Saturday, May 2, 2009



United States. The unicameral system is not a radical experiment in government. Two colonies had unicameral legislatures (Delaware and Pennsylvania - due to Benjamin Franklin being a supporter of Unicameralism) as did three states in the revolutionary and early national period (Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Vermont). The Continental Congress was a unicameral body. The state of Nebraska has been satisfied with its unicameral legislature for more than 60 years.

Local government. Local governments in the United States all have unicameral governing bodies. This was not always so: bicameral governing boards at the local level were once common in this country. Who now would argue that each city, county, and town should have two governing bodies?

Other democracies. Unicameral legislatures exist in other nations that share many of our political traditions. Indeed, several western democratic nations have converted from bicameral to unicameral systems in recent decades.2 The following western democracies have national unicameral legislatures: Finland, Israel, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, and New Zealand. The latter three have converted from bicameral to unicameral structures since World War II. Other jurisdictions, like Iceland and Norway, have legislatures that are elected on a unicameral basis but divide into two houses after election for purposes of processing legislation. Others, like Canada and Britain, have bicameral national legislatures, but practical legislative power is heavily concentrated in one house. Canada's provinces all have unicameral legislatures.

Private organizations. No business or nonprofit corporation would put up with two boards of directors.


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