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Unicameralism (from uni- "one" + Latin camera "chamber") is a type of legislature consisting of one house or assembly that legislates and votes as one.[1] Unicameralism has become an increasingly common type of legislature, making up nearly 60% of all national legislatures[2] and an even greater share of subnational legislatures.

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.

Rationale for unicameralism and criticism


The principal advantage of a unicameral system is more 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 stays the same, since there are fewer institutions to maintain and support financially. More popular among modern-day democratic countries, unicameral, proportional legislatures are widely seen as both more democratic and effective.[3]

Proponents of bicameral legislatures say that having two legislative chambers offers an additional restraint on the majority, though critics note that there are other ways to restrain majorities, such as through non-partisan courts and a robust constitution.[4]

List of unicameral legislatures

  Countries with a bicameral legislature.[6]
  Countries with a unicameral legislature.
  Countries with a unicameral legislature and an advisory body.
  Countries with no legislature.

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".

Many subnational entities have unicameral legislatures. These include the state of Nebraska and territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands in the United States, the Chinese special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, the Australian state of Queensland as well as the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, a majority of the provinces of Argentina, all of the provinces and territories in Canada, all of the regions of Italy, all of the provinces of Nepal. all of the Spanish autonomous communities, both the autonomous regions of Portugal, most of the states and union territories of India, and all of the states of Brazil and Germany. In the United Kingdom, the devolved Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Senedd, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the London Assembly are also unicameral.

National (UN member states and observers)



Country Unicameral body Seats Notes
 Germany Bundestag 736 The Bundestag is technically the unicameral parliament of Germany, since the Bundesrat is not defined as a chamber of the legislature, but a completely separate legislative institution according to the Basic Law (German constitution).
 Iraq Council of Representatives 329 provision exists for the founding of a "Council of Union", but no move to this effect has been initiated by the existing Council
 Micronesia Congress 14
 Saint Kitts and Nevis National Assembly 15
 United Arab Emirates Federal National Council 40
 Venezuela National Assembly 277


