Unicameral - History

Unicameral - History

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Unicameral legislatures exist when there is no widely perceived need for multicameralism. Many multicameral legislatures were created to give separate voices to different sectors of society. Multiple chambers allowed for example for a guaranteed representation of different social classes (as in the Parliament of the United Kingdom or the French States-General). Sometimes, as in New Zealand and Denmark, unicameralism comes about through the abolition of one of two bicameral chambers, or, as in Sweden, through the merger of the two chambers into a single one, while in others a second chamber has never existed from the beginning.

The principal advantage of a unicameral system is more democratic and efficient lawmaking, as the legislative process is simpler and there is no possibility of deadlock between two chambers. Proponents of unicameralism have also argued that it reduces costs, even if the number of legislators stay the same, since there are fewer institutions to maintain and support it financially. Proponents of bicameral legislatures allege that this offers the opportunity to re-debate and correct errors in either chamber in parallel, and in some cases to introduce legislation in either chamber.

The main weakness of a unicameral system can be seen as alleged lack of restraint on the majority, particularly noticeable in parliamentary systems where the leaders of the parliamentary majority also dominate the executive. There is also the risk that important sectors of society [ specify ] may not be adequately represented by the elected singular body.

Approximately half of the world's sovereign states are currently unicameral. The People's Republic of China is somewhat in between, with a legislature and a formal advisory body. China has a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference which meets alongside the National People's Congress, in many respects an advisory "upper house".

National (UN member states and observers) Edit

Federal Edit

    of the Comoros of Iraq (provision exists for the founding of a "Council of Union", but no move to this effect has been initiated by the existing Council) of Micronesia of Saint Kitts and Nevis of the United Arab Emirates of Venezuela

Unitary Edit

Africa Edit
    of Angola of Benin of Botswana of Burkina Faso of Cape Verde of the Central African Republic of Chad of Djibouti of Eritrea of the Gambia of Ghana of Guinea of Guinea-Bissau of Libya of Malawi of the Maldives of Mali of Mauritania of Mauritius of Mozambique of Niger of São Tomé and Príncipe of Senegal of Seychelles of Sierra Leone of Tanzania of Togo of Tunisia of Uganda of Zambia
Americas Edit
Asia Edit
    of Bangladesh of Brunei of the People's Republic of China - though they also have a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference which is effectively an advisory "upper house". of East Timor of Iran of North Korea of South Korea of Kuwait of Kyrgyzstan of Laos of Lebanon of Mongolia of the State of Palestine of Qatar of Saudi Arabia (most powers are reserved for the King) of Singapore of Sri Lanka of Syria of Vietnam
Europe Edit
    of Albania of Armenia of Azerbaijan of Bulgaria of Croatia of Denmark of Estonia of Finland of Georgia of Greece of Hungary of Iceland of Israel of Latvia of Liechtenstein of Lithuania of Luxembourg of Malta of Moldova of Monaco of Montenegro of North Macedonia of Norway of Portugal of San Marino of Serbia of Slovakia of Sweden of Turkey of Ukraine for Vatican City State
Oceania Edit

Territorial Edit

State parliaments with limited recognition Edit

Subnational Edit

Federations Edit

  • All legislatures and legislative councils of the regions and communities of Belgium
  • All legislative assemblies in all states of Brazil
  • All legislative assemblies of the provinces and territories of Canada
  • All Landtage of the states of Germany
  • All legislative assemblies of the states of Malaysia
  • All legislatures in all states of Mexico
  • All legislatures of the provinces in Nepal
  • All legislatures of the provinces and territories in Pakistan
  • The legislature of the state of Nebraska, and council of the District of Columbia in the United States of Queensland and the legislative assemblies of the territories of Australia (but not the other states) of the provinces of South Africa of Republika Srpska
  • 15 of the provinces of Argentina – Chaco, Chubut, Córdoba, Formosa, Jujuy, La Pampa, La Rioja, Misiones, Neuquén, Río Negro, San Juan, Santa Cruz, Santiago del Estero, Tierra del Fuego, Tucumán and the autonomous city of Buenos Aires.
  • 22 of the states of India – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal and 3 of the union territories – Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Puducherry.

