Bicameralism is today a common feature of constitutional democracy. At its best, bicameralism diversifies democratic representation, strengthens representative government, promotes legislative deliberation, and reinforces the separation of powers. Yet bicameralism has often failed either to fulfil its intended purposes or to keep pace with the evolution of constitutional democracy. Many constitutional states, for instance Canada, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom, have sought to revise their bicameral arrangements only to confront significant legal or political barriers to change. Only relatively few reforms have succeeded. This Symposium will inquire why. Drawing from country-specific and cross-national experiences with bicameralism, scholars in this Symposium will bring to bear comparative, doctrinal, historical, legal and theoretical perspectives to the study of constitutional reform of national legislatures.
This Symposium will devote one session to constitutional reform in Italy. Bicameralism in Italy has been a matter of controversy since the drafting of the Constitution in 1946-47. Both chambers in Italy are co-equal in the most important ways: they are directly elected, they exercise the same legislative powers, and they possess the same confidence relationship with the executive branch.
Yet bicameralism in Italy has been the object of several failed reform efforts both to overcome the challenges of perfect bicameralism and its degeneration, as well as to guarantee a representation of local and regional authorities as the country moves toward greater regionalization. Italy is currently undertaking a major constitutional reform to its bicameral arrangements.
These and other developments raise important questions for constitutionalism. How should a legislature be structured, and what values—democracy, representation, efficiency, deliberation— should its design prioritize? Does bicameralism still fit the times in light of
the globalization and Europeanisation of public policies, the increasing dominance of judicial and executive actors, mounting calls for greater devolution of legislative powers to subnational levels of government and the multiplication of levels of government? When and under what conditions is a bicameral arrangement to be preferred over a unicameral one? How can second chambers best perform their functions?
Deadline for abstract submission: November 30, 2015.
Full draft paper submission: April 1, 2016.