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Are there world states which have an elected legislature, not subject to a higher authority (except the law), in which elected members can be expelled by a majority of the other elected members? That is, overriding the supposed mandate from the electorate?

Note: Let's limit the question to stable states with a not-insignificant population so as to exclude less-significant outliers.

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    In Germany, members of parliament can be excluded from sessions by the president of the parliament. This is not expulsion (since it is temporary), but (apart from some special cases) it means they cannot vote in that session, which hinders them from executing their mandate. – Eike Pierstorff Sep 9 at 10:19
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    If you can expand on this possibility, I think this would constitute an upvotable, if obviously incomplete, answer. – einpoklum Sep 9 at 11:04
  • @EikePierstorff You might want to elaborate on this by posting an answer to this question. – Philipp Sep 9 at 11:21
  • Ups, I stumbled over a false friend. I think "session" in English is a parliamentary year, which is not at all what I meant. They can be excluded from single meetings of the parliament (which still might be an issue if the parliament votes on a bill), but all in all I think this is more an aside, and it does not quite fit the question. – Eike Pierstorff Sep 9 at 11:34
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    @einpoklum If it can’t, then it’s not sovereign. That’s literally what sovereignty means. – Mike Scott Sep 12 at 9:53
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In the United States there is the process of Expulsion which can be used by the US Senate and the US House of Representatives to remove the mandate of one of their elected members. This process is usually only used when a representative committed a serious crime, but it is hard to deny that such processes always also have a political component.

In the history of the United States it was used successfully to expel 15 senators and 5 representatives. The last one was Representative James Traficant in 2002. The reason for his expulsion was that a court found him guilty of committing several crimes.

The replacement procedure for representatives who get removed that way is the same as for any other reason why a representative might vacate their position. A representative in the house gets replaced through a snap election in the district they represent. For senators, it depends on which state they are from. It might either happen through appointment by the governor or also through a snap election.

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    There was talk of doing this in 2019 after it became apparent that the NC-9 election had been the subject of serious fraud regarding absentee ballots. But the state board of elections refused to certify it, so it was not necessary for the House to take that step. Instead, a special election was held. – Kevin Sep 10 at 0:31
  • It's interesting that the Senate has had three times the number of these expulsions as the House of Representatives. The Senate is usually a much smaller body. – Panzercrisis Sep 11 at 23:39
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    @Panzercrisis That statistic is a bit skewed due to a single event. When the civil war broke out, 11 senators were expelled at once because they supported the Confederation. – Philipp Sep 12 at 0:03
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Yes, the UK would be one example.

The expulsion by the House of Commons of one of its Members may be regarded as an example of the House's power to regulate its own constitution, though it is, for convenience, treated here as one of the methods of punishment at the disposal of the House. Members have been expelled for a wide variety of causes.1 In some cases, such as the last case in which expulsion was imposed, it was in consequence of a Member being sentenced to a term of imprisonment...

https://erskinemay.parliament.uk/section/4562/expulsion/

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  • This is particularly interesting seeing how UK house representation is regional rather than national-party-list-based. So, IIRC, upon explusion - a new election is held immediately by the constituency whose representative got expelled? – einpoklum Sep 9 at 11:07
  • @einpoklum Yes, the process starts more or less immediately. There would be some time to file nominations and for ballot papers to be printed. It was about a month in the last case. If we're getting hypothetical about what an evil House of Commons could do, in principle they could vote against holding a by-election. – richardb Sep 9 at 11:24
  • @einpoklum yes; whenever a seat is vacated for any reason, a new election is held, typically within months unless an election is due anyway. – Steve Melnikoff Sep 9 at 11:27
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    @einpoklum If a governing party has a reliable majority in the Commons, in theory it can do all of these things, as well as change the standing orders, control the schedule -- and pass legislation. For that last one, any bills must also be passed by the House of Lords; but if the Lords refuses to pass a bill, the Commons can bypass them after a delay. In the absence of a constitution with additional safeguards, there are few checks on a government that was committed to doing things like this. – Steve Melnikoff Sep 9 at 13:33
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    @origimbo: In the UK, the constitution is anything but entrenched. Parliament can change anything and everything just by passing a law (there are some wrinkles such as Queen's Consent, but the Queen will generally do as the PM "advises" her, so most of those wrinkles don't really matter for a sufficiently determined majority). See for example the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. – Kevin Sep 10 at 0:38
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The French national assembly (lower chamber of parliament) has different disciplinary sanctions. After several rules violations and a whole lot of procedure, the most severe punishment that the assembly can inflict on one of its members is a 30-day exclusion (that's 30 days when the parliament sits, not 30 calendar days, in practice it means a quarter) so it doesn't go all the way to a permanent expulsion as in some of the cases that have been mentioned.

