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Bicameralism: Seanad Éireann and OECD countries

No.1 2012

Editorial Contents This Spotlight locates Seanad Éireann within the Editorial 1 global family of second chambers. summary 2 and large populations are the normal predictors of , so is unusual for having Prevalence of bicameralism 3 a second chamber. Bicameralism in the Ireland 5 The following comparisons with the second Bicameralism in the OECD 8 chambers in unitary countries of the OECD are Does bicameralism matter and 10 striking: how does it matter? Second chamber reform and  The composition of the Seanad is unique. cameral change 13 Bibliography 15  The weakness of the Seanad is not unusual. Typically in the OECD the second chambers are subordinate to the first chambers.

While Seanad reform has long been on the agenda the debate has now moved from reform No liability is accepted to any person arising to abolition. There is a referendum on the matter out of any reliance on the contents of this paper. Nothing herein constitutes professional planned for later in 2012. advice of any kind. This document contains a general summary of developments and is not 31 January 2012 complete or definitive. It has been prepared for distribution to Members to aid them in their Social Science & Parliamentary Affairs Team Parliamentary duties. Authors are available to discuss the contents of these papers with Library & Research Service Members and their staff but not with members Central Enquiry Desk: 618 4701/ 4702 of the general public. Executive Summary

Ireland has a long history of A survey of the composition and bicameralism, largely influenced by legislative powers of the second Westminster. Each of the chambers in the eleven unitary states constitutional frameworks drafted for of the OECD yields some interesting Ireland in the twentieth century results: included a bicameral .  In terms of size, all are Reform of the Seanad has been significantly smaller than their debated almost since its respective lower chambers, establishment. That debate has now except UK . moved on to abolition. Since 2009 it has been policy to abolish  All have terms equal or longer the Seanad. Seanad abolition was than the lower houses, with advocated by the , Fianna rolling renewal in four cases. Fail and Sinn Fein in their 2011 election manifestos. Abolition of the  In most cases the second Seanad is Government policy with a chambers are directly elected. referendum planned for 2012. The previous Government (Fianna  In most cases composition is Fáil/) also considered based on regional or provincial holding a referendum to amend the representation whether directly to abolish the Seanad. or indirectly elected.

The issue of second chamber  Only in do both chambers reform/abolition is commonly debated enjoy equal powers. In all in countries with bicameral other cases the second . During the twentieth chambers have legislative century thirty countries have abolished powers subordinate to that of a second chamber. Abolition has the other chamber. They can occurred either by the overthrow of usually delay but not veto authoritarian regimes or through legislation and have powers to processes of political reform. initiate legislation (except financial legislation). The evidence suggests that bicameralism is not on the decline. There are studies which have found Currently, 40% of parliaments in the positive effects of bicameralism on Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) have parliamentary in terms of two legislative chambers. Within the representation, the process of thirty-four developed countries of the legislative bargaining, the quality of OECD nineteen have bicameral legislation and oversight of the parliaments (56%) and eleven are in executive. The effects appear to unitary countries. depend on the composition and powers of the second chamber and it Federalism and population size are the seems that composition may be most most significant indicators of important. bicameralism. In the OECD Ireland and are the only unitary countries with bicameral parliaments where there is a population less than 10 million.

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Prevalence of Bicameralism

There are bicameral in 78 bicameral, one () is also of the 193 (40%) countries in the Inter- federal. Parliamentary Union.  Only four of the fourteen OECD countries with populations of less Bicameralism is even more common in than ten million are bicameral. Two the OECD and the EU: are also federal ( and  Nineteen of the thirty-four countries ). in the OECD have bicameral  Ireland and Slovenia are the only parliamentary structures (56%). small (population less than  There are thirteen bicameral 10million), unitary states with parliaments in the twenty-seven bicameral parliaments in the EU member states (48%). OECD.

