List of abolished upper houses

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This is a list of abolished upper houses of bicameral legislatures and parliaments at national and lower levels of government. The reasons for abolition include removal of unelected houses, under-representation of ethnic/religious minorities, under-representation of women, cost-cutting in government expenditure, longer and unlimited terms in office (leading to accusations of monarchism), and to speed up the process of legislation due to upper house scrutiny.

Australia[edit]

The Legislative Council of Queensland was the upper house of the Parliament of Queensland and was entirely appointed by the Governor of Queensland. The Labor Government of Ted Theodore made the necessary appointments, and on 27 October 1921, the Legislative Council voted itself out of existence. All other Australian states continue to have bicameral systems.

Canada[edit]

Provincial-level[edit]

Some Canadian provinces once possessed upper houses, but abolished them to adopt unicameral systems. Newfoundland had a Legislative Council prior to joining Canada, as did Ontario when it was Upper Canada. Manitoba had an upper chamber until it was abolished in 1876, New Brunswick's upper chamber was abolished in 1892, Prince Edward Island's upper chamber was abolished in 1893, Nova Scotia's upper chamber was abolished in 1928 and Québec's upper chamber was abolished in 1968.[1]

Federal[edit]

Both the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois have called for the abolition of the Senate of Canada; furthermore, the NDP does not actively hold seats in the Senate due to its abstention from the House, and has called for a referendum on the abolition of the Senate.[2] Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stated that the Senate "must either change or—like the old upper houses of our provinces—vanish".[3]

Support for the abolition of the Senate has been voiced by the premiers of five provinces: Ontario,[4] British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia .

Estonia[edit]

According to the 1938 Constitution, the Riigikogu had two chambers, which replaced the unicameral system. The lower chamber was called Riigivolikogu and the upper chamber was named Riiginõukogu. Both chambers were disbanded in 1940, following the Soviet occupation, and rigged[5] elections for only the lower chamber Riigivolikogu were held. According to the 1992 Constitution of Estonia, the parliament is once again unicameral.[6]

India[edit]

The Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council is the upper house of the state legislature in India. The states of West Bengal, Punjab and Tamil Nadu abolished the Vidhan Parishad in their legislatures. The Vidhan Parishad of Andhra Pradesh was abolished in 1985 but revived again in 2006.[7]

New Zealand[edit]

The (appointed) New Zealand Legislative Council was abolished in 1951.

United States[edit]

Federal[edit]

In addition to calls for the abolition of the electoral college for presidential elections, a smaller minority of political activists have called for the abolition of the United States Senate.[8][9]

State-level[edit]

Nebraska is the only state in the United States to have a unicameral legislature, which it achieved when it abolished its lower house in 1934. During the governorship of Jesse Ventura in Minnesota, he called for the state to have a unicameral legislature.

Other countries[edit]

Croatia (2001), Denmark (1953), Egypt (2013), Greece (1935), Hungary, South Korea (1960), Peru (1992), Portugal (1910), Sweden (1970), Turkey (1980) and Venezuela (1999) once possessed upper houses but abolished them to adopt unicameral systems.

In October 2013, a constitutional referendum in the Republic of Ireland proposed the establishment a unicameral system by abolishing Seanad Éireann, the upper house of parliament.[10][11] The proposal was narrowly rejected by a margin of 51.7% against vs. 48.3% in favour.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, Audrey O’Brien and Marc Bosc, 2009
  2. ^ Layton urges referendum on abolishing Senate, Steve Lambert, Toronto Star, Nov 04, 2007
  3. ^ CBC News (2007-09-11). "Senate should vanish if it's not reformed: Harper". CBC.ca. Retrieved 2007-09-30. 
  4. ^ CBC News (2006-03-03). "Ontario premier ponders getting rid of Senate". CBC.ca. Retrieved 2006-12-03. 
  5. ^ Justice in The Baltic at Time magazine on Monday, August 19, 1940
  6. ^ The legislative bodies of the Republic of Estonia
  7. ^ "Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council History". National Informatics Centre. Retrieved 2010-09-03. 
  8. ^ Abolish the Senate!, by Timothy Noah, Slate.com
  9. ^ The Black Hole Option: Abolish the Senate, by Bob Fertik, democrats.com
  10. ^ Burke Kennedy, Eoin (5 June 2013). "Government publishes Seanad abolition referendum details". The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "Thirty-second Amendment of the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Éireann) Bill 2013". Bills 1992–2013. Oireachtas. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  12. ^ McGee, Harry; Carroll, Steven (5 October 2013). "Seanad to be retained after Government loses referendum". Irish Times. Retrieved 5 October 2013.