Disciplinary proceedings are managed by the bureau, a 22-member “board” whose composition reflects the composition of the assembly at large (each constituted parliamentary group gets some seats and the board should aim for an even number of men and women) but temporary exclusion requires a plenary vote.

If a member committed a criminal offense (within or outside parliament), the assembly can vote to lift his or her immunity or notify the public prosecutor. If that member of parliament is found guilty of specific offenses, they can be disenfranchised by a judge, which forces them to immediately resign their position and can prevent their reelection. That would mostly happen for office-related offenses, corruption or fraud as there is no automatic felony disenfranchisement in France. Obviously, this involves the justice system so it is not something the parliament can decide on its own.

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  • Thanks. I'm starting to think that maybe there's some correlation between whether elections are regional or all-national w.r.t. the ability to properly expel (not talking about criminal offenses). – einpoklum Sep 9 at 12:58
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    @einpoklum I'm not sure I get what you mean by regional v. national elections? In France like in the UK, member of the lower house (national assembly) are each elected in their own district. The difference between the two is only FPTP (UK) vs. run-off (France). – jcaron Sep 9 at 22:54
  • @jcaron: Ah, ok, I didn't realize that. – einpoklum Sep 9 at 22:58
  • In addition to the 30 days of exclusion, their salary is also halved for two months. – WoJ Sep 11 at 12:55
5

Apart from the temporary exclusion I mentioned in a comment, the German "Bundeswahlgesetz" allows to exclude rightfully elected members of parliament at least in two cases:

§ 46 Verlust der Mitgliedschaft im Deutschen Bundestag (1) Ein Abgeordneter verliert die Mitgliedschaft im Deutschen Bundestag bei

  1. Ungültigkeit des Erwerbs der Mitgliedschaft,
  2. Neufeststellung des Wahlergebnisses,
  3. Wegfall einer Voraussetzung seiner jederzeitigen Wählbarkeit,
  4. Verzicht,
  5. Feststellung der Verfassungswidrigkeit der Partei oder der Teilorganisation einer Partei, der er angehört, durch das Bundesverfassungsgericht nach Artikel 21 Abs. 2 Satz 2 des Grundgesetzes.

1 and 2 mean that the MP has not been properly elected in the first place (election fraud or changes due to a recount), 4 means he reneges voluntarily. Relevant for the question are 3 and 5.

"Wegfall einer Voraussetzung seiner jederzeitigen Wählbarkeit" means that he would not be eligible in case of a new election. E.g. you cannot be elected if you are a convicted felon, so presumably you would lose your seat (since MPs have immunity the bar for this is very high, and in cases that I can remember they usually stepped down voluntarily).

"Feststellung der Verfassungswidrigkeit der Partei oder der Teilorganisation einer Partei, der er angehört" means that if the party the MP belongs to, or any organisation run by the party, is deemed unconstitutional (in this context, actively seeking to overthrow the constitution), their members can be removed from parliament. Again, the bar for this is very high, the only example I can (vaguely) remember is that in the 1950s some minor extreme right wing organisation was declared unconstitutional and lost their seats (I will see if I find the details, but no promises). This requires a decision by the Verfassungsgericht (broadly equivalent to the US Supreme Court).

After the courts have ruled, this (i.e. expulsion) requires a decision by the Council of Elders of the Bundestag (sounds a lot less Tolkienesk in German), so while not all PMs are involved in the decision, it is a decision made by at least some elected members.

My source for the above is a page by the Federal Agency for Civic Education/Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung. Unfortunately they only say the the decision has to be made without delay ("Die Entscheidung ist unverzüglich von Amts wegen zu treffen"), but not if the council has much leeway regarding the outcome, or if this is just a confirmation of the court decision.