Federal states and those with large It has been suggested3 that a populations are the most likely to bicameral structure is too expensive have bicameral parliaments. Table 2 and/or redundant for countries with illustrates this for OECD countries. small populations. However, when advancing this as a reason to abolish Federal States1 an , other variables, such Although federalism is not a common as the power and capacity of the lower system of government, almost all house to scrutinise legislation, should federal systems have bicameral be considered.4 Country size and parliaments at the national level. stable democracy are other indicators Through a bicameral structure the for bicameralism. interests of smaller states are protected from domination by larger Country size states. Of the ten largest countries in the world (by area) only China has a All the federal countries in the OECD unicameral parliamentary structure, have bicameral parliaments; this is see Table 1. Most of the countries in also the case in the EU. this group are also federal.

Within the vast majority of Table 1: 10 largest countries (by sub-national or state legislatures are area) and cameral structure unicameral, except in the US and Country Cameral Federal/ . 2 This suggests that the structure Unitary purpose served by bicameralism in the Bicameral Federal federal parliament is not required at Bicameral Federal sub-national level. USA Bicameral Federal China Unicameral Unitary Population Size Bicameral Federal  Eleven of the thirteen OECD Australia Bicameral Federal countries with populations above Bicameral Federal twenty million are bicameral (85%). Bicameral Unitary Five are also federal. Bicameral Unitary  There are seven OECD countries Bicameral Unitary with populations between ten and Sources: IPU Parline and Worldatlas.com. twenty million. Four of these are 3 Massicotte (2001) 4 Laver (2002, 64) suggests that in European unitary states with unicameral parliaments 1 A of semi-autonomous provinces or (, Finland, Iceland, and states with a central government linking them ) lower houses have alternative checks together. and balances such as powerful 2 Only in the US and in systems which make it difficult for governments Australia have unicameral state legislatures. to rush through ill-considered legislation.

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Table 2: OECD Countries – cameral structure Federal/ Population Country size OECD Cameral countries Structure Unitary (millions) (km2) Australia Bicameral Federal 22.3 7,692,024 Austria Bicameral Federal 8.4 83,871 Belgium Bicameral Federal 10.8 30,528 Canada Bicameral Federal 34 9,984,670 Bicameral Unitary 17 756,102 Czech Bicameral Unitary 10.5 78,867 Denmark Unicameral Unitary 5.5 43,094 Estonia Unicameral Unitary 1.3 45,000 Finland Unicameral Unitary 5.3 338,145 Bicameral Unitary 62.6 551,500 Bicameral Federal 82 357,022 Unicameral Unitary 11.3 131,957 Hungary Unicameral Unitary 10 93,028 Iceland Unicameral Unitary 0.3 103,000 Ireland Bicameral Unitary 4.6 70,273 Israel Unicameral Unitary 7.6 22,072 Italy Bicameral Unitary 60 301,318 Bicameral Unitary 127 377,915 Korea Unicameral Unitary 50.5 99,678 Luxembourg Unicameral Unitary 0.5 2,586 Bicameral Federal 108 1,964,375 Bicameral Unitary 16.5 41,543 Unicameral Unitary 4.4 270,467 Norway Unicameral Unitary 4.8 323,802 Bicameral Unitary 38 312,685 Unicameral Unitary 10.6 92,090 Slovak Republic Unicameral Unitary 5.4 49,035 Slovenia Bicameral Unitary 2 20,273 Bicameral Unitary 46 505,992 Sweden Unicameral Unitary 9.4 531,796 Switzerland Bicameral Federal 7.8 41,285 Unicameral Unitary 73 783,562 Bicameral Unitary 61 242,900 Bicameral Federal 309 9,629,091 Sources: Websites of OECD, IPU Parline and Worldatlas.com

