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Typically the adjective "bicameral" refers to a two-tiered or chambered legislature. In the United States, for instance, the lower house, the House of Representatives, provides representation according to the population of the given state. Illinois, for example, has more citizens in it than Wyoming, and hence more seats in the House. The upper chamber, or Senate, draws two representatives from each state, for a total of 100. That particular makeup of our national legislature was hammered out in the late 18th century as a compromise between that interests of small and large states, as well as between the Federalists (like Alexander Hamilton and those with little respect for the mob) and the anti-Federalists (like Thomas Jefferson who saw virtue as very largely a rural affair). The British legislative body is also bicameral, but it is distinguished by a different history, a more hierarchical (indeed monarchical) one. There is a people's house which is regularly undergoing coalition formation (no two-party system in Britain), known as the Commons, and a House of Lords, which has for long been a political sinecure of sorts. The real action, however, of British politics transpires in the House of Commons and the Prime Minister's office. Periodically, the prime minister appears before the House of Commons to take a drubbing known as "prime minister's questions." An American president is typically not subjected to such abuse, at least not to his face.
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Oct 1st, 2015
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