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A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.
Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide, the lower house has come to wield more power. The lower house typically is the more numerous of the two chambers. A legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.
In comparison with the upper house, lower houses frequently display certain characteristics.
- In a parliamentary system, the lower house:
- In the modern era, has much more power, usually based on restrictions against the upper house.
- Able to override the upper house in some ways.
- Can vote a motion of no confidence against the government.
- Exceptions are Australia, where the Senate has considerable power approximate to that of the House of Representatives, and Italy, where the Senate has exactly the same powers as the Chamber of Deputies.
- In a presidential system, the lower house:
- Debatably somewhat less, the lower house also has exclusive powers in some areas.
- Given the sole power to impeach the executive (the upper house then tries the impeachment).
- Frequently, bills to raise revenue and to appropriate funds must originate in the lower house.
- Status of lower house
- Always elected directly, while the upper house may be elected directly, indirectly, or not elected at all.
- Its members may be elected with a different voting system to the upper house.
- Most populated administrative divisions are better represented than in the upper house; representation is usually proportional to population.
- Elected more frequently.
- Elected all at once, not by staggered terms.
- In a parliamentary system, can be dissolved by the executive.
- More members.
- Has total or original control over budget and monetary laws.
- Lower age of candidacy than the upper house.
Titles of lower houses
Dáil Éireann, Republic of Ireland
Many lower houses are named in the following manner: House/Chamber of Representatives/the People/Commons/Deputies.