Senators Credit Democracy For Growing Of Bicameral System
March 15, 2000
PARIS, France (PANA) - The steady increase of states opting for a bicameral
system of government has been attributed to the on-going democratisation
process in various countries.
A World Forum of Senators meeting, the first of its kind, was convened by
the French senate speaker Christian Poncelet Tuesday in Paris to look at
this growing phenomenon.
The meeting brought together speakers from senates and second chambers of
the world's parliaments, including 13 African countries.
Poncelet said the number of states that have opted for the system has
increased from 45 in the early 1970s to 67 today.
He said the trend was set to continue since 12 states were planning to
establish a senate or have already undertaken the requisite decision but
have not yet actually set up one.
The senators observed that the spread of bicameralism reflected a growing
desire to consolidate as well as develop democratic regimes through
diversification of representation.
Recognising the significant resurgence of bicameralism amongst contemporary
parliaments, the senators delivered a final declaration that identified the
system's key strengths.
Among these were an enhanced legislative process, particularly for states
currently pursuing decentralisation policies that justify independent
representation at central level.
Bicameralism provided a more satisfactory framework for the process of
decentralisation under which issues of relations between local and central
authorities could be addressed more effectively.
The senators said bicameralism was necessary as a modern means of ensuring
the separation of powers without which a society has no constitutional
Gabon's senate speaker, George Rawiri, said that the system played a
cohesive role by acting as a guarantor of stability in the transition to
"The system allows governments to be closer to the people and in touch with
the needs of the population," he told PANA.
In their final declaration, the senators resolved to work together with the
Inter-Parliamentary Union to explore in greater depth the role and functions
of senates and upper houses, with due respect to the inherent diversity of
The move, they said, was aimed at spreading, consolidating as well as
reinforcing democratic values.
The senators will later in the year participate in a conference of presiding
officers of national parliaments to be held at the UN headquarters in New
York from 30 August to 1 September.
African countries that attended the day-long meeting included South Africa,
Algeria, Egypt, Senegal, Swaziland, Liberia, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Mauritania,
Namibia, Burundi, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.