Speaker (politics): Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term speaker is a title often given to the presiding officer of a legislative body. The speaker's official role is to moderate debate, make rulings on procedure, announce the results of votes, and the like. The speaker decides who may speak and has the powers to discipline members who break the procedures of the house. The speaker often also represents the body in person, as the voice of the body in ceremonial and some other situations.

As a parliamentary title it is typically English, first recorded in the English parliament for Thomas de Hungerford in 1377; in most other cultures other styles are used, mainly translations of Chairman or President. In Canadian French, the Speaker of the House of Commons or a legislature are referred to as Président. By convention, these Speakers are normally addressed in Parliament as Mister Speaker.

Many bodies also have a speaker pro tempore or deputy speaker, designated to fill in when the speaker is not available.


UK and "Westminster system" countries

In many nations, especially those with the Westminster system of government, the position of speaker, modelled after the Speaker of the British House of Commons, is ideally scrupulously politically neutral and is not concerned with substantive issues. In the event of a tie, the speaker is permitted to vote but only according to established conventions. In most cases the speaker is elected from among the members of the assembly by the members, and whips are not allowed to be among the selection. In the UK, a speaker is normally chosen from one of the two largest parties.

Despite being an impartial position, the Speaker in a Westminster system parliament has to stand for re-election to stay. In the Republic of Ireland the Speaker (Ceann Comhairle) is deemed to have been elected if they seek re-election. In the United Kingdom it is a constitutional convention that no major party will put up a candidate against the 'Speaker seeking re-election'. This convention was not respected during the 1987 General Election, when both the Labour Party and the Social Democratic Party fielded candidates against the Conservative Speaker, Bernard Weatherill, who was MP for Croydon North East. In the General Election of 2005, the Scottish National Party put up a candidate against the incumbent Speaker, Michael Martin. There is no such convention in Canada and the major parties routinely field candidates against a Speaker who is seeking re-election.

United States

In the United States, in the House of Representatives and in state legislatures and local government councils, the speaker is usually selected by the members of the majority party and functions as a leader of that party. Thus, though speakers are supposed to be fair, they use procedural rulings to advance the agenda of their own party. Ceremonially, the speaker represents the whole house, but politically is the legislative voice of the party in power.

There is one prominent case of a speaker who is not presiding officer. The New York City Council, the unicameral legislative body for New York City, has as its presiding officer the Public Advocate, a position formerly known as City Council President, who is elected by all the voters of the city. As the public advocate's role has changed with several city charter revisions, a post of Council Speaker was created. The speaker is, effectively, majority leader of the council.

According to the federal succession statute currently in effect,[1] the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress is second in line for succession to the presidency; should the president and vice president be unable to serve, the speaker would become president. Some scholars, however, have argued that this provision of the succession statute is unconstitutional.[2]

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives is currently Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who is the first woman ever to serve as Speaker.

Similar posts

The presiding officer for an upper house of a bicameral legislature usually has a different title, although substantially the same duties.

When the upper house is called a senate, the equivalent title is often President of the Senate. Australia, Chile, the United States and many other countries have upper houses with presiding officers titled "president". In several American republics, the vice president of the country serves as the president of the upper house.

This pattern is not universal, however. Some upper houses, including those of Canada and several U.S. states (including Tennessee), have a speaker.

In the United Kingdom, the presiding officer of the House of Lords was until recently the Lord Chancellor, who was also a member of the government (a cabinet member) and the head of the judicial branch. The Lord Chancellor did not have the same authority to discipline members of the Lords that the speaker of the Commons has in that house. (On 4 July 2006 the office was reformed, and the Baroness Hayman took the woolsack as the first Lord Speaker.) (The office of Lord Chancellor remains, though with a modified role and duties.)

The Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament have the positions of Presiding Officer, which fulfils the same role as the speaker.


