Speaker (politics)

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Speakers and presiding officers from various Commonwealth nations meet for a Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers Conference in Wellington, New Zealand, 1984
Marshal's chair in the Sejm, lower chamber of the Polish Parliament

The speaker of a deliberative assembly, especially a legislative body, is its presiding officer, or the chair. The title was first used in 1377 in England.


The speaker's official role is to moderate debate, make rulings on procedure, announce the results of votes, and the like. The speaker decides who may speak and has the powers to discipline members who break the procedures of the chamber or house.[1] The speaker often also represents the body in person, as the voice of the body in ceremonial and some other situations. The title was first recorded in 1377 to describe the role of Thomas de Hungerford in the Parliament of England.[2][3]

By convention, speakers are normally addressed in Parliament as 'Mister Speaker', if a man, or 'Madam Speaker', if a woman. In other cultures other styles are used, mainly being equivalents of English "chairman" or "president". Many bodies also have a speaker pro tempore (or deputy speaker), designated to fill in when the speaker is not available.


The Speaker of the House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the Australian House of Representatives, the lower house of the Parliament of Australia. The President of the Senate is the presiding officer of the Australian Senate, the upper house of the Parliament.


In Canada, the Speaker of the House of Commons is the individual elected to preside over the House of Commons, the elected lower house. The speaker is a Member of Parliament (MP) and is elected at the beginning of each new parliament by fellow MPs. The Speaker's role in presiding over Canada's House of Commons is similar to that of speakers elsewhere in other countries that use the Westminster system. The Speaker does not vote except in the case of a tie. By convention, if required to vote, the Speaker will vote in favour of continuing debate on a matter, but will not ultimately vote for a measure to be approved.

The Speaker of the Senate of Canada is the presiding officer of the Senate of Canada, the appointed upper house. The Speaker represents the Senate at official functions, rules on questions of parliamentary procedure and parliamentary privilege, and presides over debates and voting in the "Red Chamber". The Speaker of the Senate is appointed by the Governor General of Canada from amongst sitting senators upon the advice of the Prime Minister. The Speaker has a vote on all matters. In the event of a tie, the matter fails.

At the provincial level, the presiding officer of the provincial legislatures is called the "Speaker" in all provinces except Quebec, where the term "President" is used. The presiding officer fulfills the same role as the Speaker of the House of Commons.


Parliamentarism in Italy is centered on the Presidents of the two Houses, vested in defense of the members and of the assembly as a whole;[4] so "the Speaker invites the representative of the Government not to deviate from the rules of parliamentary behavior".[5] Now constitutional community highlights changes also in this role.[6]


In Singapore, the Speaker of the Parliament of Singapore is the head officer of the country's legislature. By recent tradition, the Prime Minister nominates a person, who may or may not be an elected Member of Parliament (MP), for the role. The person's name is then proposed and seconded by the MPs, before being elected as Speaker.[7] The Constitution states that Parliament has the freedom to decide how to elect its Speaker.[8]

While the Speaker does not have to be an elected MP, they must possess the qualifications to stand for election as an MP as provided for in the Constitution.[9] The Speaker also cannot be a Cabinet Minister or Parliamentary Secretary,[10] and must resign from those positions prior to being elected as Speaker.

The Speaker is one of the few public sector roles which allow its office-holder to automatically qualify as a candidate in the Singapore presidential elections.[11]

United Kingdom[edit]

Whilst presiding, the Speaker sits in a chair at the front of the House

The Speaker is the individual elected to preside over the elected House of Commons. The speaker is a Member of Parliament (MP) and is elected at the beginning of each new parliament by fellow MPs.

The Lord Speaker is the presiding officer of the House of Lords. The commonly used "Speaker of the House of Lords" is not correct. The presiding officer of the House of Lords was until recently the Lord Chancellor, who was also a member of the government (a cabinet member) and the head of the judicial branch. The Lord Chancellor did not have the same authority to discipline members of the Lords that the speaker of the Commons has in that house. The Lord Speaker is elected by the members of the House of Lords and is expected to be politically impartial.

