Unicameral Legislature | Definition, Merits & Demerits
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.