A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.[1]

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 larger of the two chambers, i.e. its members are more numerous. A legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.

Common attributes

In comparison with the upper house, lower houses frequently display certain characteristics (though they vary per jurisdiction).

  • 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, as well as vote for or against any proposed candidate for head of government at the beginning of the parliamentary term.
    • 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.
    • Has the sole power to impeach the executive (the upper house then tries the impeachment).
    • Typically initiates appropriation/supply-related legislation.
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 initial control over budget, supply, and monetary laws.
  • Lower age of candidacy than the upper house.

Titles of lower houses

Common names

Australian Parliament. The House of Representatives
Dáil Éireann, Republic of Ireland

Many lower houses are named in the following manner: House/Chamber of Representatives/the People/Commons/Deputies.

Unique names

Government Lower House Unique Name Meaning
Austria Nationalrat National Council
Czech Republic Poslanecká sněmovna Chamber of Deputies
Germany Bundestag Federal Diet
Greece Βουλή των Ελλήνων Council of the Hellenes
India Lok Sabha House of the People
Vidhan Sabha Legislative Assembly
Indonesia Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat People's Representative Council
Ireland Dáil Éireann Assembly of Ireland
Isle of Man House of Keys
Italy Camera dei Deputati Chamber of Deputies
Kazakhstan Mazhilis Assembly
Malaysia Dewan Rakyat People's Hall
Myanmar Pyithu Hluttaw[2] House of Representatives
Netherlands Tweede Kamer Second Chamber
Russia State Duma State Deliberation
Spain Congreso de los Diputados Congress of Deputies

See also


  1. ^ Bicameralism (1997) by George Tsebelis.
  2. ^ "pyithuhluttaw.gov.mm". www.pyithuhluttaw.gov.mm. Retrieved 2016-03-02.