I. What Are Bicameral Parliaments?
A. Parliaments can be organized in a number of ways, although two forms domi-
nate modern democratic designs.
Parliaments can be unicameral; that is to say all the members of parliaments may sit in
the same chamber and vote on major policy decisions.
Or, alternatively, parliaments can be bicameral; that is to say, the members of parliament
may meet and vote in two separate chambers.
iii. Within bicameral parliaments, both chambers (usually) have some control over
legislation, and in many cases bargaining between the leaders of the two chambers
(median voters?) determine the final outcome.
In bicameral parliaments, the persons sitting in the two chambers may have been
selected for office in different ways, may sit for longer or shorter terms of office, and
may have different powers over legislation and taxation.
B. The question addressed in today's lecture is whether this "cameral" feature of
parliaments has direct consequences for public policy.
This is by no means obvious.
Even in cases where different economic and political interests are represented in the two
chambers, one might expect the result of two separate votes in two separate chambers to
be more or less similar to an overall vote among all the members of both chambers.
iii. However, it is clear that the "center of gravity" (median voter) in the two chambers of a
bicameral parliament may differ from that of the center (median) for the parliament as a
iv. Bargaining between the two chambers ultimately decides all major public policy
v. The bargaining outcome varies with the powers of the two chambers and the interests
C. When no systematic difference exists in the interests represented in the cham-
bers, it is often mistakenly concluded that there are no advantages from
Bicameralism can be said to be undemocratic if the chambers represents different
interests and redundant if they do not!
The analysis below suggests that this is not the case