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Lawmaking branch of a government. Before the advent of legislatures, the law was dictated by monarchs. Early European legislatures include the English Parliament and the Icelandic Althing (founded c. 930). Legislatures may be unicameral or bicameral (seebicameral system). Their powers may include passing laws, establishing the government's budget, confirming executive appointments, ratifying treaties, investigating the executive branch, impeaching and removing from office members of the executive and judiciary, and redressing constituents' grievances. Members may be appointed or directly or indirectly elected; they may represent an entire population, particular groups, or territorial subdistricts. In presidential systems, the executive and legislative branches are clearly separated; in parliamentary systems, members of the executive branch are chosen from the legislative membership. See alsoBundestag; Congress of the United States; Diet; Duma; European Parliament; Knesset; Canadian Parliament.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on legislature, visit Britannica.com.