Legislature

Legislature

Overview
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly
Deliberative assembly
A deliberative assembly is an organization comprising members who use parliamentary procedure to make decisions. In a speech to the electorate at Bristol in 1774, Edmund Burke described the English Parliament as a "deliberative assembly," and the expression became the basic term for a body of...

 with the power to pass, amend, and repeal law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

s. The law created by a legislature is called legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 or statutory law
Statutory law
Statutory law or statute law is written law set down by a legislature or by a legislator .Statutes may originate with national, state legislatures or local municipalities...

. In addition to enacting
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower tax
Tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

es and adopt the budget
Budget
A budget is a financial plan and a list of all planned expenses and revenues. It is a plan for saving, borrowing and spending. A budget is an important concept in microeconomics, which uses a budget line to illustrate the trade-offs between two or more goods...

 and other money bill
Money bill
In the Westminster system , a money bill or supply bill is a bill that solely concerns taxation or government spending , as opposed to changes in public law.- Conventions :...

s. Legislatures are known by many names, the most common being parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

 and congress
Congress
A congress is a formal meeting of the representatives of different nations, constituent states, independent organizations , or groups....

, although these terms also have more specific meanings.

In parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

s of government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

, the legislature is formally supreme and appoints a member from its house as the prime minister which acts as the executive.
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Encyclopedia
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly
Deliberative assembly
A deliberative assembly is an organization comprising members who use parliamentary procedure to make decisions. In a speech to the electorate at Bristol in 1774, Edmund Burke described the English Parliament as a "deliberative assembly," and the expression became the basic term for a body of...

 with the power to pass, amend, and repeal law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

s. The law created by a legislature is called legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 or statutory law
Statutory law
Statutory law or statute law is written law set down by a legislature or by a legislator .Statutes may originate with national, state legislatures or local municipalities...

. In addition to enacting
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower tax
Tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

es and adopt the budget
Budget
A budget is a financial plan and a list of all planned expenses and revenues. It is a plan for saving, borrowing and spending. A budget is an important concept in microeconomics, which uses a budget line to illustrate the trade-offs between two or more goods...

 and other money bill
Money bill
In the Westminster system , a money bill or supply bill is a bill that solely concerns taxation or government spending , as opposed to changes in public law.- Conventions :...

s. Legislatures are known by many names, the most common being parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

 and congress
Congress
A congress is a formal meeting of the representatives of different nations, constituent states, independent organizations , or groups....

, although these terms also have more specific meanings.

In parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

s of government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

, the legislature is formally supreme and appoints a member from its house as the prime minister which acts as the executive. In a presidential system
Presidential system
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it....

, according to the separation of powers
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

 doctrine, the legislature is considered an independent and coequal branch of government along with both the judiciary and the executive.

The primary components of a legislature are one or more chambers
Chambers of parliament
Many parliaments or other legislatures consist of two chambers : an elected lower house, and an upper house or Senate which may be appointed or elected by a different mechanism from the lower house. This style of two houses is called bicameral...

or houses: assemblies that debate
Debate
Debate or debating is a method of interactive and representational argument. Debate is a broader form of argument than logical argument, which only examines consistency from axiom, and factual argument, which only examines what is or isn't the case or rhetoric which is a technique of persuasion...

 and vote upon bill
Bill (proposed law)
A bill is a proposed law under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called an act or a statute....

s. A legislature with only one house is called unicameral. A bicameral legislature possesses two separate chambers, usually described as an upper house and a lower house, which often differ in duties, powers, and the methods used for the selection of members. Much rarer have been tricameral legislatures; the Massachusetts Governor's Council
Massachusetts Governor's Council
The Massachusetts Governor's Council is a governmental body that provides advice and consent in certain matters such as judicial nominations, pardons, and commutations to the Governor of Massachusetts...

 still exists, but the most recent national example existed in the waning years of caucasian-minority rule
Tricameral Parliament
The Tricameral Parliament was the name given to the South African parliament and its structure from 1984 to 1994, established by the South African Constitution of 1983...

 in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

.

In most parliamentary systems, the lower house is the more powerful house while the upper house is merely a chamber of advice or review. However, in presidential systems, the powers of the two houses are often similar or equal. In federation
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

s, it is typical for the upper house to represent the component states; the same applies to the supranational legislature of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

. For this purpose, the upper house may either contain the delegates of state governments, as is the case in the European Union and in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and was the case in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 before 1913, or be elected according to a formula that grants equal representation to states with smaller populations, as is the case in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and the modern United States.

Because members of legislatures usually sit together in a specific room to deliberate, seats in that room may be assigned exclusively to members of the legislature. In parliamentary language, the term seat is sometimes used to mean that someone is a member of a legislature. For example, saying that a legislature has 100 "seats" means that there are 100 members of the legislature, and saying that someone is "contesting a seat" means they are trying to get elected as a member of the legislature. By extension, the term seat is often used in less formal contexts to refer to an electoral district itself, as for example in the phrases "safe seat
Safe seat
A safe seat is a seat in a legislative body which is regarded as fully secured, either by a certain political party, the incumbent representative personally or a combination of both...

" and "marginal seat
Marginal seat
A marginal seat, or swing seat, is a constituency held with a particularly small majority in a legislative election, generally conducted under a single-winner voting system. In Canada they may be known as target ridings. The opposite is a safe seat....

".

See also


  • Legislative Assembly
    Legislative Assembly
    Legislative Assembly is the name given in some countries to either a legislature, or to one of its branch.The name is used by a number of member-states of the Commonwealth of Nations, as well as a number of Latin American countries....

  • Legislative Council
    Legislative Council
    A Legislative Council is the name given to the legislatures, or one of the chambers of the legislature of many nations and colonies.A Member of the Legislative Council is commonly referred to as an MLC.- Unicameral legislatures :...

  • List of legislatures by country