Devolved governments Edit

Other Edit

National Edit

  • The First Protectorate Parliament and Second Protectorate Parliament of the Kingdom of England, regulated by the Instrument of Government (dissolved) of the Kingdom of Scotland until 1707 (dissolved) was unicameral before being replaced in 1789 by the current, bicameral United States Congress. of the Confederate States was unicameral before being replaced by the bicameral Confederate States Congress in 1862. of Second Spanish Republic was unicameral between 1931 and 1936. Dissolved at the end of Spanish Civil War of Uzbekistan was unicameral before being replaced in 2005 by the current, bicameral Supreme Assembly. of Cameroon was unicameral before being replaced in 2013 by the current, bicameral Parliament of Cameroon. of Equatorial Guinea was unicameral before being replaced in 2013 by the current, bicameral Parliament of Equatorial Guinea. of Kenya was the country's unicameral legislature before becoming the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of Kenya in 2013. of Ivory Coast was the country's unicameral legislature before becoming the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of Ivory Coast in 2016.

Subnational Edit

Other Edit

A 2018 study found that efforts to adopt unicameralism in Ohio and Missouri failed due to rural opposition. [1] There was a fear in rural communities that unicameralism would diminish their influence in state government. [1]

Local government legislatures of counties, cities, or other political subdivisions within states are usually unicameral and have limited lawmaking powers compared to their state and federal counterparts.

Some of the 13 colonies which became independent, such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New Hampshire had initially introduced strong unicameral legislature and (relatively) less powerful governors with no veto power. Pennsylvania's constitution lasted only 14 years. In 1790, conservatives gained power in the state legislature, called a new constitutional convention, and rewrote the constitution. The new constitution substantially reduced universal male suffrage, gave the governor veto power and patronage appointment authority, and added an upper house with substantial wealth qualifications to the unicameral legislature. Thomas Paine called it a constitution unworthy of America.

In 1999, Governor Jesse Ventura proposed converting the Minnesota Legislature into a single chamber. [2] Although debated, the idea was never adopted.

Seven U.S. states, Arizona, Idaho, Maryland, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington, effectively have two-house unicamerals. In these states, districts in the upper house and the lower house are combined into a single constituency, a practice known as nesting.

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico held a non-binding referendum in 2005. Voters approved changing its Legislative Assembly to a unicameral body by 456,267 votes in favor (83.7%) versus 88,720 against (16.3%). [3] If both the territory's House of Representatives and Senate had approved by a 2 ⁄ 3 vote the specific amendments to the Puerto Rico Constitution that are required for the change to a unicameral legislature, another referendum would have been held in the territory to approve such amendments. If those constitutional changes had been approved, Puerto Rico could have switched to a unicameral legislature as early as 2015.

On June 9, 2009, the Maine House of Representatives voted to form a unicameral legislature, but the measure did not pass the Senate. [4]

Because of legislative gridlock in 2009, former Congressman Rick Lazio, a prospective candidate for governor, has proposed that New York adopt unicameralism. [5]

The United States as a whole was subject to a unicameral Congress during the years 1781–1788, when the Articles of Confederation were in effect. The Confederate States of America, pursuant to its Provisional Constitution, in effect from February 8, 1861, to February 22, 1862, was governed by a unicameral Congress. [6]

Though the current Congress of the Philippines is bicameral, the country experienced unicameralism in 1898 and 1899 (during the First Philippine Republic), from 1935 to 1941 (the Commonwealth era) and from 1943 to 1944 (during the Japanese occupation). Under the 1973 Constitution, the legislative body was called Batasang Pambansa, which functioned also a unicameral legislature within a parliamentary system (1973-1981) and a semi-presidential system (1981-1986) form of government.

The ongoing process of amending or revising the current Constitution and form of government is popularly known as Charter Change. A shift to a unicameral parliament was included in the proposals of the constitutional commission created by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. [7] Unlike in the United States, senators in the Senate of the Philippines are elected not per district and state but nationally the Philippines is a unitary state. [8] The Philippine government's decision-making process, relative to the United States, is more rigid, highly centralised, much slower and susceptible to political gridlock. As a result, the trend for unicameralism as well as other political system reforms are more contentious in the Philippines. [9]

While Congress is bicameral, all local legislatures are unicameral: the Bangsamoro Parliament, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Boards), Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Councils), Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Councils), Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Councils) and the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Councils).

Uniquely Unicameral

The late U.S. Senator George Norris, one of the most idealistic and incorruptible legislators America has ever produced, used to come up with some clever lines to express his frustrations. "They say we have a system of checks and balances," he would tell his Nebraska constituents. "Well, we do. The politicians cash the checks and the lobbyists keep the balances."

Norris felt sure he understood the core problem with American democracy: dysfunctional legislatures. He spent much of his career dreaming about what an ideal legislature might be like. It would be small, so every member could speak out and have a role in the decisions. It would do all of its business in open session. It would be nonpartisan, so that major issues could be decided on their merits. And it would have one chamber, not two, so that lobbyists didn't distort the intent of bills behind closed doors in conference committees.

