Differences Between Bicameral and Unicameral Legislature: The words Unicameral and Bicameral are common words that junior secondary and senior secondary school students get used to because it is hammered into their heads during the Civic Education and Government classes but for the purposes of this article a comprehensive definition would suffice.
Unicameralism is a Latin word that is used to describe a word that makes no distinction between upper case and lower case and has only one case, it can also mean a country with one House of Assembly that legislates and votes as one. Unicameralism happens in a society where there is no need for a bicameral system of government. A single central institution has power to pass laws and to make policies and decisions.
This means that when a decision is passed there will be no need to consult a lower house or a higher house because there is in fact nothing of the sort. Examples of countries with unicameral system of government: Hungry, Monaco, Sweden, Turkey, Serbia, Ukraine, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Sweden, Finland, Israel, Denmark, and other small nation’s commonly with a unitary system of government.
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Bicameralism on the other hand describes a word that has both upper and lower cases, It can also mean a system of government that is divided into two separate chambers, commonly known as houses. The both houses deliberate and vote separately. Members of a bicameral house are voted in by different methods practiced in different countries. A major disadvantage of bicameral legislature is that the two chambers would have different opinions on the same matter.
Worldwide, about 41% of governments are bicameral and 59% are unicameral. Examples of countries with a Bicameral system of government include: Nigeria, USA, Czech Republic, Spain, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, U.K., Ireland, the Netherlands, Russia, etc.
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As seen from the above definitions we would be focusing on the use of the words Bicameral and Unicameral in the context of politics, and in order to really have a good grasp of the words then a definition of the words legislature and legislations won’t be left out:
The legislature is a branch of government that has power to enact laws called legislations and it is divided into Bicameral and Unicameral. Legislation is the law that has been enacted by the legislature, either in a Unicameral or Bicameral legislature. Some legislations lie between the two areas, such that even the higher house has the right to overrule the decision of the lower house only on some certain conditions.
The two systems of governments are very distinct, let’s look at some of their distinctions.
10 Differences between unicameral and Bicameral Legislature
1. Bicameral legislature is usually practiced by countries with a heterogenous identity: different religions, races, language and culture. However, unicameralism on the other hand is adopted by countries that are homogenous in nature: countries that have all their regions speaking the same language.
2. Unicameral legislature is the system that operates with only one House of Assembly. While Bicameral legislature refers to the form of government where the powers and authority are shared between two separate chambers(the upper and the lower house) and decisions aren’t reached till there have seen the concurrent views of the two sides on the matter.
3. Unicameral legislature is done in a country with a unitary form of government: It is common in a totalitarian form of government and dictatorship form of government. On the other hand, Bicameral legislature is done in a country with a federal system of government and mostly practiced in counties with a presidential system of government.
4. Representatives in a Unicameral legislative system are elected from constituencies demarcated based on population. On the other hand, in a Bicameral legislative system, members of the lower house are elected while those of the upper house may be either elected or appointed.
5. The possibilities of a deadlock is almost non-existent in a Unicameral legislative system, this is because there is only one house and a smaller amount of people that agree or disagree on the bill. On the other hand, in a Bicameral legislative system the possibility of a deadlock is common as there are two houses to deliberate on the bill and many people that are involved. The two houses could disagree on a bill for a long time. In such a a situation the president has to convene a joint session of the two chambers to make them reach an agreement.
6. The Unicameral legislature allows a mixture of both experienced and not so experienced legislative members, both in age and otherwise. While it is common for the lower house to be dominated by younger members of the house.
7. Unicameral legislature favours smaller countries while Bicameral legislature favours larger countries.
8. Unicameral legislature is cheaper to run, and saves the government a lot of money. There is no uncessary burden of paying tons of money to people of a second chamber. While in Bicameral legislature there is financial pressure on the government to pay the salaries of both those of the upper house and those of the lower house.
9. In a Unicameral legislative system there is a faster method of decision making because it comprises only one house or chamber. On the other hand, in Bicameral legislative system the method of decision making is slow because the two houses have to deliberate on the bill being passed and sometimes there is a deadlock, leading to time wastage.
10. In a Bicameral legislature there is an unfair representation of the people in the local areas of the state while in a Unicameral legislature there is a fair representation of everyone in common. This can also serve as a major disadvantage to the Unicameral system of government because it could lead to political unrests, threat of sessions and in some cases, war.
After a comprehensive reading and research on this topic and after writing this article, it is in my humble view to say that bicameral legislative system is the best system of government. Not because I come from a country with a bicameral legislative system of government, but even though law making is tasking and teadious, it weeds out authoritarian laws, provides all social groups with a voice, and ensures socio-economic groups are represented.
The deadlocks initiated by the disagreement of the two houses and their inability to reach a stalemate can lead to a positive decision, as it then involves the president and all the members of the house who put their heads together to reach a common end; it may not be faster or cheaper but its perks are much safer.
Though the power of the legislature is very important in government, the abilities of the judiciary cannot be over emphasized, and the impute of the executive and the judiciary cannot be overemphasized. The power to make and repeal laws may be in the hands of the legislature, the power to interprete this laws and determine their validity in line with the constitution may be in the hands of the judiciary, but without the assent of the executives then all hope is lost as regards that law, but the executive better watch it, as the two-third majority got their eyes on them.
Maybe I’m tilting too much towards the bicameral side but if you have a contrary opinion do let me know in the comment section, I’ll like to hear your thoughts.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.