What Is a bicameral arrangement ?

A bicameral system describes a government that has a two-house legislative system, such as the House of Representatives and the Senate that make up the U.S. Congress. The son bicameral is derived from the romance : ” bismuth ” ( meaning two ) and “ camera ” ( meaning chamber ). The british Parliament, a bicameral system, has been the model for most parliamentary systems around the worldly concern.

A bicameral system can be contrasted with a unicameral system, in which all members of the legislature consider and vote as a single group. The legislative branch of the U.S. federal government uses a bicameral system, in accession to all of the U.S. states, with the exception of Nebraska. U.S. cities, by contrast, normally use the unicameral system.

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Key Takeaways

  • A bicameral system is a government style with two separate divisions within the legislative branch of government.
  • The U.S. bicameral system is divided into the House of Representatives and the Senate.
  • The majority of international governments use the unicameral system—with a roughly 60/40 split between unicameral and bicameral.
  • Each house of the legislative branch has differing powers to ensure there are checks and balances within the system. 
  • The more populous House of Representatives branch has less stringent requirements for members when it comes to age and citizenship length compared to the Senate.

How a Bicameral System Works

In a bicameral system, the two chambers of the legislative body can have different organizations, rules, methods of selecting members, and designated powers regarding the legislation and oversight of the other branches of the government. In the U.S., the other branches of the government are the executive arm and the judiciary branch .

There are both virtual and historical reasons to have two houses of the legislature. A practical cause for a bicameral system is to routine as part of the larger system of checks and balances that balance the power of different parts of a politics or a society. By dividing power within the legislative branch, bicameralism helps prevent the legislative branch from having besides much power—a kind of intrabranch match. Within the legislative body, bicameralism has historically functioned to balance the baron of different social classes or groups within a society .

The bicameral system arose in medieval Europe. Sharp course distinctions between the nobility, the clergy, and the commoners meant that these classes were represented by offprint groups of representatives, which were charged with advising the king on matters related to and representing the interests of their respective social spheres. In England, these groups finally developed into the House of Lords and the House of Commons. In the modern U.K., the House of Lords is still considered a more elect body, while the House of Commons represents a larger, more common class .

The U.S. bicameral system arose from a desire to have a balance system within the legislative branch and to address a disagreement over how states would be allocated representation.

history of Bicameralism in the U.S.

The bicameral system in the U.S. consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate—collectively known as the U.S. Congress. Article 1, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution establishes that the U.S. Congress consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives .

During the Constitutional Convention, America ’ south founders could not agree on whether the states should each have the same numeral of representatives or whether the number of representatives should be based on the population size. In an agreement known as the Great Compromise, the founders decided to incorporate both elements : the bicameral system was established .

Like the two houses of the English Parliament, the two chambers within the U.S. legislative were besides intended to represent unlike stakeholders within the U.S. The Senate was designed to represent the interests of the States ( Senators were primitively appointed by the submit legislatures, not elected ), and the House of Representatives was intended to be elected by and represent the interests of the common people. This is besides reflected in the powers delegated to each family by the Constitution, with the Senate given a more deliberative, advisory, and oversight role, while the House of Representatives was given basal authority over the tax income of their constituents .

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives serve biennial terms. biennial terms are meant to keep representatives reactive to voters ’ needs. There are 435 representatives in full, with the number from each express being in proportion to that state ’ second population. This system is called proportional representation. Alabama, for exemplar, has seven representatives, while California has 53. The seven least-populous states—Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming—have only one example each .


The foremost exemplify of british bicameralism occurred in 1341. When the Commons met individually from the nobility and clergy for the first prison term, an Upper Chamber and a Lower Chamber were efficaciously created. The U.S. adopted a bicameral system after its establish .

department of state Governments

Each submit besides has two Senators ( a system called equal representation ) who are directly elected by voters and serve six-year terms. Before the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1913, the state legislatures got to choose Senators. These positions tended to be held by the elites .

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Each house has different requirements to serve. To be a U.S. representative, you must be at least 25 years erstwhile, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and a resident of the department of state you want to represent. To be a U.S. Senator, you must be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least nine years, and a house physician of the state you want to represent .

Each house besides has singular powers. alone members of the House of Representatives can criminally indict ( impeach ) the President and other federal officials ; the Senate then reviews the case. The House besides decides presidential elections if no campaigner wins a majority of electoral college votes. And any circular that increases taxes originates in the House, which is why the House of Representatives is said to have the “ exponent of the bag. ” The Senate votes to confirm the appointment of more than 1,000 executive officers, and it can ratify treaties with a two-thirds vote .

Bicameralism vs. Unicameralism

Worldwide, about 41 % of governments are bicameral and about 59 % are unicameral. other countries that have a bicameral system include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, the U.K., Ireland, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, and the Czech Republic .

The size, term of office, and method acting of election ( directly elected, indirectly elected, appointed, or other ) for each bedroom of a bicameral system will vary by nation. unicameral systems became more popular during the twentieth hundred, and some countries, including Greece, New Zealand, and Peru, switched systems from bicameral to unicameral .

What Does Bicameral Mean?

Bicameral literally means “ two chambers, ” and in practice refers to a politics structure involving two houses, or two legislative bodies, that are distinguish in deliberation from one another .

Why Did the U.S. Constitution Establish a Bicameral Legislature?

The Founders of the U.S. established a bicameral legislature in order to create a separation of powers. At the constitutional convention, larger states ( largely in the South ) and smaller states ( in the North ) began to quarrel over which should wield more exponent at the federal horizontal surface. As a compromise ( called “ The Great Compromise, ” Roger Sherman, a delegate from the colony of Connecticut, proposed bicameralism. This way, smaller states got equal representation with larger states with each having two senators. At the lapp clock, the house of representatives delegate members of congress proportional to the population .

Which U.S. States Do Not Have a Bicameral Legislature?

All states in the U.S. but one are bicameral with both a theater and a senate. The one exception is Nebraska, which has just a one-chamber legislature .

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