Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands


Posted by butalidnl on 28 September 2006

The charter change proponents are pushing hard for setting up a “parliamentary-unicameral” system as the alternative to the present “presidential-bicameral”. It is as if a parliamentary system is necessarily unicameral. A look at how other countries’ parliamentary systems work show that many of these have a bicameral arrangement. Even the “mother” of parliamentary systems, that of Britain, has both an upper house (known as the “House of Lords”) and a lower house (“House of Commons”).

Countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy all have a bicameral parliamentary system. The usual reason for having two chambers is the need to balance the overall needs of the country, with the needs of the various states or component provinces. The upper chamber is usually then composed of representatives of the various provinces/states, and the lower chamber represents the population at large.

Another reason for having the upper chamber is the question of representing the aristocracy e.g. in the case of the British House of Lords. In some kingdoms, e.g. those in the middle east, there are advisory councils made up of royal appointees – these could eventually also evolve into upper chambers when a system of general elections are set up that could elect representatives of a “commons” chamber.

Some other countries with a bicameral parliamentary system are: Austria, Canada, France, India, Japan, Ireland, Malaysia,Pakistan, South Africa and Switzerland. As you can see, having a bicameral parliament is not uncommon at all.

It seems that countries with a diverse population e.g. India, Malaysia, Switzerland and South Africa have adopted the bicameral parliamentary system. Probably this is in order to ensure that national policies also take full consideration of differing regional and ethnic needs. For the Philippines, I feel that we would also need to have a bicameral parliament, to give justice to our diversity as a nation.


One Response to “Parliamentary-unicameral?”

  1. Mike Arroyo said

    PGMA sucks

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