Country Unicameral body Seats Notes
 Afghanistan Leadership Council 30 Purely advisory, powers reside in the emir
 Albania Kuvendi 140
 Andorra General Council of Andorra 28
 Angola National Assembly 220
 Armenia National Assembly 107
 Azerbaijan National Assembly 125
 Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad 350
 Benin National Assembly 109
 Botswana National Assembly 65
 Brunei Legislative Council 37 Purely advisory, powers reside in the King
 Bulgaria National Assembly 240
 Burkina Faso National Assembly 127
 Cape Verde National Assembly 72
 Central African Republic National Assembly 140
 Chad National Assembly 188
 China National People's Congress 2977
 Costa Rica Legislative Assembly 57
 Croatia Sabor 151
 Cuba National Assembly of People's Power 470
 Cyprus House of Representatives 56
 Denmark Folketing 179
 Djibouti National Assembly 65
 Dominica House of Assembly 32
 East Timor National Parliament 65
 Ecuador National Assembly 137
 El Salvador Legislative Assembly 60
 Eritrea National Assembly 150
 Estonia Riigikogu 101
 Fiji Parliament 55
 Finland Parliament 200
 Gambia National Assembly 58
 Georgia Parliament 150
 Ghana Parliament 275
 Greece Parliament 300
 Guatemala Congress 160
 Guinea National Assembly 81
 Guinea-Bissau National People's Assembly 102
 Guyana National Assembly 65
 Honduras National Congress 128
 Hungary National Assembly 199
 Iceland Althing 63
 Iran Islamic Consultative Assembly 290
 Israel Knesset 120
 Kiribati House of Assembly 45
 North Korea Supreme People's Assembly 687
 South Korea National Assembly 300
 Kuwait National Assembly 65
 Kyrgyzstan Supreme Council 90
 Laos National Assembly 164
 Latvia Saeima 100
 Lebanon Parliament 128
 Libya House of Representatives 200
 Liechtenstein Landtag 25
 Lithuania Seimas 141
 Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies 60
 Malawi National Assembly 193
 Maldives Majlis 93
 Mali National Assembly 147
 Malta Parliament 79
 Marshall Islands Legislature 33
 Mauritania Parliament 176
 Mauritius National Assembly 70
 Moldova Parliament 101
 Monaco National Council 24
 Mongolia State Great Khural 126
 Montenegro Parliament 81
 Mozambique Assembly of the Republic 250
 Nauru Parliament 19
 New Zealand Parliament 120
 Nicaragua National Assembly 90
 Niger National Assembly 171
 North Macedonia Assembly 120
 Norway Storting 169
 State of Palestine Legislative Council 132
 Panama National Assembly 71
 Papua New Guinea National Parliament 118
 Peru Congress of the Republic 130 The composition of the Congress of Peru in 2026, will return to being a bicameral legislature with a 60-seat Senate and 130-seat Chamber of Deputies.
 Portugal Assembly of the Republic 230
 Qatar Consultative Assembly 45
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines House of Assembly 21
 Samoa Legislative Assembly 53
 Saudi Arabia Consultative Assembly 150 Purely advisory, powers reside in the King
 San Marino Grand and General Council 60
 São Tomé and Príncipe National Assembly 55
 Senegal National Assembly 165
 Serbia National Assembly 250
 Seychelles National Assembly 35
 Sierra Leone Parliament 149
 Singapore Parliament 104
 Slovakia National Council 150
 Solomon Islands National Parliament 50
 Sri Lanka Parliament 225
 Suriname National Assembly 51
 Sweden Riksdag 349
 Syria Parliament 250
 Tanzania National Assembly 393
 Togo National Assembly 113
 Tonga Legislative Assembly 26
 Tunisia National Assembly 161
 Turkey Grand National Assembly 600
 Turkmenistan Assembly 125
 Tuvalu Parliament 16
 Uganda Parliament 557
 Ukraine Verkhovna Rada 450
 Vanuatu Parliament 52
 Vatican City Pontifical Commission 8 All powers delegated by the sovereign
 Vietnam National Assembly 500
 Zambia National Assembly 167


Country Unicameral body Seats Notes
 British Virgin Islands House of Assembly 15
 Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly 21
 Cook Islands Parliament 24
 Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly 11
 Faroe Islands Løgting 33
 Gibraltar Parliament 17
 Greenland Inatsisartut 31
 Guam Legislature 15 Unincorporated territory of the United States
 Hong Kong Legislative Council 90
 Macao Legislative Assembly 33
 Niue Assembly 20
 Tobago House of Assembly 15
 U.S. Virgin Islands Legislature 15

State parliaments with limited recognition

Country Unicameral body Seats Notes
 Abkhazia People's Assembly 35
 Kosovo Assembly 120
 Northern Cyprus Assembly of the Republic 50
 Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic National Council 51
 South Ossetia Parliament 34
 Taiwan Legislative Yuan 113 The original constitution is partially superseded by the additional articles only on Taiwan which replaced the tricameral parliament into a unicameral one. A sunset clause in the additional articles will terminate them in the event of a hypothetical resumption of ROC rule in Mainland China.
 Transnistria Supreme Council 33




Provincial legislatures in Argentina

Devolved governments




List of historical unicameral legislatures








Unicameralism in the Philippines


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 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).

Unicameralism in the United States


The Nebraska Legislature (also called the Unicameral) is the supreme legislative body of the state of Nebraska and the only unicameral state legislature in the United States. Its members are called "senators", as it was originally the upper house of a bicameral legislature before the Nebraska House of Representatives dissolved in 1937. The legislature is also notable for being nonpartisan and officially recognizes no party affiliation, making Nebraska unique among U.S. states. With 49 members, it is also the smallest legislature of any U.S. state.