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Bicameralism in Ireland: History and Powers This section looks at the history of The 1922 Constitution provided for a Seanad Éireann and describes its 60-member . It was to be current composition, elections and directly elected for a 12-year period formal powers. with one-quarter of the members elected every three years. The History of Seanad Éireann candidates were to be nominated by Ireland has a long history of the Dáil and the Seanad as bicameralism. The old Irish parliament, representatives of important aspects of which first met in Casteldermot, Co the Nation’s life.7 Kildare in 1264 evolved into a tricameral parliament similar to other As a transitional measure the first medieval multicameral parliaments. Seanad in 1922 was partly elected by The third chamber, called the house of the Dáil (30 Senators) and partly clerical proctors was abolished in appointed by the President of the 1536. The Houses of Parliament Executive Council (30 Senators). The (Commons and Lords) later met in on first triennial elections occurred in Green in , until the Act 1925. By the next election in 1928 the of Union 1800. system had been changed. The term of Senators was reduced to nine years The Home Rule legislation proposing with a third to retire every three years separate Irish legislatures included and the general electorate was bicameral structures.5 Each of the abolished (due to poor turnout in the constitutional frameworks drafted in 1925 election) in favour of an electoral the twentieth century included a college made up of Dáil and Seanad second chamber. members.

The UK Act The Seanad of the 1922 Constitution 1920 provided for two bicameral had the two classic functions of a parliaments, one each in Northern second chamber. Firstly, it provided Ireland and Southern Ireland. The representation for political interests Senate for Southern Ireland only met that would not have been adequately twice. After a landslide victory in the represented in the Dáil, in other words 1921 election Sinn Fein refused to protected the protestant minority and accept the new parliamentary former ascendancy. Thirty-six of the institutions and constituted the Second original Senators were Catholic.8 Dáil leaving the Parliament of Southern Ireland to adjourn sine die.6 Second, the Seanad was to act as a check and balance on the lower The Senate, provided for under the house, particularly to allow for extra 1920 Act, had a complex composition deliberation on legislation before of 64 members elected to represent enactment. The impact of this Seanad specific groups including: commercial on legislation and its role as a forum interests, the Catholic Church, the for debate has been recognised by Church of Ireland, peers, privy many commentators.9 and county councillors.

7 Article 30. Constitution Of The (Saorstát Éireann) Act, 1922 5 Laver & Coakley (2002) Report of the All Http://Acts2.Oireachtas.Ie/Zza1y1922.1.Html Party Committee on the Constitution. 8 Laver (2002) 6 The Senate lasted until 1972 9 O’Sullivan (1940), Dooge (1987), Seanad (All Party Committee on the Debates Motion on Seanad Reform 3rd Constitution, 1997) November 2010

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The Seanad was abolished in May Election 1936 due to serious clashes with the Election and appointment to the Dáil over the Seanad’s use of its Seanad occurs after a Dáil election. powers to delay legislation. Forty-three are indirectly elected to Specifically priority legislation of the five vocational panels by members of government, including the Constitution the incoming Dáil, the outgoing (Removal of Oath) 1932 and the Seanad and members of local Wearing of Uniforms (Restrictions) Bill authorities. Six are directly elected by 1934. the graduates of the NUI and of Dublin. In 1979 there was The government did not have a a referendum passed to extend the majority in the Seanad at this point. electorate to include additional third This has been attributed to the level institutions but no legislation has triennial elections in place at the provided for this change. The final time.10 eleven members are appointed by the . Seanad after 1937 Although De Valera was opposed to The electoral legislation which having a Seanad he established a regulates Seanad elections places the Commission to look at the proposal for forty-three indirectly elected seats a second chamber in 1936 as part of within the control of the political preparations for a new constitution. parties.13 In particular the electorate is The Commission produced three confined to serving politicians, the reports, each proposed a second members of the vocational groups do chamber but with different powers and not vote. compositions.11 The Seanad of the 1937 Constitution Composition retains a type of representational The 1937 Constitution provided for a function and a check and balance 60 member Seanad based on ideas of function. However, its role as a check vocational representation and and balance is limited to the legislative corporatism popular in Europe at this process because the government is time and endorsed by the papacy in responsible to the Dáil.14 the encyclical Quadragesimo Anno of Pope Pius XI (1931). This had Seanad’s Formal Powers stressed, as an alternative to class The Seanad’s formal powers are set conflict, an institutionalisation of out in the Constitution: sectoral divisions based essentially on groupings of occupations and of other  Legislative (Articles 20-24) major social interests. Corporatism  Membership (Article was also influential in other catholic 28.7.2) European countries like Italy and  Force a Referendum or Portugal at the time. However, Garvin General Election (Article 27) warns of overrating the affects of theories or ideologies on Irish Legislative 12 politics. The Seanad has two legislative powers that might be deemed as enabling it to perform a check and balance role:  it can delay the passage of a Bill passed by the Dáil for 90 10 Garvin, 1969 11 Abolition of the Seanad featured in the Fianna Fail election manifesto in 1933.(Keogh 13 Seanad Electoral (Panel Members) Acts & McCarthy, 2007) 1947, 1954 12 Garvin (1969) 14 Bunreacht na hÉireann Art. 28.4.1

