Bicameral legislature is a form of governance in many countries where instead of one there are two legislatures. This form of governance is known as bicameralism. Most democracies of the world have separation of powers. There is the executive, which is usually the cabinet headed by the president or prime minister. There is the judiciary, headed by the chief justice or a Supreme Court judge. In many judiciaries, there is a group of judges in the Supreme Court and there is a chief justice. Then there is the legislature. The legislature or legislative body is the lawmaking wing of the government.
Bicameral legislature will have two houses or bodies reserving the duty and the right to make laws. Lawmaking is the sole prerogative of legislatives. In the United Kingdom, there are House of Lords and House of Commons, similar to the Senate and the House of Representatives in the United States or the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha in India.
Bicameral legislature can exist at the national or federal level and at a local or regional level for states or provinces. Even within a state, there can be an upper house and a lower house, both with legislative responsibilities. Bicameralism or bicameral legislature has certain pros and cons. The system has been debated by all democracies and has emerged as a system that people don’t wish to do away with. Here is an assessment of the bicameral legislature pros and cons.
List of Pros of Bicameral Legislature
1. Democracy With Adequate Representation
Bicameral legislature emanates from the concept of representative democracy. Bigger or more populous countries, especially those that have many provinces or states and a diverse society need people to be represented adequately at all levels of governance. Right from the municipal corporations to the senate or upper house, the entire populace must be properly represented. It is not possible to have adequate representation in a cabinet or even in one house of lawmakers. Hence, lawmaking is divided into two houses at different levels. This allows more representatives to be elected, thus allowing every section of the society to have its voice heard and presented at lawmaking institutions. A large country is bound to have people of difference ethnicities or races. There will be people from various socioeconomic sections of the society. There will be cultural and political differences as well. To truly be the voice of everyone in the country, there must be enough lawmakers representing every section. In a unicameral legislature, it is easy for a few people from select sections or majorities to get elected and that would not be true representation.
2. Better Laws
In the United States, there are fewer senators than representatives. The Congress allows a much larger number of lawmakers to be elected. If only two people get elected from a state, they may not be able to think of the best laws suited for the people. With more people representing the views, needs and desires of the entire populace, there can be better laws. It is not just laws that would be better but also policies. The policies framed by the legislature have a far-reaching impact on the lives of the people, the economy and also the world. Bicameral legislature ensures that there are better, wiser and more foolproof laws.
3. Limiting Abuse Of Power
Bicameral legislature instills the balance that is needed to check the abuse of power by any one section. Allow the majority to have a free run and they will create laws or frame policies that will benefit only the majority or those who stand to gain. Allow the minority or leaders of certain sections of the populace to dictate policies and they would indulge in appeasement. No single section of the community or the population in a country can dictate terms or make laws that will benefit them at the cost of harming others. This balance or limiting the abuse of power is achieved with bicameral legislature. What the senate wants can be blocked by the representatives and the senate can stop a piece of legislation passed by populist representatives if it is not in the best larger interest of the country.
List of Cons of Bicameral Legislature
1. Unreasonable Roadblocks
In a bicameral legislature, both legislative bodies must work together to pass a law. If the two houses are not on the same page, then there can be a perpetual dead end. If no consensus is reached, then a piece of legislation or a proposed law may take a backseat and might be stuck for the rest of the term. If the same people or people with the same standpoints get elected again to the legislative bodies then the law or policy can be in perpetual backburner.
2. Waste Of Resources
Bicameral legislature can compel a to and fro that will cost the exchequer in wasted hours, the deadlocks fuel lobbying and can facilitate corruption, no business may be conducted in the legislative bodies which is again a futile waste of taxpayers’ money since the lawmakers do get paid for no work and effectively the elected representatives have a merry time not doing their job in the garb of conflict of opinion and ideologies.