Merits and Demerits of Unicameral and Bicameral Legislature
Unicameral legislature operates one legislative chamber/house. Countries that operate unicameralism include Ghana, Kenya, Israel, Bulgaria, Nigeria, etc. and it is operated at state and local government levels.
Merits of Unicameralism (Reasons for Adoption):
(i) Unicameralism is less expensive since only members of one legislative chamber are taken care of.
(ii) Legislative process is quick as bills go through only one chamber to be passed into law.
(iii) It saves the legislature from unnecessary rivalry between lower and upper houses.
(iv) Unicameralism is democratic as the members most of the time are elected.
(v) Legislation avoids unnecessary delay in the passage of bills.
(vi) It is simple and easy to operate.
Demerits of Unicameralism:
(i) It does not provide sufficient check against hasty, rushed and careless legislation.
(ii) It can lead to tyranny and dictatorship of the executive as the strength of a simple chamber may not be able to check the executive.
(iii) Unicameralism is not suitable for the Federal system as there is no second chamber to represent geographical or state interests.
(iv) It may not represent the interest of the minorities adequately as the representatives may come from the majority groups.
(v) It denies the country the services of experienced statesmen, who would have been members of the legislature.
(vi) It limits political participation.
Bicameral Legislature (Bicameralism)
This is a legislative system where two legislative chambers exist to carry out legislative functions in a state, the lower chamber and the upper chamber. Countries that operate bicameral legislature include Nigeria, Great Britain, the USA, and India.
Merits of Bicameral Legislature:
(i) It gives room for thoroughness in the process of lawmaking because two houses have the opportunity to debate and examine bills before becoming law. It prevents hasty legislation.
(ii) The existence of two chambers provides checks and balances on the legislative process.
(ii) The second chamber allows equal representation of constituencies and therefore more democratic.
(iv) In countries, where the membership of the second chamber is based on nominations, the bicameral system provides an opportunity for eminent and experienced persons, from various walks of life, who may not want to go through the rigours of election to serve the state e.g. British House of Lords.
(v) It helps to check against the tyranny of a single chamber.
(vi) It encourages a wider scope of political participation.
(vii) It provides a more effective check on the executive than a single member legislature.
(viii) It reduces the workload of the lower house.
(ix) The mistakes and errors committed in one chamber can be defected and corrected in another chamber.
Demerits of Bicameralism:
(i) It is expensive.
(ii) There may be unhealthy rivalry between the upper and lower chambers.
(iv) It may be used as a means of securing employment for defeated politicians during elections hence it is seen as a dumping ground for political rejects.
(v) It may cause unnecessary delay in the passage of bills, especially during emergency periods.
(vi) It is unnecessary and just a duplication of functions and efforts.