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  • (+1) Where is the role of the Ältestenrat in this procedure explained? It sounds more like a formal step that is (in principle) not discretionary rather than a decision. Another case would be losing/renouncing your citizenship. – Relaxed Sep 9 at 16:04
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    Regarding party bans, there has been only two under the Grundgesetz. The KPD did not have any MdB anymore, Fritz Doris lost his seat when the SRP was banned. As far as I know, he was the only one to do so as a result of this decision. His party (the one that ended up being banned) did not exist when he was elected in 1949 and the other members of the DKP-DRP in the Bunderstag didn't join it in 1950 and ultimately ended up scattering in other political parties. – Relaxed Sep 9 at 16:06
  • @Relaxed, I forgot to add my source (Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, I will add the link). Unfortunately, you now know exactly as much as myself - they say that this requires a "Beschluss", but do not say if the Ältestenrat has any leeway, and the procedure is so rare that I could not give any details. – Eike Pierstorff Sep 9 at 16:14
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    This sounds similar to the Bundespräsident's signature to sign a bill into law. The constitution simply states as a fact that the President signs the bill into law, but around this simple statement, there has been developed a finely tuned and balanced theory of unwritten rules, because it has happened a few times in the history that the President didn't sign the bill, which is something that is simply not foreseen in the constitution at all. The constitution just goes: Parliament votes, President signs, boom, we have a law. I expect something similar will happen in this case. – Jörg W Mittag Sep 9 at 18:19
  • @JörgWMittag, that is my reading, too. At least the Bundeszentrale uses the word "Entscheidung", which implies that, in theory, there are multiple possible outcomes. – Eike Pierstorff Sep 9 at 18:33
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In Brazil this is definitively possible, and explicitly supported by Article 55 of our constitution. It goes to a vote in the same chamber as the member being potentially expelled, and requires a majority of members, not just members present, to expel.

Stated reasons are:

  1. violating conflict-of-interest restrictions in Article 54, such as accumulating other public jobs or being, say, CEO of a private company doing business with the government.
  2. Doing anything incompatible with parliamentary decorum. Yeah, vague like that.
  3. Unjustified absences to over two-third of scheduled sessions.

Note that there are other conditions in which the justice system may force them out without such a peer vote. E.g. convicted of a crime (I think it translates as felony, but IANAL) with no possibility of appeal.

References are in Brazilian Portuguese.

https://www.jusbrasil.com.br/topicos/10633862/artigo-55-da-constituicao-federal-de-1988 https://jus.com.br/artigos/44513/o-supremo-tribunal-federal-e-a-cassacao-de-mandato-de-parlamentar

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  • "same chamber" - as the expulsion candidate? Also - what is "some sort" of supermajority? And are there preconditions to expulsion? Specific causes allowed? – einpoklum Sep 9 at 20:06
  • @einpoklum Tried to clarify. It turns out that expression does not translate as supermajority as I think it means in English. – Emilio M Bumachar Sep 9 at 20:21
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Expulsion is possible in the Michigan Legislature.

Just five years ago, the fourth legislator ever was expelled by a 91-12 vote (and another resigned for the same scandal). Expulsion requires a two-thirds majority.

The law providing for expulsions:

§ 16 Legislature; officers, rules of procedure, expulsion of members.

Sec. 16. Each house, except as otherwise provided in this constitution, shall choose its own officers and determine the rules of its proceedings, but shall not adopt any rule that will prevent a majority of the members elected thereto and serving therein from discharging a committee from the further consideration of any measure. Each house shall be the sole judge of the qualifications, elections and returns of its members, and may, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members elected thereto and serving therein, expel a member. The reasons for such expulsion shall be entered in the journal, with the votes and names of the members voting upon the question. No member shall be expelled a second time for the same cause.

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In South Korea, it is possible for members of the National Assembly, the legislature, to be expelled if they violate certain laws and regulations. More than two-thirds of the legislature must give their approval to expel a member. Only one lawmaker, Kim Young-sam was ever expelled. Source

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  • And... 1. Are elections in SK regional, or country-wide? 2. If it's the former, does that region/province hold a by-election/replacement election immediately? – einpoklum Sep 10 at 10:25
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    @einpoklum 253 members represent their local voting districts, and 47 members are elected through nationwide proportional representation. If a lawmaker representing a certain region loses their seat, there is a by-election, and if a lawmaker elected through proportional representation loses their seat, the next candidate on the party's list gets the seat. – Stuck Sep 11 at 2:05
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Expulsion of Members of Parliament in India

Rule 374 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha says:

(1) The Speaker may, if deems it necessary, name a Member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof.

(2) If a Member is so named by the Speaker, the Speaker shall, on a motion being made forthwith put the question that the Member (naming such Member) be suspended from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session: Provided that the House may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.

(3) A member suspended under this rule shall forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House.

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In Australia, there is no power of expulsion, however members may be suspended for the remainder of their term for what amounts to "contempt". This is extremely rare - most suspensions are for 5 days or less and those are quite uncommon to begin with.

Refer: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/House_of_Representatives/Powers_practice_and_procedure/Practice7/HTML/Chapter20/Punishment_of_Members

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  • Though importantly, a member can be referred to the Court of Disputed Returns to investigate whether they were elected in breach of the Constitution (e.g. section 44 being the most recent series of infringements). – Aaron Sep 11 at 4:57

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