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A senate is a 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...

, often the upper house
Upper house
An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

 or chamber of a legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 or 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...

. There have been many such bodies in history, since senate means the assembly of the eldest and wiser members of the society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 and ruling class
Ruling class
The term ruling class refers to the social class of a given society that decides upon and sets that society's political policy - assuming there is one such particular class in the given society....

. Two of the first official senates were the Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

n Gerousia
Gerousia
The Gerousia was the Spartan senate . It was made up of 60 year old Spartan males. It was created by the Spartan lawgiver Lycurgus in the seventh century BC, in his Great Rhetra...

(Γερουσία) and the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

.

Many countries currently have an assembly named a senate, composed of senators who may be elected
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

, appointed, have inherited
Inheritance
Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights and obligations upon the death of an individual. It has long played an important role in human societies...

 the title, or gained membership by other methods, depending on the country. Modern senates typically serve to provide a chamber of "sober second thought" to consider legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 passed by a lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

, whose members are usually elected.

Overview


The modern word senate is derived from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 word senātus (senate), which comes from senex, "old man". The members or legislators of a senate are called senators. The Latin word senator was adopted into English with no change in spelling. Its meaning is derived from a very ancient form of simple social organization in which decision-making powers are reserved for the eldest men. For the same reason, the word senate is correctly used when referring to any powerful authority characteristically composed by the eldest members of a community, as a deliberative body of a faculty in an institution of higher learning is often called a senate. The original senate was the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

, which lasted until 580 (various efforts to revive it were made in Medieval Rome). In the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine Senate
Byzantine Senate
The Byzantine Senate or Eastern Roman Senate was the continuation of the Roman Senate, established in the 4th century by Constantine I. It survived for centuries but was increasingly irrelevant until its eventual disappearance in the 13th century....

 continued until the Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
The Fourth Crusade was originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Instead, in April 1204, the Crusaders of Western Europe invaded and conquered the Christian city of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire...

, circa 1202–1204.

Modern democratic states with bicameral 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 are sometimes equipped with a senate, often distinguished from an ordinary parallel lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

, known variously as the "House of Representatives
House of Representatives
House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national states. In some countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral legislature, with the corresponding upper house often called a "senate". In other countries, the House of...

", "House of Commons
House of Commons
The House of Commons is the name of the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada and historically was the name of the lower houses of Ireland and North Carolina...

", "Chamber of Deputies
Chamber of Deputies
Chamber of deputies is the name given to a legislative body such as the lower house of a bicameral legislature, or can refer to a unicameral legislature.-Description:...

", "National Assembly
National Assembly
National Assembly is either a legislature, or the lower house of a bicameral legislature in some countries. The best known National Assembly, and the first legislature to be known by this title, was that established during the French Revolution in 1789, known as the Assemblée nationale...

", "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....

", or "House of Assembly
House of Assembly
House of Assembly is a name given to the legislature or lower house of a bicameral parliament. In some countries this may be at a subnational level....

", by electoral rules. This may include minimum age required for voters and candidates, proportional or majoritarian
Majoritarianism
Majoritarianism is a traditional political philosophy or agenda which asserts that a majority of the population is entitled to a certain degree of primacy in society, and has the right to make decisions that affect the society...

 or plurality system
Plurality voting system
The plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member constituencies...

, and an electoral basis or collegium. Typically, the senate is referred to as the upper house and has a smaller membership than the lower house. In some federal states senates also exist at the subnational level. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 all states with the arguable exception of Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

 (whose legislature is a unicameral body called the "Legislature" but whose members refer to themselves as "senators") have a state senate. There is also the national-level US Senate. 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...

 all states other than Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

 and Tasmania
Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

 have an upper house known as a 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 :...

. Several Canadian provinces also once had legislative councils, but these have all been abolished, the last being Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

's Legislative Council, in 1968. In Germany, all States are now unicameral, with the last upper house (Bavaria) being abolished in 1999.

Senate membership can be determined either through elections or appointments. For example, elections are held every three years for half the membership of the Australian Senate
Australian Senate
The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Australia, the lower house being the House of Representatives. Senators are popularly elected under a system of proportional representation. Senators are elected for a term that is usually six years; after a double dissolution, however,...

, the term of a senator being six years. In contrast, members of the Canadian Senate are appointed by the Governor General
Governor General of Canada
The Governor General of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II...

 upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Canada
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

, holding the office until they resign, are removed, or retire at the mandatory age of 75. In larger countries, the senate often serves a balancing effect by giving a larger share of power to regions or groups which would otherwise be overwhelmed under strictly popular apportionment
Apportionment
The legal term apportionment means distribution or allotment in proper shares.It is a term used in law in a variety of senses...

.

Alternative meanings


The terms Senate and Senator, however, do not necessarily refer to a second chamber of a legislature:
  • The Senate of Finland
    Senate of Finland
    The Senate of Finland combined the functions of cabinet and supreme court in the Grand Duchy of Finland from 1816 to 1917 and in the independent Republic of Finland from 1917 to 1918....

     was, until 1919, the executive branch and the supreme court.
  • In German politics: In the city state Bundesländer
    States of Germany
    Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

     of Berlin
    Berlin
    Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

    , Bremen
    Bremen (state)
    The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen is the smallest of Germany's 16 states. A more informal name, but used in some official contexts, is Land Bremen .-Geography:...

     and Hamburg
    Hamburg
    -History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

    , the Senates (Senat in German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

    ) are the executive branch, with Senator (Senator) being the holders of ministerial portfolios. In a number of cities, such as Greifswald
    Greifswald
    Greifswald , officially, the University and Hanseatic City of Greifswald is a town in northeastern Germany. It is situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, at an equal distance of about from Germany's two largest cities, Berlin and Hamburg. The town borders the Baltic Sea, and is crossed...

