88

The only obstacle between a government by the people and a dictatorship are the people.


79

Most democratic countries have a constitution which says how the state functions and what kinds of laws can and can not be made. Laws which contradict the constitution are usually declared invalid by a constitutional court. However, most democracies also have a process by which they can modify the constitution. This usually requires a larger majority than a ...


42

A good example of a system trying to prevent this is the Constitution of Norway. The constitution has various ways to protect itself from being altered in undesirable ways. Changes to the constitution require a 2/3 majority in parliament, and perhaps more importantly, they require two consecutive parliaments to confirm the changes. This means that if a ...


42

I don't know if there are any older cases, but Strom Thurmond stepped down from the US Senate at age 100 years and 29 days, having served just short of 50 years as a Senator for South Carolina. There are a couple of US Senators who lived longer lives than Thurmond, but neither of them were still serving at 100.


30

Manny Shinwell at 101 After quite a long career in the House of Commons (UK) as a Labour MP from 1922 to 1924, and 1928 to 1970 (and an arrest for Red Clydeside agitation in 1919 in Glasgow!), he accepted a Life Peerage in 1970, serving in the House of Lords, until he was 101 years old in 1986, when he retired just weeks before his death that same year.


29

Committees exist primarily to increase the efficiency with which legislative bodies can review potential legislation. Carefully considering a bill is a time consuming process, and the more people there are who are involved in it, the longer it takes. A legislature with a dozen committee can review more than twelve times as many bills as a legislature without ...


22

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 ...


22

Rita Levi-Montalcini (103) Scientist, Nobel prize laureate, appointed as Senator for Life in 2001 by the President of the Italian Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. She died in 2012 at the age of 103.


20

Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution specifically states that all bills are sent to the President and that vetoed bills must be returned to Congress for reconsideration: ... Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve ...


19

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 ...


14

Usually legislative bodies will have some sort of orientation handbook or process for newly elected members. In your example of New Hampshire this is actually written into legislation - Title 1 Chapter 17C of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes establishes a committee on legislator orientation with a responsibility: To prepare, print and distribute a ...


13

@joe-c is right they do keep the leadership informed of concerns. They have a number of roles:- Get to know individual legislators and what motivates / interests them Identify bills or points that are problematic Try to come up with solutions to get bills through Parliamentary arithmetic will dictate how important their role is and how much the whips will ...


12

Given your stated party affiliation, the implication is that you want to know how the US could become a dictatorship under a flawed but idolized executive who is beloved by the masses. First, you need an extreme popular support (at a 30-40% approval rating, you're no where close with present executives, so there). Next, you need to be able to get a super-...


12

@hszmv's excellent answer already alludes to this - there is also another major factor, to whit, the guys with big sticks. AKA, the military. Obviously, how the military feels about things has a very large effect on success of any major national transformation. If the majority of the military opposes your bid for power, no matter how "legal"/"democratic", ...


12

This would become a rather murky area, without precedents to go by. According to Article 50 (1), each country can decide to leave the EU in accordance with their own constitutional requirements. There is no serious doubt that the initial Article 50 declaration was in accordance with UK constitutional requirements, so the two-year clock is ticking. It was ...


12

The EU parliament itself seems to have a procedure to use secret ballots in some cases: Normally MEPs vote by show of hands, and the President of the sitting determines the majorities in each case. If the show of hands is unclear, the president calls for an electronic vote to secure a more precise result. A roll call vote must be taken if requested by a ...


8

Which other European countries have secret voting by representatives in the national legislature? There are countries where (at least some) votes by representatives in the national legislature are secret. For example, the Netherlands. The Dutch House of Representatives uses written voting when voting about people. In Dutch (from parlement.com): Stemmingen ...


8

The closest example I can think of is Singapore's Non-Constituency MP and Nominated MP systems. Singapore is a single party democracy that uses a UK-style constituency system. In 2015 the ruling PAP party won 83 contested seats, compared to just 6 for the WP opposition (and none for anyone else). However, WP were awarded an additional 3 non-constituency MPs ...


7

Why do legislatures give a tiny subset of their members veto power over a bill? As a general rule, they don't. The legislative leadership generally has the power to bypass committees if they want to do so. If a committee is simply never considering a bill, then chances are that the leadership of that legislature simply doesn't want to consider the bill. ...


7

The vast majority of new representative democracies lapse into dictatorship early on. The English Civil War in England the converted England from a monarchy to a Republic in the late 1600s, collapsed after a few years and was followed by the restoration of an absolute monarchy from which a representative democracy emerged gradually over the next two hundred ...


7

can an individual rep force a floor vote on moving his/her proposed act forward? No. This is why control of the chambers matter. The Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate control whether a given bill receives a floor vote. There may be particular circumstances when a member or members can force a vote, but this is not a generic power ...


7

Anywhere Congress can agree to. From Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution: Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting. In United States v. Ballin, Article I, Section 5 was further interpreted to ...


7

What pieces of U.S. legislation passed with a supermajority in both houses of Congress without being vetoed? Actually, most of the legislation passed by Congress passes unanimously or with supermajority support. While legislation upon which there are partisan divides is notable and attracts the most media attention, a huge share of all legislation is passed ...


7

From Rajya Sabha, India Ram Boolchand Jethmalani probably was the oldest person to serve as a member of the Rajya Sabha, India. He served till his death at the age of 95 (actually just six days short of 96). The earlier answer about Rishang Keishing was based on an old source, who retired at the age of 93. From State Legislature Velikkakathu Sankaran ...


7

It can be effective, but often is not. An occasion where it was, that happened to me. Back in the early 2000s, I found an interesting little book on Amazon.co.uk, a study by the RAND Corporation of the UK's capabilities and infrastructure for building nuclear-powered submarines. It made a convincing case that if the sole shipyard capable of building them had ...


6

Refusing to make the request for an extension would create a constitutional crisis. The UK has no written constitution, but by convention the PM would be obliged to follow the clear will of Parliament via an Act. There would in fact be a legal obligation, created by the Act, to request the extension. As a result of refusal two things could happen. The most ...


6

This is the typical process in a system based on proportional representation and a party list. For example using the D'Hondt method of apportion. For example, in the Netherlands, Andeweg and Irwin state that "If a vacancy occurs it is filled by beginning at the top of the list and continuing down until a candidate on the list accepts election."


6

Yes. Below is a boxplot which shows the current (March 2020) proportion of independent members of each house of each national parliament in the European Union. From this, we can identify outliers in a statistical sense - any chamber that has more than ~6% of its membership represented by independent candidates should be considered an outlier. The chambers ...


5

There is a convenient Library of Congress article that details instances across the globe where a supermajority is needed for certain parliamentary procedures, of which a filibuster is an example. There's a PDF in the link that contains the full report, including full references. Some examples taken from the summary, with the last two basically being ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible