Bicameral Motivations

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WHY WOULD A COUNTRY ADOPT A BICAMERAL SYSTEM? DISCUSS WITH REFERENCE TO MEG RUSSELL’S TREATMENT OF THE TOPIC AND USE EXAMPLES IN YOUR ANSWER.

Why would a nation split its legislative branch into two bodies? What motivations would justify this division? In this essay I will convey the reasons I believe a democratic state would adopt this legislative approach. I will explore the cultural and political backgrounds of several of the world’s dominant bicameral entities, offering an in depth analysis of how the first of the world’s bicameral nations emerged and what each house of parliament came to represent. The relationship of power between the executive and legislative branches of bicameral government offers an interesting perspective on the democratic legitimacy of the upper chamber. Meg Russell’s analysis of bicameral states offers significant insight as to how these legislative bodies function and pass bills into law. A system of scrutiny emerges and offers both positive and negative outcomes.
Why a country might adopt a bicameral legislative structure is a question that can be approached from any number of angles. Meg Russell suggests that a bicameral structure is adopted by some nations as a means to guarantee the representation of different interests. The bicameral standard of an ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ chamber owes its origins to the class based system of the previous millennia (Russell 2001). As the original contemporary ‘mother of parliaments’ (Muthoo and Shepsle 2009) Britain’s model institutional practices are in effect throughout the western world. By the time Angle’s and Saxon’s had an established presence in England in the Ninth century, councils existed that combined the executive, legislative and judicial branches under military rule. By the end of the thirteenth century two distinct legislative bodies emerged, one was comprised of geographically based representatives and the other was made up of privileged or appointed individuals. This was the



Bibliography: Burke, Edmund. Speech to the Electors of Bristol. n/a n/a, 2000. http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch13s7.html (accessed May 13th, 2013). Fisk, David. "Superflous or Mischevious? Evaluating the Determinants of Government Defeats in Second Chamber." Legislative Studies Quarterly, 2011: n/a. Hague, Rod, and Martin Harrop. Comparative Government and Politics. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Lijphart, Arend. Patterns of Democracy. Yale University Press, 1999. Lowenburg, G, and S.C Patterson. Comparing Legislature. n/a: Little Brown, 1979. Madison, James. Bicameralism: James Madison, Federalist. n/a n/a, 2000. http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch12s22.html (accessed May 14th, 2013). Muthoo, Abhinay, and Kenneth Shepsle. "The Constitutional Choice of Bicameralism." In Institutions Economic Performance, by Elhanan Helpman, 249-91. Boston: Harvard University Press, 2009. Parliamentary Education Office. Fact Sheets - Prime Minister. October 24th, 2012. http://www.peo.gov.au/students/fact_sheets/prime_minister.html (accessed May 14th, 2013). Russell, Meg. "What Are Second Chambers For?" Parliamentary Affairs, 2001: 442-58. The Dirkson Congressional Centre. Bicameralism: Congress as Two Chambers. n/a n/a, n/a. http://www.congresslink.org/print_basics_bicameralism.htm (accessed May 13th, 2013).

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