Questions tagged [legislature]

Questions about legislative bodies.

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46 votes
10 answers
17k views

What would stop a representative democracy becoming a dictatorship?

In a representative democracy, those elected pass laws for the country. If a political party had a majority in the relevant legislature(s), could that party use its majority to write a law that ...
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23 votes
5 answers
4k views

Who is the oldest parliamentarian (legislator) on record?

In the US, there are at least three parliamentarians (two Senators and one in the House of Representatives) who are 87 years old. Are there even older people who serve or served in such positions ...
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13 votes
2 answers
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Could Boris Johnson theoretically ignore any legislation passed to prevent no-deal brexit?

The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has clearly set out his position in that he wishes to leave the EU on 31st October with or without a deal. I.e if further negotiations with the EU do not result ...
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12 votes
9 answers
3k views

Expulsion of elected members of the legislature - where is it possible?

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 ...
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12 votes
5 answers
2k views

What European countries have secret voting within the Legislature?

Most, if not all, democratic countries in Europe elect representatives to the national legislature by some form of secret ballot. For example the UK uses secret election on the first-past-the-post ...
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10 votes
4 answers
695 views

How common is pairing?

This question introduced me to an interesting legislative behavior called pairing. In some legislatures, when a member of one party is unable to vote the opposing party may decide to ask one of their ...
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8 votes
2 answers
2k views

What do whips do, exactly?

Whips are senior legislators who enforce what is called "party discipline", but how do they do it, exactly? What is their job? To verbally shame those who don't adhere to the "party ...
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8 votes
1 answer
373 views

Do any legislative branches besides the US have a tradition of voluntarily requiring more than 50% of the votes to pass a law?

In the US Senate there's a peculiar tradition where 60 out of 100 votes are required to overcome filibuster, even though constituonally speaking 51 votes (or 50 votes plus the vice president's tie ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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How do members of extremely large political bodies 'learn the ropes'?

The classic example is the New Hampshire State House, which is (in)famous for having an large number of members with a fairly high turnover rate, many of whom completely lack political experience and ...
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7 votes
1 answer
325 views

Does Ireland's Dáil have an unusually high number of independents, compared to other European legislatures?

I noticed that the 4th largest "party" in the current Dáil are independents with 19/160 seats. Is this proportion high (or not) in a broader European perspective in national legislatures?
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6 votes
5 answers
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Why do legislative committees exist?

Why do legislatures give a tiny subset of their members veto power over a bill? Isn't that undemocratic? Why can't they simply debate and vote on every bill introduced as a whole?
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  • 348
6 votes
3 answers
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Why do bills with a veto-proof majority in Congress go to the President?

If a bill receives a veto-proof vote in Congress, why does it go to the President to sign or veto, only to go back to Congress in the case of a veto, instead of immediately becoming law? The ...
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6 votes
2 answers
795 views

What powers does an individual member of the House of Representatives have?

Once a person is sworn in as a Representative in the lower chamber of the US Congress (the House of Representatives), s/he has some obvious powers: To vote for and against any legislation brought ...
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6 votes
2 answers
274 views

What other countries besides the US have mechanics that allow the minority to block legislation? [duplicate]

Filibustering gives disproportionate leverage to minorities in the Senate. These, in turn, lead to bills not passing or often not even getting past subcommittees. Are there any other instances of this ...
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5 votes
2 answers
351 views

Do any democratic countries have mechanisms to prevent one party from dominating for an extended period?

Is there any country that has constitutional or national law that prevents any party from holding an absolute majority for too long? Examples of various ways how it can be implemented: If a party ...
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5 votes
2 answers
68 views

How does one efficiently go about researching the history of a specific issue across state legislatures?

I am attempting to research a certain political issue across state legislatures. Specifically, I'm attempting to compile information regarding which states have debated a specific issue in their ...
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  • 283
5 votes
1 answer
193 views

Do Senate committees really ever interview low-level nominees?

Does the United States Senate actually take the time to interview low level nominees like nominees for low military general ranks (Brig. General) or really specific roles that require senate ...
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5 votes
2 answers
239 views

Does any country have a viable 'limited filibuster' that allows minority party to selectively prevent only those laws they most dislike?

In the USA the filibuster allows minority parties to prevent passing of bills by the party in power, and is so effective at it that some would argue little get's done in congress since the minority ...
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4 votes
3 answers
636 views

In Muslim-minority countries, is it unusual for Muslim MPs or lawmakers to vote in favour of gay marriage or related legislation?

In Did all of Germany's Muslim MPs voted in favor of same-sex marriage? on Skeptics.SE, someone was surprised by a claim that Germany's Muslim MPs voted in favour of gay marriage. I wasn't that ...
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3 votes
3 answers
279 views

Are there any legislature that has a seat-switch system similar to the NI Assembly?

The Northern Ireland Assembly has a "seat-switch system" (co-option) that allows for MLAs to be replaced without holding by-elections. As the BBC explains: Co-option is the only option when ...
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3 votes
1 answer
142 views

Is there a (reasonably) world-wide quantitative survey of malapportionment in legislative chambers?

By malapportionment I mean the non-proportional allocation of representatives to population by geographical units. Wikipedia has a rather terrible article on the topic, which, while enumerating and ...
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3 votes
1 answer
2k views

In India, can cabinet ministers vote in the house that they are not part of?

Cabinet ministers are allowed to visit either of the houses - Rajya Sabha or Lok Sabha - to discuss and debate the various bills. After the discussion when the bill goes to the division of votes, do ...
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  • 133
2 votes
3 answers
269 views

Can a monarchy have a tripartite division of authority?

Can a monarchy have a tripartite (legislative, executive, judicial) division of authority*? Viz., can a single person (the monarch) exercise all three of these authorities, or does he need to delegate ...
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  • 466
2 votes
1 answer
350 views

If the Capitol weren't available, where would Congress hold votes?

Suppose that a meteor strikes the Capitol building in the middle of the night. No one is close enough to be hurt, but the building is destroyed and totally unusable. Where would Congress hold its ...
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  • 1,617
2 votes
1 answer
449 views

With Law-making powers what are the arguments for and against a Bicameral Welsh Parliament

The Welsh Parliament (currently National Assembly for Wales) / Senedd Cymru (currently Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru) currently has law-making powers covering the areas of devolved responsibility what ...
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1 vote
4 answers
290 views

How is Congress' enforcement of Amendment 14 Section 3 of the Constitution not a Bill of Attainder?

Background According to this answer of Who enforces the insurrection rules in the 14th Amendment, section 3?, congress enforces Section 3 of the amendment just as it enforces all other sections of the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
148 views

Why do some states in India have a unicameral legislature and some have a Bicameral one?

I recently learnt that some states in India have a Bicameral legislature whereas some others have a Unicameral legislature. Why is this so? FYI: The Parliament of India (at the national level) ...
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1 vote
1 answer
163 views

Anti defection law, India

Anti-defection law of India states that "A legislator is deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a ...
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1 vote
0 answers
158 views

Why do most constitutions not have explicit requirement for simple majority vote to pass legislative decision? [closed]

It seems most legislatures around the world just assumes simple majority vote is the default majority required to pass decisions despite it not being required by their constitution. While I understand ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
170 views

Is the US Senate more powerful because it has fewer members?

Paul Weyrich once said "... leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down." This has particular relevance in the Senate. This is because the US House of Representatives ...
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