The Role of the Senate in the Legislative Process

J.L.W. Broeksteeg, E.T.C. Knippenberg

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In most countries with a bicameral system, the upper house plays a restrained role with regard to the legislature. In this contribution, the position of the upper houses in the netherlands, france, the united kingdom and germany is characterised in terms of rivalry and assistance. ‘rivalry’ is to be taken to mean here the (im)possibility of the upper house to wholly or partially force through its own political policy desires. ‘assistance’ in parliamentary legislative practice implies first and foremost correction as to lawfulness, in particular improvements of a legal-technical nature. Suggestions for ‘enhancing’ the effectiveness and social desirability of legislative texts, as well as their politico-bicameral and non-controversial nature are also placed under the heading ‘assistance’. Only the position of the german bundesrat can be seen as providing a rival to the lower chamber. Neither the french sénat, the house of lords nor the dutch eerste kamer provide (political) rivalry. The sénat and the house of lords do, however, have a strong assisting position: these upper houses play a significant role by using their right of amendment. The dutch upper house has a energetic position ‘on paper’, but, compared to the upper houses in france, the united kingdom and germany, its position is rather weak. Assistance in the area of co-legislation is virtually impossible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-237
JournalMaastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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