
  Nations with a unicameral legislature.
  Nations with a unicameral legislature and an advisory body.
  Nations with no legislature.

Approximately half of the world's sovereign states are currently unicameral, including both the most populous (the People's Republic of China) and the least populous (the Vatican City).

Sovereign state Political organization with a centralized independent government

In international law, a sovereign state, sovereign country, or simply state, is a nonphysical juridical entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood that a sovereign state is neither dependent on nor subjected to any other power or state.

Vatican City country in southern Europe under the sovereignty of the Holy See

Vatican City, officially Vatican City State, is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is distinct from yet under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See. With an area of 44 hectares, and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest state in the world by both area and population.

Many subnational entities have unicameral legislatures. These include the state of Nebraska and territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands in the United States, the Chinese special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, the Australian state of Queensland as well as the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, a majority of the provinces of Argentina, all of the provinces and territories in Canada, all of the German states, all of the regions of Italy, all of the Spanish autonomous communities, both the autonomous regions of Portugal, most of the states and union territories of India and all of the states of Brazil. In the United Kingdom, the devolved Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, London Assembly, and Northern Ireland Assembly are also unicameral.

National

Territorial

Subnational

Federations

Devolved governments

Other

List of historical unicameral legislatures

National

Subnational

Unicameralism in the United States

Within U.S. states, Nebraska is currently the only state with a unicameral legislature; after a statewide vote, it changed from bicameral to unicameral in 1937. [2] [3] A 2018 study found that efforts to adopt unicameralism in Ohio and Missouri failed due to rural opposition. [3] There was a fear in rural communities that unicameralism would diminish their influence in state government. [3]

Local government legislatures of counties, cities, or other political subdivisions within states are usually unicameral and have limited lawmaking powers compared to their state and federal counterparts.

In 1999, Governor Jesse Ventura proposed converting the Minnesota Legislature into a single unicameral chamber. [4] Although debated, the idea was never adopted.

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico held a non-binding referendum in 2005. Voters approved changing its Legislative Assembly to a unicameral body by 456,267 votes in favor (83.7%) versus 88,720 against (16.3%). [5] If both the territory's House of Representatives and Senate had approved by a 23 vote the specific amendments to the Puerto Rico Constitution that are required for the change to a unicameral legislature, another referendum would have been held in the territory to approve such amendments. If those constitutional changes had been approved, Puerto Rico could have switched to a unicameral legislature as early as 2015.

On June 9, 2009, the Maine House of Representatives voted to form a unicameral legislature, but the measure did not pass the Senate. [6]

Because of legislative gridlock in 2009, former Congressman Rick Lazio, a prospective candidate for governor, has proposed that New York adopt unicameralism. [7]

The United States as a whole was subject to a unicameral Congress during the years 1781–1788, when the Articles of Confederation were in effect.

Unicameralism in the Philippines

Though the current Congress of the Philippines is bicameral, the country experienced unicameralism in 1898 and 1899 (during the First Philippine Republic), from 1935 to 1941 ( the Commonwealth era) and from 1943 to 1944 (during the Japanese occupation). Under the 1973 Constitution, the legislative body was called Batasang Pambansa, which functioned also a unicameral legislature within a semi-presidential system form of government until 1986.

The ongoing process of amending or revising the current Constitution and form of government is popularly known as Charter Change. A shift to a unicameral parliament was included in the proposals of the constitutional commission created by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. [8] Unlike in the United States, senators in the Senate of the Philippines are elected not per district and state but nationally; the Philippines is a unitary state. [9] The Philippine government's decision-making process, relative to the United States, is more rigid, highly centralised, much slower and susceptible to political gridlock. As a result, the trend for unicameralism as well as other political system reforms are more contentious in the Philippines. [10]

While Congress is bicameral, all local legislatures are unicameral: the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Boards), Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Councils), Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Councils), Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Councils) and the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Councils).

Related Research Articles

A congress is a formal meeting of the representatives of different countries, constituent states, organizations, trade unions, political parties or other groups. The term, originally denoting a parley during battle in the Late Middle Ages, is derived from the Latin congressus.