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days (or 21 days if it is a following a general election. This money bill15); and power has never been used.  non-money bills can be initiated in the Seanad provided they do That powers have never or rarely been not propose to amend the used does not mean that they do not constitution. influence government behaviour.

The Seanad has rejected two bills Other Powers since 1937 and in both cases the Dáil A further, informal power has emerged subsequently overturned the Seanad’s from the role of Senators in Joint decision (Manning, 2010). In 1959 it Oireachtas Committees16 which rejected a government proposal to scrutinise government departments amend the Constitution by replacing and advise on policy issues. proportional representation with the first-past-the-post system for Dáil The current Seanad has introduced a elections. It also rejected the number of under Standing Pawnbrokers Bill in 1963. Orders17 to engage with representatives of public and civic life. Cabinet Membership Up to two members of the cabinet may Under the new rules Dr Maurice be members of the Seanad. The Manning addressed the Seanad in Taoiseach nominates eleven senators, September 2011 and Dr Mary thus he/she could appoint up to two Robinson in November 2011. cabinet ministers who have neither been elected by the general public nor The Seanad Public Consultation 18 the Seanad electorate. Committee (SPCC) was launched in October 2011. Its purpose is to provide Senators have been appointed as for direct engagement and Cabinet Ministers only twice: Seán consultation between members of the th Moylan was appointed for public and the 24 Seanad. The SPCC Agriculture in 1954 and can invite submissions from the public, was appointed Minister for Foreign hold hearings, and publish reports on Affairs in 1981 (Manning, 2010). issues which are identified as ‘of public interest’. Public interest means an Initiate Referendum or General issue specifically related to the Election Seanad’s legislative powers or an Article 27 of the Constitution states issue of public policy. These reports that a referendum or a general election and their recommendations will be can be initiated where a majority of the debated in the Seanad or referred to a Seanad, combined with one-third of relevant Joint Committee. The SPCC the members of the Dáil, petition the is currently considering submissions President that a bill ‘contains a about the rights of older people. proposal of such national importance that the will of the people thereon ought to be ascertained.’ (Gallagher, 2005). If the President decides (within 10 days) that the bill is of sufficient 16 Coakley & Gallagher (2009), Laver (2002) 17 national importance he or she can Standing Orders are the rules for how decline to sign it until a popular business is conducted in the House . Seanad Standing Orders referendum has been held or the bill is http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/procedural passed by of a new Dáil documents/SeanadStandingOrders2011.pdf 18 Committee website http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/oireachtasb usiness/-list/public-consultation- 15 Money bills involve the appropriation of seanad/ revenue or other public moneys.

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Bicameralism in the OECD

This section looks at the composition, Second chambers are representative elections and legislative powers of the of the regions/provinces in six second chambers in the eleven unitary countries (Chile, France, Italy, states of the OECD - see Table 4.19 Netherlands, Poland and Spain).