Norris never made much headway at reforming Congress, even though he served there 40 years. But toward the end of his career, he finally got a chance to try some of his ideas in a place he cared about deeply: the legislature in his home state, where he complained that government was being run by "Lilliputian politicians for private or partisan advantage."

Advantages of a Unicameral vs. Bicameral System

While the major advantage of a bicameral system is that it can provide for checks and balances and prevent potential abuses of power, it can also lead to gridlock that makes the passage of laws difficult. A major advantage of a unicameral system is that laws can be passed more efficiently. A unicameral system may be able to pass legislation too easily, however, and a proposed law that the ruling class supports may be passed even if the majority of citizens do not support it. Special interest groups may influence a unicameral legislature more easily than a bicameral one, and groupthink may be more likely to occur. Because unicameral systems require fewer legislators than bicameral systems, however, they may require less money to operate. These systems may also introduce fewer bills and have shorter legislative sessions.

A unicameral system for the U.S. government was proposed by the Articles of Confederation in 1781, but the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 created a plan for a bicameral system that was modeled on the English system. America’s founders could not agree on whether the states should each have the same number of representatives or whether the number of representatives should be based on population. The founders decided to do both in an agreement known as the Great Compromise, establishing the bicameral system of the Senate and the House that we still use today.

The U.S. federal government and all the states except Nebraska use a bicameral system while U.S. cities, counties, and school districts commonly use the unicameral system, as do all the Canadian provinces. Initially, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Vermont had unicameral legislatures based on the idea that a true democracy should not have two houses representing an upper class and a common class. Instead, a democracy should have single house representing all people. Each of these states turned to a bicameral system: Georgia in 1789, Pennsylvania in 1790, and Vermont in 1836. Similar to the United States, Australia also has just one state with a unicameral system: Queensland.

A Republican named George Norris successfully campaigned to change Nebraska’s legislature from a bicameral to a unicameral system in 1937. Norris claimed that the bicameral system was outdated, inefficient, and unnecessary. Norris said a unicameral system could maintain a system of checks and balances by relying on the power of citizens to vote and petition and by relying on the Supreme Court and the governor on matters that required another opinion. Further, a bill may only contain one subject and may not pass until five days after its introduction. Most Nebraska bills also receive a public hearing and each bill must be voted on separately three times.

Some countries with unicameral systems have always held such a system while others have changed at some point by merging two houses or abolishing one. New Zealand abolished its upper house in the early 1950s when the Opposition party took control from the Labour party and voted to do away with the upper house.

Current salaries From 1 April 2020, the salary of a Member of the Scottish Parliament is £64,470. Additional amounts are paid to ministers and officers of the Parliament. Both the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland receive the equivalent of an MSP salary included with their Law Officer salaries.

Bute House in Charlotte Square in Edinburgh’s New Town serves as the First Minister’s official residence while working in the capital, including during the Parliamentary week.


Nebraska, which was admitted to the union as the 37th state on March 1, 1867, two years after the end of the American Civil War, contains some of the nation’s best ranchland and farmland. Prior to its statehood, the Nebraska Territory had been sparsely settled but saw growth during the California Gold Rush in 1848, with a larger wave of settlers arriving as homesteaders in the 1860s. Although the territorial capital of Nebraska was Omaha, when it achieved statehood the seat of government was moved to Lancaster, which was later renamed Lincoln after President Abraham Lincoln, who had recently been assassinated. Nebraska is bounded by South Dakota to the north, Kansas and Colorado to the South, Wyoming to the West and Iowa and Missouri to the East.

Date of Statehood: March 1, 1867

Did you know? The popular drink Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1927. The brainchild of Edwin Perkins, Kool-Aid is the state’s official soft drink.

The Unicameral’s Unwritten Rules

Policy-making has always been a delicate business with a lot of formal rules that must be followed. But as Nebraska State Senator Bill Avery explains in the Spring 2013 issue of Nebraska History, there is an equally important set of unspoken “folkways” that regulate the Nebraska Unicameral.

Opening day of Nebraska's first unicameral legislative session, January 5, 1937. U. S. Senator George Norris, a staunch advocate of unicameralism, is standing on the back of the platform. RG2183-1937-105-2 (above).

As in any professional setting, respect is vital. Avery explains how collegiality is especially important in such a small legislature where it is possible to get to know everyone. Members are addressed as “Senator,” debates should not become personal, and profanity is prohibited.