    , Lübeck
    Lübeck
    The Hanseatic City of Lübeck is the second-largest city in Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany, and one of the major ports of Germany. It was for several centuries the "capital" of the Hanseatic League and, because of its Brick Gothic architectural heritage, is listed by UNESCO as a World...

    , Rostock
    Rostock
    Rostock -Early history:In the 11th century Polabian Slavs founded a settlement at the Warnow river called Roztoc ; the name Rostock is derived from that designation. The Danish king Valdemar I set the town aflame in 1161.Afterwards the place was settled by German traders...

    , Stralsund
    Stralsund
    - Main sights :* The Brick Gothic historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.* The heart of the old town is the Old Market Square , with the Gothic Town Hall . Behind the town hall stands the imposing Nikolaikirche , built in 1270-1360...

    , or Wismar
    Wismar
    Wismar , is a small port and Hanseatic League town in northern Germany on the Baltic Sea, in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern,about 45 km due east of Lübeck, and 30 km due north of Schwerin. Its natural harbour, located in the Bay of Wismar is well-protected by a promontory. The...

    , the city government is also called a Senate. However, in Bavaria
    Bavaria
    Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

    , the Senate was a second legislative chamber until its abolition in 1999.
  • In German jurisdiction: The term Senat (senate) in higher courts of appeal refers to the "bench
    Bench (metonymy)
    Bench can be used as a metonym for a group of people associated with sitting on particular benches. The words chair, seat and desk can be used in similar ways....

    " in its broader metonymy
    Metonymy
    Metonymy is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept...

     meaning, describing members of the judiciary
    Judiciary
    The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

     collectively (usually five judge
    Judge
    A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

    s), often occupied with of a particular subject-matter jurisdiction
    Subject-matter jurisdiction
    Subject-matter jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter. For instance, bankruptcy court only has the authority to hear bankruptcy cases....

    . However, the judges are not called "senators". The German term Strafsenat in a German court translates to Bench of penal-law jurisdiction
    Criminal jurisdiction
    Criminal jurisdiction is a term used in constitutional law and public law to describe the power of courts to hear a case brought by a state accusing a defendant of the commission of a crime...

    and Zivilsenat to Bench of private-law jurisdiction
    Private law
    Private law is that part of a civil law legal system which is part of the jus commune that involves relationships between individuals, such as the law of contracts or torts, as it is called in the common law, and the law of obligations as it is called in civilian legal systems...

    . The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
    Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
    The Federal Constitutional Court is a special court established by the Grundgesetz, the German basic law...

     consists of two senates of eight judges each. In its case the division is mostly of an organizational nature, as a matter of dividing the work load; both senates handle the same kind of constitutional cases. At some points in the past, one senate was considered more conservative and the other more liberal, but that is not the case as of 2011.
  • In Scotland
    Scotland
    Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

    , judges of the High Court of Justiciary
    High Court of Justiciary
    The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court of Scotland.The High Court is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal. As a court of first instance, the High Court sits mainly in Parliament House, or in the former Sheriff Court building, in Edinburgh, but also sits from time...

     are called Senators of the College of Justice.
  • In some, mostly federal countries with a unicameral legislature, some of the legislators are elected differently from the others and are called Senators. In federal countries, such Senators represent the territories, while the other members represent the people at large (this device is used to allow a federal representation without having to establish a bicameral legislature); this is the case with St. Kitts and Nevis, Comoros
    Comoros
    The Comoros , officially the Union of the Comoros is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar...

     and Micronesia
    Micronesia
    Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

    . In other, non-federal countries, the use of the term Senator marks some other difference between such members and the rest of the legislators (such as the method of selection); this is the case with the States
    States of Jersey
    The States of Jersey is the parliament and government of Jersey.The Assembly of the States of Jersey has exercised legislative powers since 1771, when law-making power was transferred from the Royal Court of Jersey....

     of Jersey
    Jersey
    Jersey, officially the Bailiwick of Jersey is a British Crown Dependency off the coast of Normandy, France. As well as the island of Jersey itself, the bailiwick includes two groups of small islands that are no longer permanently inhabited, the Minquiers and Écréhous, and the Pierres de Lecq and...

    , Dominica
    Dominica
    Dominica , officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an island nation in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean Sea, south-southeast of Guadeloupe and northwest of Martinique. Its size is and the highest point in the country is Morne Diablotins, which has an elevation of . The Commonwealth...

    's House of Assembly
    House of Assembly of Dominica
    The House of Assembly is the legislature of Dominica. It is established by Chapter III of the Constitution of Dominica, and together with the President of Dominica constitutes Dominica's Parliament. The House is unicameral, and consists of twenty-one Representatives, nine Senators, and an...

     and the Saint Vincent
    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Lesser Antilles chain, namely in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, which lie at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean....

     House of Assembly
    House of Assembly of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
    The House of Assembly of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a unicameral legislature that serves as the legislative body for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines....

    .
  • In Wales
    Wales
    Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

    , the National Assembly for Wales
    National Assembly for Wales
    The National Assembly for Wales is a devolved assembly with power to make legislation in Wales. The Assembly comprises 60 members, who are known as Assembly Members, or AMs...

     debating chamber is called the Senedd
    Senedd
    The Senedd , also known as the National Assembly building, houses the debating chamber and three committee rooms for the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff. The Senedd building was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 1 March 2006 and the total cost was £69.6 million, which included £49.7M in...

    , pronounced 'Seneth'.
  • A Senate can also be the ruling body
    Academic Senate
    An Academic Senate is a governing body in some universities and colleges, and is typically the supreme academic authority for the institution.-Scotland:...

     of a university
    University
    A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

    .

National senates in the world



Defunct senates