Composition Laver & Coakley (2002) described the The second chambers are all composition of Seanad Éireann as significantly smaller than the first ‘unique’. Specifically they said the type chambers, apart from the House of of vocational representation is not Lords.20 The Spanish Senate has a found at national level in any other membership 25% smaller than that of country, the university representation the . In Italy, the is ‘unusual’ and the system of Netherlands and Japan the second Taoiseach’s nominations is ‘without chamber is half the size of the other parallel’. Although in Italy the chamber. In Ireland, Chile and the President appoints four members to the second chamber the Senate. is between 30-40% the size of the other chamber. The Polish Senate is Legislative powers just 22% the size of the first Chamber. In Italy there is ‘perfect bicameralism’ - both Houses enjoy equal powers and The terms of office are either equal functions. The legislative powers of all or longer than the first chamber. In the other second chambers in OECD four chambers (Chile, Czech Republic, countries are subordinate to the lower France and Japan) a portion of the houses. Legislation (except financial membership is renewed either every bills) can generally be initiated by the two, three or four years. This rolling second chamber, except in the renewal means the chambers are not Netherlands and Slovenia. actually dissolved. Rolling renewal was proposed for Seanad Éireann in The powers of second chambers the Report on Seanad Reform (except Italy) to amend and review (Seanad Éireann, 2004). legislation are time bound with the having the power to make Elections the final decision. Thus second For six chambers there are direct chambers can delay legislation but elections with indirect elections to four cannot veto it. chambers. The UK House of Lords is unique in that members are appointed There are specific types of legislation for life.21 where the assent of second chambers is sometimes required, generally in relation to amending the constitution, electoral legislation, international 19 Parliaments described as bicameral in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) database treaties and regional legislation. In 20 UK House of Lords has 736 members by this way second chambers often have comparison with 650 in the House of role in protecting the constitution. Commons. 21 Describing elections as either direct or Table 4 demonstrates how the indirect reflects the method for electing the majority of members and does not include other legislative powers of Seanad Éireann routes to membership, appointments, indirect are similar to those of the second election for minority - 56 members of the chambers in unitary countries of Spanish Senat are indirectly elected from the OECD, apart from Italy. autonomous committees, the 11 nominees of the Taoiseach to Seanad Éireann or the 3 former Presidents who are ex officio members outstanding merits in social, scientific, artistic of the Italian Senate and the three Senators and literary fields". appointed by the President for life "for

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Table 4: Composition & powers of second chambers in unitary OECD countries OECD countries Composition Powers (No. Senators) Chile (38) - Direct election - Can initiate some legislation but not - 8 years financial, local administration, armed - Half membership renewed forces, new public services. every 4 years - Only Senate can initiate amnesty - Regional representation Czech - Direct election - Senate as a whole can initiate Republic (81) - Biannual renewal of one third legislation in Chamber of Deputies. Senators - Legislative review timebound. - Veto for constitutional amendments, electoral laws and international treaties - Appointment process for Constitutional Court justices France (343) - - Can initiate non-financial bills - 6 years - Review financial bills time bound - Half membership renewed every 3 years - Represents local councils Ireland (60) - 49 Indirect election - Can initiate non-financial bills - 11 Appointed - Cannot initiate bills which propose - Parliamentary term – max 5 amendments to the constitution years - Review time bound - Vocational and university - Lower House has final decision representation Italy (322) - 315 Direct election - Equal power with lower house - 7 others Ex officio (former Presidents) or appointed by President - 5 year term - Regional representation Japan (242) - Direct election - Can initiate legislation - 6 year mandate - Review time bound - Half membership renewed - Lower house has final decision every 3 years Netherlands - Indirect election - Can approve or reject legislation but (75) - Provincial representation cannot amend or initiate - 4 years Poland (100) - Direct election - Can initiate, accept, reject or amend - Provincial representation legislation – no veto - 4 years - Ratification of international treaties requires consent of Senate - Review time bound Slovenia (40) - Indirect election - Restricted legislative powers - Represents employers, - May propose legislation and has a employees & local interest suspensive veto which can be groups overturned by first chamber. - 5 years Spain (264) - 208 Direct election - Initiate bills to do with treaties and - 56 Indirect election autonomous communities only - 4 years - Can veto or amend legislation - Provincial Representation - Review time bound UK (736) - 616 Appointed - Can initiate non-financial bills - 117 Other - Review time bound Sources: Parliamentary websites, IPU, ECPRD, EIU Country Reports, Senatesoftheworld.fr

