Upper house

An upper house, sometimes called a Senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature (or one of three chambers of a tricameral legislature), the other chamber being the lower house. [1] The house formally designated as the upper house is usually smaller and often has more restricted power than the lower house. Examples of upper houses in countries include the UK's House of Lords, India's Rajya Sabha, Russia's Federation Council, Ireland's Seanad, Malaysia's Dewan Negara, Germany's Bundesrat and the United States Senate.

A legislature composed of only one house (and which therefore has neither an upper house nor a lower house) is described as unicameral.

Possible specific characteristics

An upper house is usually different from the lower house in at least one of the following respects:

Powers:

  • In a parliamentary system, it often has much less power than the lower house. Therefore, in certain countries the Upper House
    • votes on only limited legislative matters, such as constitutional amendments.
    • cannot initiate legislation (or cannot initiate legislation on money).
    • cannot vote a motion of no confidence against the government (or such an act is much less common), while the lower house always can.
  • In a presidential system:
    • It may have equal or nearly equal power with the lower house.
    • It may have specific powers not granted to the lower house. For example:
      • It may give advice and consent to some executive decisions (e.g. appointments of cabinet ministers, judges or ambassadors).
      • It may have the sole power to try impeachments against officials of the executive, following enabling resolutions passed by the lower house.
      • It may have the sole power to ratify treaties.

Status:

  • In some countries, its members are not popularly elected; membership may be indirect, hereditary or by appointment.
  • Its members may be elected with a different voting system than that used to elect the lower house (for example, upper houses in Australia and its states are usually elected by proportional representation, whereas lower houses are not).
  • Less populated states, provinces, or administrative divisions may be better represented in the upper house than in the lower house; representation is not completely proportional to population (or not at all).
  • Members' terms may be longer than in the lower house and maybe for life.
  • Members may be elected in portions, for staggered terms, rather than all at one time.
  • In some countries, the upper house cannot be dissolved at all, or can be dissolved only in more limited circumstances than the lower house.
  • It typically has fewer members or seats than the lower house (though notably not in the United Kingdom parliament).
  • It has usually a higher age of candidacy than the lower house.
Other Languages
भोजपुरी: ऊपरी सदन
català: Cambra alta
čeština: Horní komora
dansk: Overhus
Deutsch: Oberhaus
español: Cámara Alta
euskara: Goi ganbera
فارسی: مجلس اعلا
français: Chambre haute
한국어: 상원
Bahasa Indonesia: Majelis Tinggi
italiano: Camera alta
עברית: בית עליון
lumbaart: Cambra alta
Bahasa Melayu: Dewan pertuanan
日本語: 上院
norsk: Overhus
occitan: Chambra auta
português: Câmara alta
Simple English: Upper house
Soomaaliga: Aqalka sare
svenska: Överhus
தமிழ்: மேலவை
Türkçe: Üst meclis
українська: Верхня палата
Tiếng Việt: Thượng viện
中文: 上議院