Country Legislature (or legislative chamber) Speaker
Australia Australian House of Representatives Harry Jenkins
Bulgaria National Assembly of Bulgaria Georgi Pirinski
Canada Canadian House of Commons Peter Milliken
China, People's Republic of National People's Congress Wu Bangguo
 » Hong Kong SAR Legislative Council Tsang Yok Sing
 » Macau SAR Legislative Assembly of Macau Susana Chou
Croatia Croatian Parliament (Sabor) Luka Bebić
Denmark Parliament of Denmark (Folketinget) Thor Pedersen
Estonia Riigikogu Ene Ergma
Finland Parliament of Finland (eduskunta/riksdagen) Sauli Niinistö
Ghana Parliament of Ghana Mrs. Justice Joyce Adeline Bamford-Addo
Germany Bundestag Norbert Lammert
Hungary National Assembly of Hungary (Magyar Köztársaság Országgyűlése) Katalin Szili
India Lok Sabha Meira Kumar
Indonesia People's Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat) Marzuki Alie
Ireland Dáil Éireann Seamus Kirk
Israel Knesset Reuven Rivlin
Kosovo Assembly of Kosovo Jakup Krasniqi
Republic of Korea National Assembly of the Republic of Korea Kim Hyong O
Latvia Saeima Gundars Daudze
Lebanon Parliament of Lebanon Nabih Berri
Liechtenstein Landtag of Liechtenstein Klaus Wanger
Republic of Macedonia Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia Ljubiša Georgievski
Malaysia House of Representatives of Malaysia (Dewan Rakyat) Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia
Malta House of Representatives of Malta Anton Tabone
Mexico Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) Ruth Zavaleta Salgado
Moldova Parliament Marian Lupu
Montenegro Assembly of Montenegro Ranko Krivokapić
The Netherlands House of Representatives of the Netherlands Gerdi Verbeet
New Zealand House of Representatives Dr Lockwood Smith
Nigeria National Assembly of Nigeria acting Aminu Bello Masari
Pakistan National Assembly of Pakistan Dr. Fahmida Mirza
Philippines Philippine House of Representatives Prospero Nograles
The Russian Federation The State Duma Boris Gryzlov
Serbia National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Slavica Đukić Dejanović
Singapore Parliament of Singapore Abdullah Tarmugi
Solomon Islands National Parliament of Solomon Islands Sir Peter Kenilorea
Sri Lanka Parliament of Sri Lanka W. J. M. Lokubandara
Taiwan (Republic of China) Legislative Yuan Wang Jin-pyng
Thailand House of Representatives of Thailand Chai Chidchob
Ukraine Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Lytvyn
United Kingdom House of Commons of the United Kingdom John Bercow
 » Isle of Man House of Keys Steve Rodan
 » Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Assembly William Hay
 » Scotland Scottish Parliament Alex Fergusson
 » Wales National Assembly for Wales Dafydd Elis-Thomas
United States of America House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi
Vanuatu Parliament of Vanuatu George Andre Wells[3]
Zimbabwe Parliament of Zimbabwe Lovemore Moyo

See also



  1. ^ 3 U.S.C. § 19
  2. ^ See Akhil Reed Amar & Vikram Amar, Is The Presidential Succession Law Constitutional?, 48 Stan. L. Rev. 113 (1995). This issue is discussed in the entry on the United States Presidential Line of Succession
  3. ^ "01 September confirmed as date for Vanuatu Presidential Election". Islands Business. 2009-09-02. http://www.islandsbusiness.com/news/index_dynamic/containerNameToReplace=MiddleMiddle/focusModuleID=130/focusContentID=16428/tableName=mediaRelease/overideSkinName=newsArticle-full.tpl. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 

Simple English

Speaker is the name of the person in charge of some legislatures, usually the lower house.

House of Commons of the United Kingdom

The Speaker is elected by other members, usually he or she is a member of the government party, but leaves his or her party because the Speaker must be neutral (not like one side more than another). The Speaker does not vote. If the Speaker wants to stand in for re-election the other parties do not oppose him to show he is neutral.

Dail Éireann in Ireland

The Speaker (Ceann Comhairle) is neutral, but the constitution (Bunreacht) of Ireland says he does not need to stand for re-election, he is given the first seat in his constituency.

United States House of Representatives

The Speaker is the leader of the largest party. He or she is not neutral, but votes for his party's policies. The Speaker also helps to get his party's idea's made law.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address