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Parliaments Around the World

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Australia Old and New Parliament House
Old & New Parliament House, Canberra, ACT (Australia) (Photo by Flickr user Brenden Ashton, Nov. 6, 2005). Used under Creative Commons License 2.0,

The first multinational report to be published on the Law Library’s website in 2016 allows us to consider some fundamental questions underlying the practice of comparative law: who makes the laws, and how are the laws made? The report covers eleven jurisdictions with different legal and constitutional traditions and systems of government.

Japan National Diet
The National Diet Building, Japan (Photo by Flickr user buck82, Aug. 5, 2006). Used under Creative Commons License 2.0,

We have the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, which all have the British monarch as head of state and parliamentary systems of government founded on the traditions of the Westminster model; Japan, which can also be characterized as a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government; Germany, a federal republic with a parliamentary system; France, which is a unitary republic and has what is often described as a “semi-presidential” system of government; Mexico and South Korea, which both have presidential systems, but one is a federal republic and the other is a unitary state; Sweden and Finland, both with parliamentary systems but one being a constitutional monarchy and the other a republic; and China, where there is a unitary system in which the National People’s Congress has a unique constitutional status compared to other legislative bodies around the world.

German Reichstag building
Reichstag building, Berlin, Germany (Photo by Flickr user Bernt Rostad, Mar. 23, 2008). Used under Creative Commons License 2.0,

For each of these countries our legal specialists looked at the constitutional status and role of the national parliament, its location, its structure and composition (including how many houses it has and how many members), some of the key leadership positions within the parliament, how members are elected, and the lawmaking process.

By reading the report you can find the answers to numerous questions, such as how many senators are there in the Australian parliament and how are they elected? What are “Private Members’ Bills” in Westminster-style parliaments? What is the “Standing Committee” of China’s National People’s Congress and what is its constitutional role? When did the Finnish parliament first start holding regular meetings? Can the President of France veto legislation? How many members are there in the German Bundestag? How old does a person have to be to run for election to Japan’s National Diet? How many committees are there in the Chamber of Representatives in Mexico? What are the deadlines for the submission of a budget bill to South Korea’s National Assembly and to Sweden’s parliament? And when will the next election take place for the UK parliament?

If you are interested in any of these countries, or if you are just curious about how laws are made and how elections work in different parts of the world, I’m sure you will find something useful in this report.

Here are the links for each of the countries in the report:

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