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. Laws enacted by legislatures are known as legislation. Legislatures observe and steer governing actions and usually have exclusive authority to amend the budget or budgets involved in the process. The members of a legislature are called legislators. In a democracy, legislators are most commonly popularly elected, although indirect election and appointment by the executive are also used, particularly for bicameral legislatures featuring an upper chamber.
1 Terminology 2 Internal organization 3 Power
4 Members 5 Chambers 6 Size 7 See also 8 References 9 Further reading
Map showing the terminology for each country's legislature.
Names for national legislatures include "parliament", "congress",
"diet", and "assembly".
Each chamber of legislature consists of a number of legislators who
use some form of parliamentary procedure to debate political issues
and vote on proposed legislation. There must be a certain number of
legislators present to carry out these activities; this is called a
Some of the responsibilities of a legislature, such as giving first
consideration to newly proposed legislation, are usually delegated to
committees made up of small selections of the legislators.
The members of a legislature usually represent different political
parties; the members from each party generally meet as a caucus to
organize their internal affairs.
The internal organization of a legislature is also shaped by the
informal norms that are shared by its members.
Legislatures vary widely in the amount of political power they wield,
compared to other political players such as judiciaries, militaries,
and executives. In 2009, political scientists M.
Steven Fish and
Matthew Kroenig constructed a Parliamentary Powers Index in an attempt
to quantify the different degrees of power among national
legislatures. The German Bundestag, the Italian Parliament, and the
State Great Khural
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2016)
Legislatures will sometime delegate their legislative power to administrative or executive agencies. Members Legislatures are made up of individual members, known as legislators, who vote on proposed laws. A legislature usually contains a fixed number of legislators; because legislatures usually meet in a specific room filled with seats for the legislators, this is often described as the number of "seats" it contains. For example, a legislature that has 100 "seats" has 100 members. By extension, an electoral district that elects a single legislator can also be described as a "seat", as, for, example, in the phrases "safe seat" and "marginal seat". Chambers
A legislature may debate and vote upon bills as a single unit, or it may be composed of multiple separate assemblies, called by various names including legislative chambers, debate chambers, and houses, which debate and vote separately and have distinct powers. A legislature which operates as a single unit is unicameral, one divided into two chambers is bicameral, and one divided into three chambers is tricameral.
The British House of Commons, its lower house
In bicameral legislatures, one chamber is usually considered the upper house, while the other is considered the lower house. The two types are not rigidly different, but members of upper houses tend to be indirectly elected or appointed rather than directly elected, tend to be allocated by administrative divisions rather than by population, and tend to have longer terms than members of the lower house. In some systems, particularly parliamentary systems, the upper house has less power and tends to have a more advisory role, but in others, particularly presidential systems, the upper house has equal or even greater power.
The German Bundestag, its theoretical lower house
In federations, the upper house typically represents the federation's
component states. This is a case with the supranational legislature of
the European Union. The upper house may either contain the delegates
of state governments – as in the
The Australian Senate, its upper house
Tricameral legislatures are rare; the Massachusetts Governor's Council
still exists, but the most recent national example existed in the
waning years of White-minority rule in South Africa. Tetracameral
legislatures no longer exist, but they were previously used in
Legislatures vary widely in their size. Among national legislatures,
China's National People's
House of Assembly Legislative Assembly Legislative Council National Assembly Parliament Congress
^ Fish, M. Steven; Kroenig, Matthew (2009). The handbook of national legislatures: a global survey. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-51466-8. ^ "Governing Systems and Executive-Legislative Relations (Presidential, Parliamentary and Hybrid Systems)". United Nations Development Programme. Archived from the original on 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2008-10-16. ^ Schoenbrod, David (2008). "Delegation". In Hamowy, Ronald. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE; Cato Institute. pp. 117–18. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n74. ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024. ^ Frederick, Brian (December 2009). "Not Quite a Full House: The Case for Enlarging the House of Representatives". Bridgewater Review. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
Bauman, Richard W.; Kahana, Tsvi, eds. (2006). The least-examined
branch: the role of legislatures in the constitutional state.
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-85954-7.
Carey, John M. (2006). "Legislative organization". The Oxford handbook
of political institutions. Oxford University Press.
pp. 431–454. ISBN 978-0-19-927569-4.
Garner, James Wilford (1905). "Legislature". In Gilman, D. C.;
Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M.
New International Encyclopedia
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