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tion have been devised by which certain individuals, by one method or another, are selected or appointed to act as representatives of the whole mass of the people in the legislative functions.
I. BICAMERAL LEGISLATIVE BODIES
Organization of Legislative into Two Chambers.—It is the common practice at the present day to have the legislative body organized in two separate branches,-chambers, or houses, as they are commonly called. This bicameral legislature, originating by a process of unconscious evolution out of the separate deliberative assemblies of the former different social orders, has proved in experience to have such decided advantages over a legislature of a single chamber that it has superseded the single chamber (unicameral) system in all the important countries of the world.
Necessity of Difference in the Composition of the Two Chambers.—To assure these advantages, however, it is necessary that the two houses be not mere duplicates of each other. It is obvious that the mere division of the total number of representatives into two chambers, where all the representatives were chosen under the same system, wouid not operate to make the deliberation in one chamber different in any way from that in the other: it would serve only to retard legislative action.
Various Methods to Insure Difference Found in Upper Houses Only.—The several states vary widely in the methods by which they insure a different character of representation in the two legislative chambers. The variance is found, however, mainly in the composition of the upper house of the legislature; the composition of the lower house is determined in much the same way in all the democratic states.
Lower Chambers the Same.--As a general rule, the members of the lower chamber are elected directly by the people, the state being divided into electoral districts of a size determined by the population, and the electors of each district vot
ing for their representative. The right to vote, the suffrage, for members of this lower house is commonly liberally extended, thus making this chamber most truly popular and representative of the masses of the people in the state. The lower chamber is thus quickly responsive to public political opinion and feeling.
Upper Chambers Different.--The characteristics of the composition of the upper houses cannot be dismissed so briefly. In several of the more important states there is no similarity between the methods of choice, and even in those presenting a superficial similarity closer examination reveals vital differences.
England.—In England the composition of the upper house is unique in that, with the exception of four jurists appointed for life by the monarch and of certain church dignitaries, the sole qualification for membership is a peerage. Of the total membership, seven hundred and twenty-eight, the Scotch peers occupy sixteen seats, the Irish peers twenty-eight seats, and the English peers the remainder. The right of English peers to a seat in the House of Lords is hereditary, descending from one peer to his heir.
Criticism of English System.—This hereditary principle of membership in the upper legislative house is open to severe criticism. No warrant of ability goes with blood-descent. Often the Lords have shown an obstinate blindness to the unalterable course of history and have persisted in trying to stem the flow of liberal government to insure the safety of their own selfish interests, with the result that in recent years the state has taken measures to shear away much of their power, giving them as a body only a right to retard the action of the lower house. And yet strong arguments have been advanced to show that the Lords are capable of being an effective part of the government of England, in that their property is of various kinds, city, country, and commercial, and in that, as they are dependent upon no party or parties for election, their judgment is less liable to be prejudiced by ulterior motives than the judgment of members of the lower house.
Other States with Hereditary Members or Members Appointed by the Monarch.—The hereditary principle is not used for the determination of the entire membership of the upper house in any other great state. In Spain, together with a proportion of nobles having hereditary membership, are members appointed for life by the monarch, and a certain number of elected members. In Italy, outside of the princes of the blood who possess seats by right, the members of the upper house are all appointed by the monarch subject to the approval of the upper house itself. In Denmark a small proportion of the members is nominated by the monarch and the others are elected.
Germany. The upper house (Bundesrath) in the former German Empire was of curious composition, representing the conditions under which the German Empire originated. The Bundesrath was composed of members appointed by the princes of the various states in the federation. The members of the Bundesrath were wholly responsible to their respective princes and had no hereditary right to membership. The seats were distributed among the component members of the federal Empire as the votes were distributed in the old German confederation, Bavaria, however, having six seats instead of four.
In post-war Germany, the upper chamber is known as the Reichsrat. In that body each state has at least one vote. The larger states have one vote for each million inhabitants, provided however that an excess population equal to the population of the smallest state in the federation is to be reckoned as according an additional vote. In order to keep down the relative representation of Prussia, it is further provided that no state shall be accredited with more than two fifths of all votes. The actual delegates representing the states of the federation must be members of the cabinets of their respective states.
Other States All Have Members Elected.-Outside of the states specifically named above, the members of the upper houses, as of the lower, are elected to their seats. Thus the
constitutions of France, Switzerland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Holland, and the United States provide for the election of members of the upper house.
Necessity for Elective Upper Houses of Insuring Difference Between the Two Houses. Methods.-In those countries wherein members of both legislative chambers are elected, the logical absurdity already mentioned of making the upper chamber a mere duplication of the lower has led to arbitrary distinctions in the method of election of members, in the constituencies represented by members, in the qualifications of candidates, and in the tenure of office of members. The elections for the lower chamber may be direct, for the upper may be indirect; the constituency for the members of the lower chamber may be small, for those of the upper chamber, large; the qualifications of candidates for membership in the lower may be markedly different from those of candidates for the upper; the tenure of office for the members of the lower may be some years shorter than that for the members of the upper.
Direct and Indirect Elections. The members of one chamber may be elected by direct election and those of the other chamber by indirect election. In other words, the voter may be allowed to choose directly the man who shall represent him in the lower chamber, but may not be allowed to vote directly for the one who shall represent him in the upper chamber. In the latter case, he may be allowed to choose an intermediary who in conference with other intermediaries shall select the representative.
Such is the system in France. The members of the lower house, or Chamber of Deputies, are chosen by the direct vote of the people; the members of the upper house, the senate, arę chosen by indirect vote in the following way: the senators representing each département (a département is the largest administrative division in France) are chosen by a body composed of officials originally elected by the people, namely, the deputies of the département, the members of the general coun
cil of the département, members of the councils of the various districts (arrondissements) of the département, and delegates elected by the commune councils, these last named being in the majority. In the United States, until the passage of an amendment to the constitution providing for the election of senators by direct vote (1912), the members of the upper house of the national legislature were chosen by the legislatures of the various commonwealths.
Purpose of Indirect Elections. The intent of the system of indirect elections is to remove the election of one branch of the legislature from immediate popular control. Undoubtedly the idea sprang from a distrust of the people. It was the theory that a higher grade of men would be selected for the upper house if this selection were made by a relatively small body elected by the people. It was supposed that the heat of factional struggle, which among the people at large sometimes results in the selection of unfit men, would be less liable to sway the judgment of the intermediary body.
In practice, however, the system has not worked well. Where political parties are strongly developed, the intermediaries have been pledged delegates of a party. The indirect election strictly carried out tends to lessen the voter's interest in the result, for it is not in human nature to be as interested in the selection of a proxy as in the selection of the representative himself. Again, where a comparatively small body of men are concerned in the final selection of a representative, the chances of corrupt influence are much greater than where all the voters are concerned. It is not easy to bribe the whole electorate. On the whole, then, the tendency has been to introduce the direct system of election. The general argument advanced long ago still holds, that if a voter is fit to choose his proxy, he is equally fit to choose his representative.
Variations in the Constituencies.-Variations in the constituencies electing a member to the lower and upper house form a common method of differentiating between the character of the houses. Invariably the constituency electing a