Differences Between Unicameral Legislature and Bicameral Legislature
Bi-cameralism is defined as a process or act of carrying out legislative functions by the two chambers in a country while Uni-cameralism is the existence of a single legislative body in a state. Hence, in a unicameral state, legislative functions are performed by only one chamber, with members directly elected by the electorate.
Unicameral vs. Bicameral Legislature – The Differences
The differences between unicameral legislature and bicameral legislature include the following:
- Unicameralism is usually adopted in countries with homogeneity of population while the bicameral legislature is necessary in heterogeneous societies with different races, tribes, cultures and religions. Indeed, there is no federal state without a bicameral legislature.
- Representatives in a unicameral legislature are usually elected from constituencies demarcated on population basis. In a bicameral legislature, members of the lower house are usually elected while those of the upper house (Senate) may be appointed or elected.
In the Nigeria First Republic, for example, members of the lower house of the parliament in Nigeria were elected while senators were appointed. In the Second, Third and Fourth Republics, members of both houses are elected.
- All legislative functions are performed by one house in a unicameral legislature but they are shared between the lower and upper houses in a bicameral legislature.
- In a bicameral legislature, the Upper House is usually dominated by the older and more experienced politicians whereas the young and dynamic elements tend to dominate the lower house.
The unicameral legislature tends to weld these two different and contradictory tendencies into one.
Unicameral and Bicameral Legislatures – Conclusion
There are two types of legislatures. These are the Unicameral and Bicameral legislatures. A unicameral legislature consists of only one chamber or house of legislature which is composed of members elected directly by the electorate.
One of the advantages of a unicameral legislature is that it speeds up the legisIative process. There is no question of submitting a bill to a second chamber. In spite of this, however, it is possible for unsatisfactory legislation to be hastily passed into law without any check from a second chamber.
Another advantage of a unicameral legislature over bicamerialism is that it cuts down the expense of running the government. The financial burden of paying salaries and other allowances to members of a second chamber is removed. These salaries and allowances can be used for other purposes.
On the other hand is Bicamerialism, Bicameral Legislature is one that contains two houses or chambers. These are the first chamber or the lower house and the second chamber or the upper house.
The most important arguments advanced in favour of a second chamber include the following:-
- It is a safeguard against the despotism of a single chamber.
- A second chamber makes it possible for people of political and administrative experience and ability to be brought into public life and made available for the service of the state.
- It serves as a check upon hasty and ill-considered legislation.
- ln federal states, the second chamber affords an opportunity for giving representation to the component units of the federation. This helps to create a sense of equality among the component units.
Like the unicameral system, however, bicameralism has its own disadvantages. It is usually very expensive and may also lead to unhealthy competition between the two houses.
In this process, Important national issues may be unnecessarily delayed.
Britain, Nigeria and the United States are examples of states where bicameralism is practised. The British parliament consists of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. In Nigeria, the National Assembly consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate while the American Congress is also made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Definition of Unicameral Legislature
The Unicameral Legislature provide for only one legislative house. This type of legislature is most practiced in a unitary state e.g. Turkey, New Zealand, Denmark and the State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria.
Merits of Uni-cameral Legislature
- The legislative process is always shorter than the two chamber houses, thus enabling laws to be made quickly.
- It is less expensive and easier to operate it avoid deIay and duplication of functions.
- It is best suited for small size countries with homogenous society.
- Since it is composed of elected representatives, it appears to be more democratic. Unlike a situation where members of the Upper House are imposed via appointment and nomination i.e. Britain.
- Being a single chamber, there is likely to be no basis for rivalry.
Demerits of Uni-cameral Legislature
- It may not adequately deal with the volume of modem legislation, thus hasty and ill considered legislative process may occur.
- Under a state with one party system, the existence of single chamber may engender arbitrary law and rule.
- A single chamber may not be desirable for heterogeneous societies.
Definition of Bicameral Legislature
This is a legislative that provide for two Houses of legislature. Under this arrangement, there is the upper House and the lower House. Examples of countries with this legislature include United States, Britain and Nigeria (National Level).
In Britain the upper House and the lower House are called House of Lords and House of Commons. In Nigeria and USA, the two chambers are called the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Merits of Bi-cameral Legislature
- The existence of a second chamber act as a check on hasty passage of bills.
- It gives room for equal representation of status in countries operating a federal system of government.
- It provides opportunities for national statesmen who dislike partisan politics to render their services to the state e.g. in Britain.
- It relives the first chamber of the volume of legislation, thereby preventing delay in decision making processes.
Demerits of Bi-cameral Legislature
- It tends to create the problem power sharing leading to rivalry and competition between them.
- It is always difficult to hold a chamber responsible for bad legislation.
- It is too expensive in items of salaries and allowances of members and other staff of the two houses.
- More time are spent-in the conduct of legislation.