United States[edit]


Both chambers of the United States Congress have a presiding officer defined by the United States Constitution. The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives presides over the lower house of Congress, the House of Representatives, and is elected to that position by the entire House membership. Unlike in Commonwealth realms, the position is partisan, and the Speaker often plays an important part in running the House and advancing a political platform; Joseph Gurney Cannon, speaker from 1903 to 1911, is an extreme example.

The Vice President of the United States, as provided by the United States Constitution formally presides over the upper house, the Senate. In practice, however, the Vice President has a rare presence in Congress owing to responsibilities in the Executive branch and the fact that the Vice President may only vote to break a tie. In the Vice President's absence, the presiding role is delegated to the most Senior member of the majority party, who is the President pro tempore of the United States Senate. Since the Senate's rules give little power to its non-member presider (who may be of the opposite party), the task of presiding over daily business is typically rotated among junior members of the majority party.


In the forty-nine states that have a bicameral legislature, the highest leadership position in the lower house is usually called the "Speaker" and the upper house is usually the "President of the (State) Senate. In Nebraska—the only state with a unicameral legislature—the senators elect one senator to serve as "Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature". In Tennessee, the senators elect a "Speaker of the Senate" who presides over the Tennessee Senate and serves as lieutenant governor.

Similar posts[edit]

The presiding officer for an upper house of a bicameral legislature usually has a different title, although substantially the same duties. When the upper house is called a senate, the equivalent title is often President of the Senate. Australia, Chile, the United States and many other countries have upper houses with presiding officers titled "president". In several American republics, the vice president of the country serves as the president of the upper house. This pattern is not universal, however. Some upper houses, including those of Canada, have a speaker.

The Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, and Presiding Officer of the Northern Ireland Assembly fulfill the same role as the speaker.

List of current speakers[edit]

