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Fundamentals of Institutional Design: The Functions and Powers of Parliamentary Second Chambers

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Well over one-third of the national parliaments in the world are bicameral. The upper houses of these parliaments, alternatively called second chambers or senates, vary in their geographical location, size, membership selection and constitutional context. Moreover, second chambers vary in their intercameral roles and powers, analysed here as 'symmetrical vs. asymmetrical bicameralism'. Finally, the relative power of upper houses is circumscribed differently in federal versus unitary systems, dependent on the powers accorded to executive authority, shaped by the houses' role in law-making, and marked by the strength of the bodies' internal structure. This analysis offers a preliminary probe into these institutional features.

Keywords: bicameralism; executive authority; federal systems; internal structure; second chambers; unitary systems

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/714003851

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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