Lower house

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A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.1

Inside the Australian House of Representatives

Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide, the lower house has come to wield more power.

A legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.

Common attributes

In comparison with the upper house, lower houses frequently display certain characteristics:

  • In a parliamentary system
    • Much more power, usually based on restrictions against the upper house
    • Able to override the upper house in some ways
    • Has total or original control over budget and monetary laws
    • Can vote a motion of no confidence against the government
  • In a presidential system:
    • Little less power, as the upper house alone gives advice and consent to some executives decisions (e.g. appointments)
    • Given the sole power to impeach the executive (the upper house then tries the impeachment)
  • Always elected directly, while the upper house may be elected indirectly, or not elected at all
  • Its members may be elected with a different voting system to the upper house.
  • Most populated administrative divisions are better represented than in the upper house; representation is usually proportional to population.
  • Elected more frequently
  • Elected all at once, not by staggered terms
  • In a parliamentary system, can be dissolved by the executive
  • More members (except in the UK)
  • Lower age of candidacy than the upper house

Titles of lower houses

Common names

Dáil Éireann, Republic of Ireland

Many lower houses are named in the following manner: House/Chamber of Representatives/the People/Commons/Deputies.

Unique Names

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Bicameralism (1997) by George Tsebelis

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