Country Legislature (or legislative chamber) Title Incumbent
Albania Parliament of Albania Speaker Ilir Meta
Armenia National Assembly of Armenia President of the National Assembly of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan
Australia Australian House of Representatives Speaker Tony Smith
Austria National Council President of the National Council Wolfgang Sobotka
Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury[12]
 »Parliament of Belgium Chamber of Representatives of Belgium President (Voorzitter/Président/Präsident) Siegfried Bracke (N-VA)
 »Parliament of Belgium Senate of Belgium President (Voorzitter/Président/Präsident) Christine Defraigne (MR)
 »Brussels-Capital Region Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region President (Président/Voorzitter) Charles Piqué (PS)
 »Flanders (Community and Region) Flemish Parliament President (Voorzitter) Jan Peumans (N-VA)
 »French Community Parliament of the French Community President (Président) Philippe Courard (PS)
 »German-speaking Community Parliament of the German-speaking Community President (Präsident) Karl-Heinz Lambertz (SP)
 »Wallonia Parliament of Wallonia President (Président/Präsident) André Antoine (politician) (cdH)
Botswana National Assembly of Botswana Speaker Gladys Kokorwe
Bulgaria National Assembly of Bulgaria Chairperson Tsetska Tsacheva
Cambodia National Assembly of Cambodia President Heng Samrin
 »Parliament of Canada Senate of Canada Speaker (Président) George Furey
 »Parliament of Canada House of Commons of Canada Speaker (Président) Geoff Regan
 »National People's Congress Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Chairman Li Zhanshu
 »Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Chairman Wang Yang
 »Hong Kong Legislative Council of Hong Kong President Andrew Leung
 »Macau Legislative Assembly of Macau President (presidente) Ho Iat Seng
Croatia Croatian Parliament (Sabor) President Gordan Jandroković
Czech Republic
 » Parliament of the Czech Republic Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Radek Vondráček (ANO)
 » Parliament of the Czech Republic Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic President of the Senate of the Czech Republic Jaroslav Kubera (ODS)
Denmark Parliament of Denmark (Folketinget) Speaker Henrik Dam Kristensen
 » Faroe Islands Parliament of the Faroe Islands (Løgtingið) Speaker Páll á Reynatúgvu
 » Greenland Parliament of Greenland (Inatsisartut) Speaker Lars Emil Johansen
Egypt House of Representatives (Egypt) Speaker Ali Abdel Aal
Estonia Riigikogu Speaker Eiki Nestor
Finland Parliament of Finland (eduskunta/riksdagen) Speaker Paula Risikko
France National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) President François de Rugy
Ghana Parliament of Ghana Speaker Aaron Mike Oquaye
Germany Bundestag President of the Bundestag (Bundestagspräsident) Wolfgang Schäuble
Greece Vouli President Nikos Voutsis
Hungary National Assembly of Hungary (Magyar Köztársaság Országgyűlése) President (elnöke) László Kövér
Iceland Parliament of Iceland Speaker Steingrímur J. Sigfússon
India Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla
Indonesia People's Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat) Chairman Bambang Soesatyo
Ireland Dáil Éireann Head of the Council (Ceann Comhairle) Seán Ó Fearghaíl
Iran Majlis of Iran Speaker/Chairman [رئیس] Ali Larijani
Israel Knesset Speaker/Chairman [יושב-ראש] Yuli-Yoel Edelstein
Italy Italian Chamber of Deputies President Roberto Fico
 »National Diet House of Representatives Speaker Tadamori Oshima
 »National Diet House of Councillors Speaker Chuichi Date
 »Parliament of Kenya Senate of Kenya Speaker Kenneth Lusaka
 »Parliament of Kenya National Assembly of Kenya Speaker Justin Muturi
Kosovo Assembly of Kosovo Chairman Jakup Krasniqi
Latvia Saeima Chairwoman of Parliament Ināra Mūrniece
Lebanon Parliament of Lebanon Speaker Nabih Berri
Liechtenstein Landtag of Liechtenstein President Albert Frick
Lithuania Seimas Speaker Loreta Graužinienė
Libya Council of Deputies President Aguila Saleh Issa
Malaysia House of Representatives of Malaysia (Dewan Rakyat) Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof
Malta House of Representatives of Malta Speaker Angelo Farrugia
Mexico Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) President Ruth Zavaleta Salgado
Moldova Parliament President Marian Lupu
Montenegro Assembly of Montenegro President Ranko Krivokapić
Nepal Parliament of Nepal Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar
Netherlands House of Representatives of the Netherlands (Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal) Speaker (Voorzitter) Khadija Arib
New Zealand House of Representatives Speaker Trevor Mallard
Nigeria National Assembly of Nigeria Speaker Yakubu Dogara
North Macedonia Assembly of North Macedonia Speaker Talat Xhaferi
Norway Stortinget President of the Storting (Stortingspresident) Olemic Thommessen
North Korea Supreme People's Assembly Chairman Pak Thae-song[13]
Pakistan National Assembly of Pakistan Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq
Paraguay Senate of Paraguay President Silvio Ovelar
Philippines House of Representatives of the Philippines Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano
Poland Sejm of the Republic of Poland Marshal Marek Kuchciński
Portugal Assembly of the Republic President Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues
 »Azores Legislative Assembly of the Azores President (presidente) Ana Luís
 »Madeira Legislative Assembly of Madeira President (presidente) José Tranquada Gomes
Russia State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin
Serbia National Assembly of Serbia President Maja Gojković
Singapore Parliament of Singapore Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin
Slovakia National Council of the Slovak Republic Speaker Andrej Danko (SNS)
Slovenia National Assembly of Slovenia Speaker Dejan Židan
Solomon Islands National Parliament of Solomon Islands Speaker Sir Peter Kenilorea
South Africa National Assembly of South Africa Speaker Baleka Mbete
South Korea National Assembly of South Korea Speaker Moon Hee-sang
South Sudan National Legislative Assembly of South Sudan Speaker James Wani Igga
 »Cortes Generales
(Spanish parliament)
Congress of the Deputies President Meritxell Batet
 »Cortes Generales
(Spanish parliament)
Spanish Senate President Manuel Cruz Rodríguez
Sri Lanka Parliament of Sri Lanka Speaker Karu Jayasuriya
Suriname National Assembly of Suriname (De Nationale Assemblee) Chairman Jennifer Simons
Sweden Riksdag Speaker Andreas Norlén
Switzerland National Council President Jürg Stahl
Taiwan Legislative Yuan President Su Jia-chyuan
Thailand House of Representatives of Thailand President Somsak Kiatsuranont
Tonga Legislative Assembly of Tonga Speaker Sialeʻataongo Tuʻivakanō
Ukraine Verkhovna Rada Chairman Andriy Parubiy
United Kingdom
 »Parliament of the United Kingdom House of Lords of the United Kingdom Lord Speaker Norman Fowler
 »Parliament of the United Kingdom House of Commons of the United Kingdom Speaker John Bercow
 » Isle of Man House of Keys Speaker Steve Rodan
 » Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker Robin Newton
 » Scotland Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer (Oifigear-Riaghlaidh) Ken Macintosh
 » Wales National Assembly for Wales Presiding Officer (Llywydd) Elin Jones
United States United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Uruguay Chamber of Deputies of Uruguay President Ivonne Passada
Vanuatu Parliament of Vanuatu Speaker George Andre Wells[14]
Venezuela National Assembly President Juan Guaidó
Vietnam National Assembly of Vietnam Chairman Nguyễn Sinh Hùng
Zimbabwe House of Assembly of Zimbabwe Speaker Jacob Mudenda

