A bicameral parliament or legislature is one in which two assemblies share legislative power. Legislatures with two chambers can represent sub-national governments, act as a body of expert scrutiny and review, provide a further democratic check on the power of the lower house, and provide representation for various socio-economic interests or ethno-cultural minorities.

International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Primers are designed to assist in-country constitution-building or constitutional-reform processes by helping citizens, political parties, civil society organizations, public officials and members of constituent assemblies make wise constitutional choices.

They also provide guidance for staff of intergovernmental organizations and other external actors working to provide well informed, context-relevant support to local decision-makers.

Each Primer is written as an introduction for non-specialist readers, and as a convenient aide-memoire for those with prior knowledge of, or experience with, constitution-building. Arranged thematically around the practical choices faced by constitution-builders, the Primers aim to explain complex constitutional issues in a quick and easy way.

This revised and reformatted edition was published in October 2017.


Publication date
02 August 2014
Elliot W. Bulmer
Number of pages
978-91-7671-107-1 (Print)




What is the issue?

Should there be a second chamber?

What type of second chamber?

Design options: composition and structure

Design options: powers

Decision-making questions



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International IDEA Constitution-Building Primer 2
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