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Does bicameralism matter and how does it matter? Studies of bicameralism have found In support of the contention that positive effects on parliamentary differences in preferences between democracy in terms of representation, chambers is common enough, political the process of legislative bargaining, scientists have tested propositions that the quality of legislation and oversight bicameralism affects the size of of the executive. However, whether or budget deficits. not these benefits actually materialise depends first, on the extent to which When each chamber is controlled by a chamber compositions are sufficiently different party in the USA, bicameral different and second, on the extent of logrolls22 have been found to lead to powers allocated to the second higher budget deficits (McCubbins, chamber. There seems to be a 1991). consensus that the first of these two conditions may be more important. On the other hand, a study based on empirical evidence from nine Effect on Legislative Bargaining parliamentary , found that Bicameralism affects policy and - bicameral divergence, (where different making more significantly where one parties control each chamber) in chamber has enough leverage to keep parliamentary systems is associated the other from acting unilaterally. with lower budget deficits (Heller, However, even where rules allow one 2001). chamber to decide policy on its own after the other has had its say, as is This suggests that bicameralism in the case in the Irish bicameralism federal and presidential systems may system, Tsebelis and Money (1997) have different effects on legislative show that the ability to delay should bargaining than in parliamentary yield tangible policy influence. In other democracies. This is because in words, even institutionally weak parliamentary systems disciplined chambers ought to be able to force political parties focus on claiming stronger chambers to make policy credit for their achievements and concessions (Heller, 2007). denying other parties that ability. This works against the types of bargains This influence will depend on there between the different parties that being some divergence of opinion control each chamber (logrolls) that between the chambers i.e. on the tend to increase expenditure. In fact chambers not being ‘congruent.’ the evidence suggests that where the Depending on how they view same party dominates each chamber , as individuals or as political in a party representatives, political (congruence) budget deficits are likely scientists disagree over the potential to be higher. The extent of this effect level of divergence between chambers will of course depend on the relative and, hence, on the extent to which power of the second chamber. bicameralism ultimately affects policy making. For example, McCarty and Cutrone (2007) argue that chambers are congruent as long as modes of selection to each chamber are not too 22 Logrolling sees members working towards dissimilar. Others argue that as long the passage of legislation by exchanging as legislative chambers are made up political favours, such as trading votes i.e. one of different sets of individuals, member or group of members agrees to vote for one piece of legislation in return for the preferences are unlikely to be identical support of another group of members for their (Heller, 1997). favoured legislation. The easiest place to look for evidence of logrolls is in spending.

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Effect on the Quality of Legislation wishes to pass legislation quickly. In Where two chambers have equal or 2001 the government withdrew a close-to-equal power bicameralism proposed ban on opinion polling, creates the potential for gridlock and which had been added to the Electoral costly logrolls. (Amendment) Bill 2000 as it went through the Dáil. The ban was Bicameralism has been found to removed after a loophole was create policy stability because it is identified during a Seanad debate. discourages radical policy shifts (Alt & Lowry, 1994, Bradbury & Crain, 2001). The power of lower houses to guillotine the time allowed for debate Bicameralism also has the potential to on some legislation limits this influence protect minorities from legislation of second chambers considerably in reflecting the ; some instances. For example, in this potential is clearly only realised if Norway some readings in the second minorities are adequately represented chamber lasted 17 seconds.23 in powerful second chambers. Representation Do weak second chambers affect Second chambers were originally the quality of legislation? designed to provide representation for For Lijphart (1984), too little legislative voices that otherwise might go authority or too much agreement with unheeded. Classically it was to protect the lower chamber, are sufficient to the voices of the upper classes. Today relegate a second chamber to this protection of minorities is often irrelevance, redundancy or both. For territorial, ethnic or linguistic. The Irish observers more interested in the Seanad’s predecessor, the 1922 quality and content of legislation even Senate, was half-elected and half- weak and redundant second chambers appointed to ensure unionist have their place (Heller, 2007). representation.

