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The Territorial Role of Second Chambers

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Territorial representation is one of the classic functions of an upper house. Whilst the lower house is elected on a popular basis to represent the nation's citizens, the upper house may represent regions, provinces or states. Often this representation is of sub-national governments or assemblies, rather than citizens. The origins of the territorial upper house model, and its current day use are examined. Using diverse examples such as the upper houses of Australia, Canada, South Africa, Spain, Germany and Italy, the extent to which these chambers perform a truly territorial function is questioned. The conclusion considers the spread of the territorial model, and how this can best be harnessed to play a useful territorial function in federal or devolved states.

Keywords: Territorial representation; bicameralism; devolved states; federalism; second chambers; sub-national government

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2001


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