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A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.

Despite its theoretical position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power. The supremacy of the lower house usually arises from special restrictions placed (either explicitly by legislation or implicitly by convention) on the powers of the upper house, which often can only delay rather than veto legislation or has less control over money bills. Under parliamentary systems it is usually the lower house alone that designates the head of government or prime minister, and may remove them through a vote of no confidence. There are exceptions to this however, such as the Prime Minister of Japan, who is formally selected with the approval of both houses of the Diet. A legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.

Common attributes

In comparison with the upper house, lower houses frequently display certain characteristics:

  • Given greater power, usually based on restrictions against the upper house.
  • Directly elected (apportionment is usually based on population).
  • Given more members.
  • Elected more frequently, and all at once.
  • Given total or original control over budget and monetary laws.
  • Able to override the upper house in some ways.
  • In a presidential system, given the sole power to impeach the executive (the upper house then has to try the impeachment).

Titles of lower houses

Common names

Many lower houses are named in the following manner: House/Chamber of Representatives/the People/Commons/Deputies.

Less common titles

See also

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