See also[edit]



  1. ^ As in case of disorders in the floor: Italian traditions knew cases of extreme contestation, not much different from tumults stigmatized in Ukrainian parliaments, Taiwanese and South Korean: Buonomo, Giampiero (2014). "I tre giorni della supercazzola". L’Ago e il filo edizione online.  – via Questia (subscription required)
  2. ^ Journal of the House of Commons: January 1559; 1559; accessed August 2015
  3. ^ Lee Vol 28, pp. 257,258.
  4. ^ Mancini and Galeotti believed that "in the enclosure of the House the exercise of presidential power should not be limits or obstacles whatsoever" (Mancini-Galeotti, Norme ed usi del Parlamento italiano, Roma, 1887, pag. 97).
  5. ^ (in Spanish) Sanciones disciplinarias y policía interna en el ordenamiento parlamentario italiano ‘’AA.VV., Derecho parlamentario sancionador’’, Eusko Legebiltazarra, Parlamento Vasco ed., 2005p. 236-271
  6. ^ F. Bilancia, L’imparzialità perduta (a proposito dei Presidenti di Assemblea parlamentare), in Aa.Vv., Studi in onore di Gianni Ferrara, vol. I, Giappichelli, Torino 2005, pp. 311 ss..
  7. ^ Lee, Min Kok (8 January 2016). "Halimah Yacob to be renominated as Speaker of Parliament: 7 things you may not know about the post". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  8. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, Art. 40(2).
  9. ^ "Speaker of Parliament". Parliament of Singapore. Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  10. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, Art. 40(2).
  11. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, Art. 19(3)(a).
  12. ^ "Shirin to become first woman Speaker". bdnews24.com. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  13. ^ "In full: promotions and demotions at North Korea's 14th SPA". NK PRO. Korea Risk Group. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  14. ^ "01 September confirmed as date for Vanuatu Presidential Election". Islands Business. 2009-09-02. Archived from the original on 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2009-08-20.

Further reading[edit]