Unicameral and Bicameral Legislature – What is the Difference?

Unicameral and Bicameral Legislature – What is the Difference?
Unicameral and Bicameral Legislature – What is the Difference?


This article explains Unicameral and Bicameral Legislature and their difference. Every country has a legislature. The legislature is the arm of government that is empowered to make laws and oversee the administration of government.

There are two types of the legislature – Unicameral Legislature & Bicameral Legislature. Some countries run a Unicameral legislature; some other countries run a Bicameral legislature.


  • Unicameral Legislature-

This form of the legislature is rare. Here, the country has only one legislative house or assembly. This is why it is referred to as the unicameral legislature.


The single legislative house performs all the activities that a legislature is expected to perform.


Members of the legislative house are directly elected by the masses through general elections.


Because of its simple and unitary nature, decision/law-making process is always quick and there are fewer deadlock situations. However, it promotes centralization of power, which may be abused if not properly checked.


Unicameral legislature system is common in countries that operate a unitary system of government, like China. It can also be found in most small countries. Some of the countries that run the unicameral legislature include New Zealand, China, Hungary, etc.


  • Bicameral Legislature-

This form of the legislature is more common. Most large countries run this system of legislature. Here, the country has two legislative houses or assemblies – the Upper House and the Lower House of assembly.


The legislative powers, duties, and responsibilities are shared and performed by both houses.


The members of the Upper house are usually nominated through indirect elections. Members of the Lower house of assembly are nominated by the masses through general elections.


Most countries that run a Federal system of government usually have a bicameral legislature.


A major advantage of the bicameral legislature is the fact that it seeks to ensure fair representation of all groups and sectors in the society in the Parliament. The system also prevents the centralization of power.


Even though this form of legislature checks and prevents centralization of power, the decision and law-making process are less efficient than that of the unicameral legislature.


The law-making process is time-consuming as the bill has to be scrutinized by both houses of Parliament. The decision-making process is commonly fraught with dead-lock situations.


India runs a bicameral legislature. Some other countries which have the system of legislature include the United States, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, etc.


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