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|Legislatures by country|
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. Unicameral legislatures typically exist in small and homogeneous unitary states, where a second chamber is considered unnecessary.
- 1 Concept
- 2 List of unicameral legislatures
- 3 Unicameralism within the subdivisions of the United States
- 4 Unicameralism in the Philippines
- 5 See also
- 6 References
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 weak regional identity, 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.
Unicameral legislatures are also common in 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: Soviet of Nationalities and the Soviet of the Union. Russian Federation retained Bicameralism after the dissolution of the USSR and the transition from existing socialism to capitalism.
The principal advantage of a unicameral system is more efficient lawmaking, as the legislative process is much simpler and there is no possibility of legislative deadlock. Proponents of unicameralism have also argued that it reduces costs, as even if the number of legislators is the same as it would be in a multicameral system, there are fewer institutions to maintain and support.
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, depending on how seats are allocated in the legislature, that important sectors of society may not be adequately represented.
List of unicameral legislatures
Many subnational entities have unicameral legislatures. These include Nebraska, Guam and the Virgin Islands in the United States, Hong Kong, the Australian states and territories of Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, all of the provinces and territories in Canada, all of the German Bundesländer, all of the Italian Regioni, all of the Spanish Autonomous Communities, and all of the Brazilian states.
- National Assembly of Angola
- National Assembly of Armenia
- National Assembly of Azerbaijan
- Jatiyo Sangshad of Bangladesh
- National Assembly of Benin
- National Assembly of Botswana
- Legislative Council of Brunei
- National Assembly of Bulgaria
- National Assembly of Burkina Faso
- National Assembly of Cape Verde
- National Assembly of the Central African Republic
- National Assembly of Chad
- National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China
- Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China (Taiwan)
- Assembly of the Union of the Comoros
- Parliament of the Cook Islands
- Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica
- Croatian Parliament of Croatia
- Folketing of Denmark
- House of Assembly of Dominica
- National Assembly of Djibouti
- National Parliament of East Timor
- National Assembly of Ecuador
- House of Representatives of Egypt
- Legislative Assembly of El Salvador
- National Assembly of Eritrea
- Riigikogu of Estonia
- Parliament of Finland
- National Assembly of the Gambia
- Parliament of Georgia
- Parliament of Ghana
- Parliament of Greece
- Congress of Guatemala
- National Assembly of Guinea
- National People's Assembly of Guinea-Bissau
- National Assembly of Guyana
- National Congress of Honduras
- National Assembly of Hungary
- Althing of Iceland
- Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran
- Council of Representatives of Iraq (provision exists for the founding of a "Council of Union", but no move to this effect has been initiated by the existing Council)
- Knesset of Israel
- National Assembly of Ivory Coast
- House of Assembly of Kiribati
- Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea
- National Assembly of the South Korea
- Assembly of Kosovo
- Supreme Council of Kyrgyzstan
- National Assembly of Kuwait
- National Assembly of Laos
- Saeima of Latvia
- Parliament of Lebanon
- General National Congress of Libya
- Landtag of Liechtenstein
- Seimas of Lithuania
- Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg
- Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia
- National Assembly of Malawi
- Majlis of the Maldives
- National Assembly of Mali
- Parliament of Malta
- Legislature of the Marshall Islands
- National Assembly of Mauritius
- Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia
- Parliament of Moldova
- National Council of Monaco
- State Great Khural of Mongolia
- Parliament of Montenegro
- Assembly of the Republic of Mozambique
- Parliament of Nauru
- Constituent Assembly of Nepal
- Parliament of New Zealand
- National Assembly of Nicaragua
- National Assembly of Niger
- Assembly of Niue
- Parliament of Norway
- National Assembly of Panama
- National Parliament of Papua New Guinea
- Congress of the Republic of Peru
- Assembly of the Republic of Portugal
- National Assembly of Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Legislative Assembly of Samoa
- National Assembly of São Tomé and Príncipe
- National Assembly of Serbia
- National Assembly of Seychelles
- Parliament of Sierra Leone
- Parliament of Singapore
- National Council of Slovakia
