Which chamber system offers greater deliberation?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Your question suggests you wish to understand the difference between a unicameral legislature and a bicameral one. A unicameral legislature has one chamber, and a bicameral legislature has two chambers. Which one offers greater deliberation?

The answer to your question depends on what you mean by deliberation, but let's assume deliberation is equal to thoughtful debate which produces effective legislation. That is, debate which results in laws with a clear purpose, and legislation which, when enacted, accomplishes that purpose.

A unicameral legislature might give you better debate, since everyone who can affect the making of a law is in theory present during its creation. There's no waiting for another chamber to register its views or attempt to modify bills under consideration. Decisions can be taken quicker, and agreement is more robust.

A bicameral legislature might give you better legislation, because a greater diversity of representation is possible and because the chambers can check and balance each other. Laws tend to be more tractable, fairer, and less subject to whims of interpretation.

So, which is better? If a unicameral legislature gives you better debate, and a bicameral legislature gives you better laws, how do you get better deliberation. Recall that, above, we agreed deliberation was a two-part thing.

Historically, bicameral legislatures have been most closely associated with freedom and democracy, and unicameral legislatures have been associated with less free societies, but unicameral legislatures are more common. There are exceptions, however. Ancient Greece convened a unicameral assembly. So did the ancient Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. Today, the best examples of unicameral-ism are China, Cuba, Israel, Sweden, and Finland. Contemporary examples of bicameralism are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Canada, and Australia.

With some caveats and exceptions, therefore, you can make a strong argument that, because of its checks and balances and more effective laws, bicameral systems give you better deliberation. It depends on the circumstances of individual countries. Watching the US Congress deliberate can be stultifying, while watching Israel's Knesset make legislation is frequently exciting and contentious.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team