Unicameral Legislature | Definition, Merits & Demerits

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Unicameral Legislature | Definition, Merits & Demerits

Unicameral Legislature
Unicameral Legislature

Uni-cameral Legislature | Definition

Unicameralism is the existence of one legislative chamber in a country. Legislative functions are performed by only one chamber, with members directly elected by the electorate.

Bulgaria and Israel are examples of uni-cameral legislatures.

Pros and Cons of Unicameralism

Advantages Of Unicameral Legislature

The major advantages of unicameral legislature derive largely from the shortcomings of bicameralism. Some of its merits are:

  • The system is suitable for small countries which are homogeneous in their population and social and political institutions and outlook.
  • There is only one house. Hence, it is easy to locate responsibility.
  • The structure is simple, easy and understandable.
  • It prevents duplication, waste and unnecessary expenditure.
  • The process of law-making is quick and less cumbersome and it is easily adaptable to emergency situation.
  • Some of the problems associated with a bicameral legislature are avoided in unicameralism. For instance, it overcomes the perennial conflicts between two houses, which are common in a bicameral legislature.
  • Unicameralism also helps to avoid the problems of determining the qualification of Senators. In several countries, for instance, the upper house is seen as a dumping ground for old ‘War horses’ and retired statesmen who may have more interest in political patronage than anything else. There is no room for such people in a unicameral legislature.
  • Unicameralism promotes national unity and political stability as aptly show by Central European countries.

Disadvantages Of Unicameral Legislature

The main disadvantages of unicameral legislature include the following:

  • It is difficult to provide adequate representation for minorities and conflicting interests. In fact, unicameralism erroneously assumes that the people are essentially uniform in their aspirations and interests.
  • Unicameral Legislature may result in the tyranny of one house, as there are no checks and balances, which a second house would have provided.
  • There may be undue radicalism in the house.
  • Debates in the house are likely to be pedestrian and boring since there is no strong challenge to the house.
  • It is not suitable for large countries, and federal states, in particular.
  • The single house may turn out to be a mere appendage of the executive.
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