Second chambers, no matter how The classic model of a federal second weak, consider legislation. A number chamber is the US Senate, where of political scientists argue that each state is represented by two bicameralism should result in higher- members, irrespective of its quality legislation by virtue of population. This and the strong powers informational gains from parallel or of the Senate means that a few large sequential consideration in separate states cannot pass laws which will be chambers; others that it can improve legislation by providing an arena for 23 The Norwegian had a type of semi- adversarial consideration of competing bicameralism until October 2009. It dealt with policy proposals (Heller, 2007). legislation by dividing into two chambers – the Odelsting and the Lagting (Second Chamber). At the very least, argue Rogers (2001) When a new Storting assembled after a and Russell (2001) a second chamber general election, one quarter of the Members were elected to serve in the Lagting and the can serve to perfect bills and it can do remaining three-quarters constituted the so better if it mirrors the first chamber; Odelsting. All bills were considered in both it can do so without arousing suspicion chambers. The Lagting was responsible for that it is trying to subvert the checking the legislation but it could not veto a bill altogether. In February 2007 the Storting legislation. agreed to end this process and a new (unicameral) legislative procedure came into Bicameralism provides an opportunity, force when the new parliament met on 1 therefore, to correct errors or plug October 2009 http://www.stortinget.no/Global/pdf/Hovedbrosjy loopholes. Laver (2002) described the re%20div%20spr%c3%a5k/2009_eng_web.pdf significance of the Seanad’s weak legislative powers when a government

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to the detriment of the more numerous Organisation of Political Parties smaller states. Some studies have examined the impact of bicameralism for party In other countries, for example organisation and position taking and Australia, members of the Senate are found that party organisation is elected using a proportional system different in bicameral systems than in while the lower house is elected by the unicameral systems alternative vote system. The different means of selecting members to each One study found that even where house ensures that small parties and second chambers have limited formal independents tend to hold the balance power to influence policy, they can still of power; the second chamber is the provide a platform for members to blur major site of interparty negotiation and party labels (Heller, 2007). agreement, introducing some consensus politics into an otherwise Therefore a second chamber may give majoritarian system (Russell, 2001). some party members leverage that they otherwise would not have for How members of second chambers imposing their own preferences on the are selected/elected is of paramount party position. Either this or party interest to political scientists i.e. are leaders minimise the opportunity for they truly representative of who they this arising by selecting members for purport to represent? Clearly if a the second chamber whose careers second chamber is considered either depend so strongly on party leaders weak or redundant the additional that they dare not impose their own representation is non-existent preferences on party positions (Heller, (regardless of how representative it 2007). might actually be of minorities).

Additional Check on the Executive In parliamentary democracies, the existence of the confidence vote makes party discipline in the lower house essential to stable government. Yet this discipline threatens the ability of the chamber to carry out its scrutiny role.

Second chambers can provide an important counterbalance in an otherwise executive-dominated parliament. Members of the second chamber from governing parties may find it easier to speak out on aspects of government policy, and, may in fact be tacitly supported for doing so.

In some countries the for members of second chambers is longer and this also encourages independence, even if members are from governing parties (e.g. in France there are nine-year terms, with a third elected every 3 years (Russell, 2001). This has implications for the organisation of political parties.

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Second chamber reform and cameral change This section outlines the debate on Composition Seanad reform/abolition in Ireland Each report recommended changes to before looking at cameral change24 the composition of the Seanad, see globally. Table 5. All recommended the introduction of directly elected Seanad Reform Senators, retaining the university seats Since 1937, there have been ten with an extended franchise and reviews of the Seanad,25 a retaining the Taoiseach’s nominations. to extend The 2004 report recommended a the franchise for the university seats rolling renewal of membership with and numerous motions on Seanad direct elections to be held on the same reform. Yet the Seanad has remained day as local and European elections more or less unchanged since the and indirect elections and Taoiseach Constitution was enacted. nominations to follow Dáil elections.