This respect also means acknowledging others’ areas of expertise. Since issues come through the legislature on a wide variety of topics, senators who try to be a main player in every bill may lose credibility it is better for senators to specialize on specific areas. It is considered rude to undermine the authority of committees by using formal rules, since legislators generally belong to a committee based on their particular interests and skills.

Another folkway concerns legislators’ relationships with lobbyists. Avery describes the push and pull between needing lobbyists and checking their power.

“Members always have recognized…that lobbyists are an important and vital part of the legislative process. To be sure, lobbyists are advocates for special interests, but more importantly they are sources of information. In order to perform their duties in a rational and informed manner, senators rely on lobbyists to provide them with reliable and factual information on the vast number of issues they confront in every session. Despite the need for lobbyists, senators are expected to respect the arm’s length relationship that has evolved over the decades…Members do not enhance their standing among their colleagues if they are perceived to be a consistent voice for a particular segment of the lobby in making policy.”

On the floor of the Unicameral, from "Nebraska for the People, Part 1: Legislature," a 1974 documentary film produced by University of Nebraska television.

The stereotype is that all unspoken rules in politics have to do with back-room deals and party dogma. However, as Senator Avery illustrates, many unspoken rules in the Unicameral serve to make it more efficient and professional. Whether helpful or not, these folkways are a part of our state leadership, and understanding them can better help us understand the political decisions that affect us all.

Unicameral (Simple) Bone Cyst Clinical Presentation

Most patients with a unicameral (simple) bone cyst (UBC) present to the orthopedic surgeon after sustaining a pathologic fracture. Such fractures most commonly involve either the proximal humerus or the proximal femur. The events leading up to the fracture may range from fairly trivial (eg, throwing a ball) to more substantial (eg, a hard fall while playing soccer). As with all patients who have sustained a fracture, a careful physical examination of the patient should include efforts to exclude the possibility of an open fracture and a neurocirculatory insult.

In other instances, patients may present to emergency department physicians, their primary care physicians, or orthopedic surgeons for other reasons, and radiographs obtained in the workup of other complaints may identify asymptomatic UBCs. Such incidental diagnosis of "a bone tumor" may be quite disconcerting to the child's parents and family. Random bone tumor discussions with such a child's family are contraindicated. Medical personnel who eagerly deliver well-intentioned but inaccurate discussions of bone tumors often needlessly terrify families.

In either scenario, a review of the patient's past history, as well as their family's past history relative to fractures, rheumatologic conditions, bone tumors, endocrine disease, and cancer, is appropriate. Physical examination of the patient should also include a screening examination of the axial skeleton and the uninvolved extremities. Any other identified abnormalities may require further plain radiographs. [41] Palpation of major lymph node areas (eg, the axillary and inguinal fields) is also appropriate infection and malignancy are part of the differential diagnosis.


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Fahey JJ, O'Brien ET. Subtotal resection and grafting in selected cases of solitary unicameral bone cyst. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1973 Jan. 55 (1):59-68. [Medline]. [Full Text].

McKay DW, Nason SS. Treatment of unicameral bone cysts by subtotal resection without grafts. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1977 Jun. 59 (4):515-9. [Medline]. [Full Text].

Ibe IK, Alder KD, Henderson SE, Yu KE, Lee FY. Excisional Curettage of Benign Cystic Lesions. JBJS Essent Surg Tech. 2019 Jul-Sep. 9 (3):e24. [Medline]. [Full Text].

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Mitchell EP, Fugle MJ, Limbert AB. The treatment of unicameral bone cysts with injections of methylprednisolone acetate: a case study and review of the literature. J Am Osteopath Acad Orthop. 1983. 2:19-23.

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Nebraska’s Nonpartisan, Unicameral Legislature Is A Model Of Deliberative Democracy

The Nebraska state legislature, which meets in Lincoln, is the only unicameral state legislature in the US and was specifically designed in the 1930s with multiple features to foster deliberative democracy by enhancing transparency and downplaying party politics. I don’t think Nebraska senators are, overall, any better than those of other states, but I think they operate somewhat more rationally than others because the system is set up to encourage genuine deliberation, which is good for everyone.

I’m not suggesting anyone move to Nebraska in order to enjoy its excellent laws. Nebraska legislators, all known as “senators,” are mostly Republican, whereas I have supported the Democratic candidate for president in every election since John Kennedy in 1960, when I was 9 ye ars old. I would have supported Adlai Stevenson over Dwight D. Eisenhower in the first two presidential elections of my life had I known what was going on. So I’m not particularly a fan of Nebraska law.