A 2018 study found that efforts to adopt unicameralism in Ohio and Missouri failed due to rural opposition.[10] There was a fear in rural communities that unicameralism would diminish their influence in state government.[10]

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.[citation needed]

In 1944, Missouri held a vote on changing the General Assembly to a unicameral one, which was narrowly rejected by the voters 52.42-47.58. Only the city of St. Louis and the St. Louis County voted in favor, whilst Jackson County (containing the bulk of Kansas City) narrowly voted against, and all other counties voted against the change to unicameralism.[11][12]

In 1970, North Dakota voters voted to call a constitutional convention. In 1972, a change to a unicameral legislature was approved by 69.36-30.64,[13] however, since the voters rejected the new constitution at the same referendum, it never took effect.[14]

In 1999, Governor Jesse Ventura proposed converting the Minnesota Legislature into a single chamber.[15] Although debated, the idea was never adopted.

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%).[16] If both the territory's House of Representatives and Senate had approved by a 23 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.[17]

Because of legislative gridlock in 2009, former Congressman Rick Lazio, a prospective candidate for governor, has proposed that New York adopt unicameralism.[18]

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.[19]

See also



  1. ^ Lanham, Url (2018). The insects. Gene-Tech Books. ISBN 978-81-89729-42-4. OCLC 1003201754.
  2. ^ "Structure of parliaments". IPU PARLINE database. 2022. Retrieved 2022-12-31.
  3. ^ Wirls, Daniel (2004). The invention of the United States Senate. Stephen Wirls. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-7438-6. OCLC 51878651.
  4. ^ Litt, David (2020). Democracy in one book or less : how it works, why it doesn't, and why fixing it is easier than you think (First ed.). New York, NY. ISBN 978-0-06-287936-3. OCLC 1120147424.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  5. ^ Reuter, Konrad (2003). "Zweite Kammer?". Bundesrat und Bundesstaat: Der Bundesrat der Bundesrepublik Deutschland(PDF) (in German) (12th ed.). Berlin: Direktor des Bundesrates. p. 50. ISBN 3-923706-22-7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2007-01-04. Im Ausland wird ein solches parlamentarisches System im Allgemeinen als Zweikammer- System bezeichnet. Für Bundestag und Bundesrat ist dagegen eine gemeinsame Bezeichnung nicht allgemein üblich, und es ist sogar umstritten, ob der Bundesrat eine Zweite Kammer ist. (English: Abroad, such a parliamentary system is in general called a bicameral one. For Bundestag and Bundesrat such a common designation is not usual and it is even contentious whether the Bundesrat is a second chamber at all.)
  6. ^ Classifications of Germany as a country with a bicameral legislature can be controversial.[5]
  7. ^ "Constitutional Commission proposals". Concom.ph. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  8. ^ Softrigger Interactive (2008-02-25). "Philippines : Gov.Ph : About the Philippines". Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  9. ^ "Why Change?". Concom.ph. Archived from the original on 2006-08-18. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  10. ^ a b Myers, Adam S. (2018). "The Failed Diffusion of the Unicameral State Legislature, 1934–1944". Studies in American Political Development. 32 (2): 217–235. doi:10.1017/S0898588X18000135. ISSN 0898-588X. S2CID 150363451.
  11. ^ "Missouri Unicameral Legislature, Issue 2 (1944)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2024-03-19.
  12. ^ "1944 Referendum General Election Results - Missouri".
  13. ^ "North Dakota Unicameral or Bicameral Legislature, Alternate Proposition 1 (1972)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2024-03-19.
  14. ^ "North Dakota Constitution, Main Proposition (1972)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2024-03-19.
  15. ^ "One People – One House". News.minnesota.publicradio.org. 1999-04-29. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  16. ^ "Referéndum sobre el Sistema Cameral". Comisión Estatal de Elecciones de Puerto Rico. 2005-07-10.
  17. ^ "RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Unicameral Legislature" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  18. ^ One for All, Rick Lazio, New York Times, July 14, 2009
  19. ^ "Avalon Project - Confederate States of America - Constitution for the Provisional Government". avalon.law.yale.edu.