Perfect and Imperfect Bicameralism: A Misleading Distinction?

Abstract

The aim of this contribution is to make some points on the distinction between ‘perfect’ (or equal) and ‘imperfect’ (or unequal) bicameralism and its relevance to contemporary discussions about second chambers and their constitutional position. The analysis starts with an assumption that this distinction is somehow under-theorised. The distinction between perfect and imperfect bicameralism, finally resulting in a clear prevalence of the latter, mainly focuses on two aspects: the exercise of legislative function and, in parliamentary regimes, the confidence vote. In spite of the unquestionable relevance of these two components to the activity of parliaments, these analyses are incomplete. The functions and competences of a given second chamber depend on the way it represents pluralism: the weight that each legal system attaches to the representative role of its own second chamber decisively shapes the perimeter of their functions. Important evidence for validating this claim comes from the procedures for passing constitutional amendments, in which second chambers, even in a number of ‘unequal’ bicameral systems, are put on equal footing with first chambers.

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