- Parliament of Sri Lanka
- National Assembly of Suriname
- Riksdag of Sweden
- Parliament of Syria
- National Assembly of Tanzania
- National Assembly of Togo
- Legislative Assembly of Tonga
- National Assembly of Tunisia
- Grand National Assembly of Turkey
- Assembly of Turkmenistan
- Parliament of Tuvalu
- Parliament of Uganda
- Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
- Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State
- National Assembly of Venezuela
- National Assembly of Vietnam
- Assembly of Representatives of Yemen
- National Assembly of Zambia
- House of Assembly of the British Virgin Islands
- Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands
- Parliament of Greenland
- Parliament of Gibraltar
- Legislature of Guam
- Legislative Council of Hong Kong (divided into two groups for private members' bills since 1998)
- Legislative Assembly of Macau
- Legislature of the U.S. Virgin Islands
- All legislatures and legislative councils of the regions and communities of Belgium
- All legislative assemblies of the provinces of Canada
- All Landtage of the states of Germany
- All legislative assemblies of the states of Malaysia
- The legislature of the State of Nebraska, USA
- Council of Washington, D.C. (United States)
- Parliament of Queensland and the legislative assemblies of the territories of Australia (but not the states)
- Provincial legislatures of the Provinces of South Africa
- Narodna skupština of Republika Srpska
- All legislatures in all states of Brazil
- All legislatures in all states of Mexico
- 15 of the Provinces of Argentina – Chaco, Chubut, Córdoba, Formosa, Jujuy, La Pampa, La Rioja, Misiones, Neuquén, Río Negro, San Juan, Santa Cruz, Santiago del Estero, Tierra del Fuego, Tucumán and the autonomous city of Buenos Aires.
- 22 States and 2 Union Territories in India – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Delhi, Puducherry
- All Provinces in Pakistan – Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Punjab plus legislature of Gilgit Baltistan
- Kurdish Parliament
- Northern Ireland Assembly
- Scottish Parliament
- National Assembly for Wales
- Parliaments of the autonomous communities of Spain
- Local People's Congresses of all levels of provinces, regions and municipalities of the People's Republic of China
- Provincial Assembly of the Sindh is a unicameral house of elected representatives of people of Sindh established under Article 106 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Colonies and States in the US
- General Assembly of Georgia until 1789
- General Assembly of Pennsylvania until 1790
- General Assembly of Vermont until 1836
- Congress of the Confederation was unicameral before being replaced by the current, bicameral United States Congress.
Unicameralism within the subdivisions of the United States
Within U.S. states, Nebraska is currently the only state with a unicameral legislature; after a state-wide vote, it changed from bicameral to unicameral in 1937. Nebraska's state legislature is also unique in the sense that it is the only state legislature that is entirely nonpartisan.
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 a non-binding referendum held on July 10, 2004, voters in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico approved changing its Legislative Assembly to a unicameral body by 456,267 votes in favor (83.7%) versus 88,720 against (16.3%). If both the territory's House of Representatives and Senate had approved by a 2/3 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.
Unicameralism in the Philippines
Though the current Congress of the Philippines is bicameral the country experienced unicameralism from 1898–1899 during the First Philippine Republic and from 1935–1940 during the Commonwealth Era. Under the 1973 Constitution, the legislative body was called Batasang Pambansa, which functioned 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 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. 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. 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.
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).
- List of legislatures by country
- Abolished upper house
- Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, Wikipedia and Supreme Soviet of Russia, Wikipedia
- "History of the Nebraska Unicameral". nebraskalegislature.gov. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
- "One People – One House". News.minnesota.publicradio.org. 1999-04-29. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Unicameral Legislature" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- One for All, Rick Lazio, New York Times, July 14, 2009
- "Constitutional Commission proposals". Concom.ph. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- Softrigger Interactive (2008-02-25). "Philippines : Gov.Ph : About the Philippines". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Why Change?". Concom.ph. Retrieved 2013-11-26.