None of the reviews either recommended or seriously considered abolition. The All- Table 5: Recommendations on composition of Party Oireachtas Committee on Seanad 1997-2004 the Constitution (1997) concluded Review Composition that the Seanad makes a useful 1. Seanad Committee  32 directly elected ( 26 to contribution to the democratic life on Procedure and a national constituency of the state and that any savings Privileges under list-PR, 6 to a achieved by its abolition would be Subcommittee on national higher education illusory because some functions Seanad Reform (April constituency under would have to be reallocated to 2004) PR_STV) other parts of the political system.  20 indirectly elected 65 members  12 nominated by Rolling renewal Taoiseach Formal powers The three most recent reviews  re-elected automatically. (1997, 2002 & 2004) did not 2. Seventh Progress  48 directly elected by PR recommend any increase of Report of the All- on national list system on Seanad powers because doing so Party Oireachtas same day as Dáil might lead to legislative gridlock. Committee on the election The 2004 Report recommended Constitution (March  8 nominated by public consultation on legislation 2002) Taoiseach in the Seanad. Otherwise reports  4 nominated by concentrated on giving the 60 members Taoiseach to represent Seanad a role in EU affairs (all citizens resident in NI. three reports), reviewing public 3. Second Progress  15 directly elected to 5 policy and senior public Report of the All- appointments (2004), reviewing Party Oireachtas constituencies on same government programmes and Committee on the day as Dáil election. Constitution(1997) reporting on statutory instruments  28 indirectly elected (14 by members of new Dáil; (1997). 60 members 14 councillors)  6 university seats with electorate from all Irish third level institutions 24  11 nominated by Cameral change is a change in the number of chambers in a parliamentary Taoiseach (3 from NI). structure. 25 There were also reports on the earlier Seanad in 1928 and 1936.

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Abolition of the Seanad chamber’s formal powers. For In 2009 the debate moved from reform example, proponents of reform of the of the Seanad to abolition of the Spanish, French and Italian upper Seanad. 26 In that year both Fine Gael chambers aim to create a genuinely and the Special Group on Public territorial-based chamber. In Australia, Service Numbers and Expenditure many proponents of reform advocate Programmes (McCarthy Report) changing the for the proposed abolishing the Seanad. At Upper House. In Canada, proponents the 2011 election all the main political of reform aim to introduce directly- parties’ advocated Seanad abolition in elected Senators in place of Prime their manifestos, only the Green Party Ministerial appointees. proposed reform. Seanad abolition was proposed as part of wider political In Italy, reformers have called for reform aimed at reducing the size and changes in formal powers. As outlined cost of the political system. The earlier Italy is unusual in that the Government has committed to holding Senate and a referendum on the matter later in have equal powers. 2012. 27 Massicotte identified 30 countries Cost of Seanad28 where second chambers were In January 2012 the Public Accounts abolished in the twentieth century. Committee was informed that the They were abolished by one of two abolition of the Seanad could result in routes: either the overthrow of savings up to €22.5million.29 Direct authoritarian right-wing regimes or costs of €9.2 million (Senators through political reform where second salaries, allowances and staff) could chambers were found to be redundant, be saved immediately with indirect undemocratic or costly. Either way costs saved over time. The Houses of cameral change is a radical the Oireachtas Service is a single development. administration with most staff working for both Houses. Generally bicameral  The abolition of second chambers parliaments have completely separate through political reform occurred in administrations for each House. New Zealand (1951), Denmark (1953), Sweden (1969) and Second chamber reform and Iceland (1991). cameral change globally30 Debate about the future of upper  No mature democratic country has houses in other OECD countries focus restored a second chamber on the composition rather than the abolished in normal circumstances following full debate. 26 In the 1980s the proposed abolishing the Seanad (Manning, There are also countries that never 2010) 27 had second chambers but decided to Programme for Government 2011-2016 http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Publications/P create one. This occurred in former ublications_2011/Programme_for_Government communist countries including _2011.pdf , Newspaper article 26 May 2011 (1990), Slovenia (1991), Russia (1993) http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2 and Bosnia Herzegovina (1998). It 011/0526/1224297787821.html?via=rel 28 News report also occurred in African countries like http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/1017/politics.html; , Senegal and and in McCarthy Report Vol. 2 the Asia-Pacific area; and http://www.finance.gov.ie/documents/pressrele . ases/2009/bl100vol2.pdf 29 Oireachtas Debates http://debates.oireachtas.ie/ACC/2012/01/12/00 004.asp 30 Appendix D of the Seanad CPP Report 2004.

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