Nevertheless, I think Nebraska law is better than it would otherwise be because it is generated through a process designed to promote deliberation. There is, in fact, substantial evidence in cognitive and social psychology that democratic deliberation increases the likelihood of rational outcomes. In a time when party politics overwhelms genuine argumentation across the nation, Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, known as “the Unicam,” may be worthy of emulation.

The Unicam was conceived and promoted by George Norris, who represented
Nebraska in the U.S. Congress from 1903 to 1943, first as a Republican member of the House of Representatives, then as a Republican senator, and finally as an Independent senator. Nebraskans voted in 1934 to replace their traditional bicameral legislature with a unicameral legislature, which began operation in 1937.

The Unicam has a single chamber consisting of 49 senators representing 49
legislative districts. Every bill is assigned to a committee of senators, who hold a
public hearing at which anyone may speak. Bills approved by committee may be scheduled to be heard on the floor, where all 49 senators may participate at each stage of deliberation. There are no secret processes or reconciliation committees to resolve differences in bills passed by two chambers.

State senators are elected on a nonpartisan basis. All candidates run in a single
primary the top two go forward to the general election. These are often a Republican and a Democrat, but they are often two Republicans and can be (at least in Lincoln or Omaha) two Democrats.

The operation of the Unicam is also, ideally, nonpartisan. There are no party
caucuses. It is common for senators to work closely with each other on potential bills without regard to party affiliation and to find creative ways to get 25 or more votes from the 49 senators.

There are several checks on quick passage of laws without adequate discussion and debate. For legislation to pass, it must be approved three times over an extended period, usually weeks or months, with deliberation prior to each vote. In addition, although bills can be amended by a majority of those present, approval at each of the three stages of debate requires 25 votes (or more in the case of a filibuster), even if some of the 49 senators are absent or abstain.

Of course, there is always party politics. The 2017 legislative session was a particularly serious challenge to the Unicam’s nonpartisanship and commitment to deliberation. I hope Nebraska can remain a model of democratic deliberation.

So if you’re looking to Nebraska for a model to emulate, don’t look at the football team. Look at the state legislature.

By the way, a unicameral legislature is also less expensive to run than a bicameral legislature. You can be sure that was a factor in the thinking of fiscally conservative Nebraskans when they downsized the legislature. But finances aside, deliberative democracy is a good idea, and we desperately need more of it today. A nonpartisan unicameral legislature is one way to foster that.

Unicameral - History

Parliament is the law-making body made up of elected and appointed politicians who are responsible for making and repealing laws. It is not the same as the government, which runs the country or the province/territory or city/town. The government is usually made up of members of a political party which has elected the most seats in the legislature. Parliament&rsquos responsibility is to ensure the government is running everything properly, including the passing of laws and debating of major issues. It is also responsible for examining government policy and administration.

In this section, we include resources related to the parliaments of each Caribbean country. We have included information on members of each chamber of parliament and the cabinet of each country.

What is parliament?

The term &lsquoParliament&rsquo is usually associated with the British system of parliamentary government, a system which has influenced the development of representative assemblies in many parts of the world. The concept of parliamentary democracy has roots that stretch back thousands of years. The word parliament is derived from the French word parler , which means to speak. The word democracy comes from the Greek word demos , meaning people, and kratia , meaning rule. Therefore, democracy literally means "the people&rsquos rule". This concept dates back about 2,500 years ago to ancient Greece.

The Role and Function of Parliament

Parliament has three main functions:

  • representation (acting on behalf of voters and citizens) - debating the major issues of the day and providing by voting for taxation, the means of carrying on the work of government
  • making and repealing legislation
  • scrutinising (examining) government policy and administration, including proposals for expenditure scrutiny

Parliament doesn't get into the business of running the country, but it is responsible for approving and changing the country's laws. The issues discussed in Parliament affect us all: health, the environment, transport, jobs, schools, crime.

Select Committees

One way members of Parliament 'scrutinise' the government is by regularly meeting in small groups called select committees. These committees can make recommendations to the government on particular issues such as education, health, and the environment.

Dissolving Parliament

By law, a general election must be held and a new Parliament elected, every four to five years. When Parliament is dissolved every seat in the respective house(s) becomes vacant. Members of Parliament immediately revert to being members of the general public and lose all the privileges associated with being a Member of Parliament. Until a new Parliament is elected, MPs do not exist. Those who wish to re-apply must stand again for election as candidates in their constituencies.

Watch the video: Nebraskas Unicameral: A One of a Kind Legislature