What is Bicameral?

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The term bicameral refers to being composed of two legislative branches or chambers. The word originated from Latin and is a combination of “bi” and “camera”. Bi means “two,” while camera translates to “chamber” in English.

Bicameralism is the term used to refer to a government system, wherein two chambers or branches are granted with legislative power. For instance, a government which has an upper house and a lower house is considered to be bicameral. Similarly, a government which is divided into a chamber of deputies and a senate also employs a bicameral system.

In some types of governments which are considered bicameral, the two legislative chambers have equal power. However, in some cases, one branch obviously has greater power compared to the other one. In federal systems, bicameral legislature is very common. One example is the government of the United States.

Some political analysts assert that a bicameral system increases the risk of deadlock and only makes political reforms harder to attain successfully. Furthermore, they believe that there is an even greater risk of deadlock when the two legislative chambers are vested with equal powers. On the other hand, some political scientists strongly believe that the bicameral model is advantageous. According to them, this system provides the checks and balances that can help prevent legislations, which are made under poor judgment, to be passed and made into laws.

The bicameral model is commonly implemented in the North America, Western Europe, Southwest Asia, South America, East Asia, and Central Asia. On the other hand, this model is rarely used in the Middle East and in African regions. Some examples of countries which have bicameral legislature include the United States of America, Canada, Philippines, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Australia, India, Austria, Mexico, Italy, Pakistan, Japan, Switzerland, Ireland, Russia, Malaysia, Spain, and the Netherlands.

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