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Abolished upper house: Wikis

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Throughout the history of bicameralism in legislatures and parliaments, various countries and subnational political divisions have debated or carried out the abolition of upper houses or lower houses in favour of unicameralism.

Contents

Movements for abolition

Reasons for the abolition of upper legislative houses vary from government to government. However, they may boil down to the following reasons:

  • Unelected members (in the case where upper house members are appointed by the head of the executive branch)
  • Less democratic legitimacy and under-representation of minority ethnics and sexes
  • Government expenditure on the maintenance of the house
  • Longer and unlimited terms in office (leading to accusations of monarchism)
  • Slow process of legislation due to upper house scrutiny

Australia

The Australian state of Queensland had a legislative council before abolishing it in 1922; at this time members of the Legislative Council (the formal name of the state parliament) were not elected by the citizenry and so the council was found to be undemocratic and thus unconstitutional. As this was a purely internal matter, all other Australian states continue to have bicameral systems.

Estonia

According to the 1938 Constitution, the Riigikogu had two chambers, which replaced the unicameral system. The upper chamber was called Riigivolikogu and the lower chamber was named Riiginõukogu. Both chambers were disbanded in 1940, following the Soviet occupation, and rigged elections for only the upper chamber Riigivolikogu were held. According to the 1992 Constitution of Estonia, the parliament is once again unicameral. [1]

Canada

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Federal

Both the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois have called for the abolition of the Senate of Canada; furthermore, the NDP does not actively hold seats in the Senate due to its abstention from the Senate, and has called for a referendum on the abolition of the Senate[2]. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stated that the Senate "must either change or—like the old upper houses of our provinces—vanish".[3]

Support for the abolition of the Senate has been voiced by the premiers of four provinces: Ontario,[4] British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

Provincial-level

Most Canadian provinces once possessed upper houses, but abolished them to adopt unicameral systems. Newfoundland had a Legislative Council prior to joining Canada, as did Ontario when it was Upper Canada.

United States

Federal

In addition to calls for the abolition of the electoral college for presidential elections, a smaller minority of political activists have called for the abolition of the United States Senate[5][6].

State-level

Nebraska is the only state in the United States to have a unicameral legislature, which it achieved when it abolished its lower house in 1934. During the governorship of Jesse Ventura in Minnesota, he called for the state to have a unicameral legislature.

Other countries

Croatia, Denmark, Greece, New Zealand, Sweden, Peru and Venezuela once possessed upper houses but abolished them to adopt unicameral systems.

References

  1. ^ The legislative bodies of the Republic of Estonia
  2. ^ Layton urges referendum on abolishing Senate, Steve Lambert, Toronto Star, Nov 04, 2007
  3. ^ CBC News (2007-09-11). "Senate should vanish if it's not reformed: Harper". CBC.ca. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/09/10/senate-harper.html?ref=rss. Retrieved 2007-09-30.  
  4. ^ CBC News (2006-03-03). "Ontario premier ponders getting rid of Senate". CBC.ca. http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/03/02/mcguinty-senate-060302.html. Retrieved 2006-12-03.  
  5. ^ Abolish the Senate!, by Timothy Noah, Slate.com
  6. ^ The Black Hole Option: Abolish the Senate, by Bob Fertik, democrats.com

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