IParl project „Second Chambers in democratic political systems”

Second Chambers are often unjustly overlooked, by both the public as well as the scientific community. They are, in most cases, constitutionally part of the national parliament, and thus a central place of legislative production and parliamentary control. Previous research on the topic focused on describing and categorizing second chambers. They were often treated as unique or anomalies, while also being stated as being negligible when it comes to their political power. But if they would be as obviously dispensable as they are made out to be, one might expect that their abolishment should be on agenda everywhere. But as can be seen, this is not the case – quite the contrary, as rejected referenda in Ireland and Italy about the abolishment or reorganization of their respective Second Chambers prove.

Instead of dismissing Second Chambers as useless ornament of parliamentarism, it is time for scholars to take them more seriously and inquire their political as well as their societal importance in parliamentary democracies. Numerous fundamental questions – e.g., about their representation output and accomplishments, possibilities for participation, societal integration possibilities, or about the technical and procedural stabilization of parliamentarism through second chambers – remain unanswered. They shall be subject of an inquiry and analysis through country comparisons conducted by Roland Sturm and Suzanne S. Schüttemeyer at the IParl. Both can draw on many years of cooperation with each other, that started with their common article on the topic: „Suzanne S. Schüttemeyer/Roland Sturm: Wozu Zweite Kammern? Zur Repräsentation und Funktionalität Zweiter Kammern in westlichen Demokratien, in: Zeitschrift für Parlamentsfragen 23. Jg., H. 3, 1992, S. 517-536“.