IParl project „Second Chambers in democratic political systems”

Around 40 percent of parliaments around the world are bicameral. Second chambers can be found on every continent, in both parliamentary and presidential systems, in federal and unitary countries alike and also in democratic as well as in autocratic regimes: examples of them include the British House of Lords, the French Senate, the German Bundesrat, the senates in Latin American countries and in the U.S.A. Nevertheless, the question of what they actually provide to the systems they exist in is often asked, sometimes to the point of putting their existence into question. Despite the importance of those debates, second chambers have rarely been the centre of attention in political science research. The IParl aims to contribute to the discussion on this topic by conducting a research project about representation in European second chambers.

The project shall grasp how second chambers do representation in four different aspects: (1) who their members are and how they conceive their representative missions, how representation is (2) expressed in speeches and (3) implemented in policy making, and (4) how the represented perceive their relationship to the members.

The project is currently in its first phase, and focuses on collecting data on second chambers in Europe and their members, be it through socio-demographic information, career or self-perceptions. For this purpose, a questionnaire has been designed and is being circulated to the members of second chambers in France, Germany, Ireland, Poland and Spain. Later, a population survey will follow.

For any further questions or advice, please contact Dr. C. Bloquet and/or Dr. F. Carstensen.

The following papers have been published in the frame of this project dedicated to second chambers. You will find an outline of the project (in German) in the contribution to the federalism yearbook 2022:

Schüttemeyer, Suzanne S. / Sturm, Roland: Was leisten Zweite Kammern für die repräsentative Demokratie?, in: Europäisches Zentrum für Föderalismus-Forschung (ed.): Jahrbuch des Föderalismus 2022, Baden-Baden 2022, i.E.

Carstensen, Franziska: Zweite Kammern in Europa: Wen oder was sollen sie repräsentieren?, IParl-Blickpunkt 6, Berlin 2021. (Link)