Senate type of legislative body, often the upper house or chamber 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 allegedly wiser and more experienced members of the society or ruling class. Thus, the literal meaning of the word "senate" is Assembly of Elders.

{{Use dmy dates|date=February houses. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and vote as a single group, and from some legislatures that have three or more separate assemblies, chambers, or houses. As of 2015, fewer than half the world's national legislatures are bicameral.

Legislative assembly is the name given in some countries to either a legislature, or to one of its branches.

Congress of the Philippines parliament

The Congress of the Philippines, is the national legislature of the Philippines. It is a bicameral body consisting of the Senate, and the House of Representatives, although colloquially, the term "congress" commonly refers to just the latter.

House of Representatives of the Philippines Lower house of the Congress of the Philippines

The House of Representatives of the Philippines, is the lower house of the Congress of the Philippines. It is often commonly referred to as Congress and informally referred to as Camara or Kamara. Members of the House are officially styled as representative (Kinatawan) and sometimes informally called Congressmen/Congresswomen and are elected to a three-year term. They can be re-elected, but cannot serve more than three consecutive terms. Around eighty percent of congressmen are district representatives, representing a particular geographical area. There are 234 legislative districts in the country, each composed of about 250,000 people. There are also party-list representatives elected through the party-list system who constitute not more than twenty percent of the total number of representatives.

Senate of the Philippines the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the Philippines

The Senate of the Philippines is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the Philippines, the Congress; the House of Representatives is the lower house. The Senate is composed of 24 senators who are elected at-large with the country as one district under plurality-at-large voting.

The chamber of deputies is a legislative body in either a bicameral or a unicameral legislature.

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. Examples of upper houses in countries include the Australian Senate, Brazil's Senado Federal, the Canadian Senate, France's Sénat, Germany's Bundesrat, India's Rajya Sabha, Ireland's Seanad, Malaysia's Dewan Negara, the Netherlands' Eerste Kamer, Pakistan's Senate of Pakistan, Russia's Federation Council, Switzerland's Council of States, United Kingdom's House of Lords and the United States Senate.

Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico Territorial legislature of Puerto Rico

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 by 27 senators, and the lower house, the House of Representatives normally composed by 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.

A Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), or a Member of the Legislature (ML), is a representative elected by the voters of a constituency to the legislature or legislative assembly of a sub-national jurisdiction.

Supreme Council (Transnistria)

The Supreme Council of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is the parliament of Transnistria. The unicameral legislature consists of 43 seats, all of which are determined by single mandate constituencies. It is headed by a chairman.

Supreme Council (Kyrgyzstan) Kyrgyzstani parliament

The Supreme Council is the unicameral Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic. It has 120 seats with members elected for a five-year term by party-list proportional voting.

Legislative districts of the Philippines

The legislative districts of the Philippines are the divisions of the Philippines' provinces and cities for representation in the various legislative bodies. Congressional districts are for House of Representatives, while there are districts for Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and some Sangguniang Panlungsod. For purposes of representation, the Senate, most Sangguniang Panlungsod, Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan are all elected at-large, although there were previously senatorial districts.

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.

References

  1. Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, Wikipedia and Supreme Soviet of Russia, Wikipedia
  2. "History of the Nebraska Unicameral". nebraskalegislature.gov. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
  3. 1 2 3 Myers, Adam S. (2018). "The Failed Diffusion of the Unicameral State Legislature, 1934–1944". Studies in American Political Development. 32 (2): 217–235. doi:10.1017/S0898588X18000135. ISSN   0898-588X.
  4. "One People – One House". News.minnesota.publicradio.org. 1999-04-29. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  5. "Referéndum sobre el Sistema Cameral". Comisión Estatal de Elecciones de Puerto Rico. 2005-07-10.
  6. "RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Unicameral Legislature" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  7. One for All, Rick Lazio, New York Times, July 14, 2009
  8. "Constitutional Commission proposals". Concom.ph. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  9. Softrigger Interactive (2008-02-25). "Philippines : Gov.Ph : About the Philippines". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  10. "citation was not true it needs more references?". Concom.ph. Retrieved 2013-11-26.