System of government in which the legislature comprises two houses. It originated in Britain (see Parliament), where eventually it served to represent the interests of both the common people and the elite and to ensure deliberation over legislation. In the U.S. the bicameral system is a compromise between the claims for equal representation among the states (each state is represented by two members of the Senate) and for equal representation among citizens (each member of the House of Representatives represents roughly the same number of people). Each house has powers not held by the other, and measures need the approval of both houses to become law. Many contemporary federal systems of government have bicameral legislatures. All U.S. states except Nebraska have bicameral legislatures. See also Canadian Parliament; Congress of the United States; Diet.
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