_in_the_[[Roman_Forum_.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Roman_Forum.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Curia Julia in the [[Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the [[Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Curia Julia in the [[Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the [[Roman Forum
A senate is a [[deliberative assembly]], often the [[upper house]] or [[Debating chamber|chamber]] of a [[bicameral]] [[legislature]]. The name comes from the [[Ancient Rome|ancient]] [[Roman Senate]] (Latin: ''Senatus''), so-called as an assembly of the senior (Latin: ''senex'' meaning "the elder" or "old man") and therefore considered wiser and more experienced members of the society
or ruling class
Many countries have an assembly named a ''senate'', composed of ''senators'' who may be elected
, appointed, have inherited
the title, or gained membership by other methods, depending on the country. Modern senates typically serve to provide a chamber of "sober second thought" to consider legislation
passed by a lower house
, whose members are usually elected. Most senates have asymmetrical duties and powers compared with their respective lower house meaning they have special duties, for example to fill important political positions or to pass special laws. Conversely many senates have limited powers in changing or stopping bills under consideration and efforts to stall or veto a bill may be bypassed by the lower house or another branch of government.
The modern word ''Senate'' is derived from the Latin
word ''senātus'' (senate), which comes from ''senex'', 'old man'. The members or legislators of a senate are called senators. The Latin word ''senator'' was adopted into English with no change in spelling. Its meaning is derived from a very ancient form of social organization, in which advisory or decision-making powers are reserved for the eldest men. For the same reason, the word ''senate'' is correctly used when referring to any powerful authority characteristically composed by the eldest members of a community, as a deliberative body of a faculty in an institution of higher learning is often called a senate. This form adaptation was used to show the power of those in body and for the decision-making process to be thorough, which could take a long period of time. The original senate was the Roman Senate
, which lasted until at least AD 603, although various efforts to revive it were made in Medieval Rome. In the Eastern Roman Empire
, the Byzantine Senate
continued until the Fourth Crusade
, circa 1202–1204.
Modern democratic states with bicameral parliamentary system
s are sometimes equipped with a senate, often distinguished from an ordinary parallel lower house
, known variously as the "House of Representatives
", "House of Commons
", "Chamber of Deputies
", "National Assembly
", "Legislative Assembly
", or "House of Assembly
", by electoral rules. This may include minimum age required for voters and candidates, proportional or majoritarian
or plurality system
, and an electoral basis or ''collegium''. Typically, the senate is referred to as the upper house and has a smaller membership than the lower house. In some federal state
s senates also exist at the subnational level. In the United States
, every state has a senate, with the exception of Nebraska
(whose legislature is a unicameral body called the "Legislature" but whose members refer to themselves as "senators"). There is also the US Senate
at the federal level. Similarly in Argentina
, in addition to the Senate
at federal level, eight of the country's provinces
, Buenos Aires
, Entre Ríos
, San Luis
(since 1987) and Santa Fe
, have bicameral legislatures with a Senate. Córdoba
changed to unicameral
systems in 2001 and 2003 respectively.
, only the upper house of the federal parliament is known as the Senate. All Australian states
other than Queensland
have an upper house known as a Legislative council
. Several Canadian provinces also once had a Legislative Council, but these have all been abolished, the last being Quebec
's Legislative council
, the last Senate of a State
parliament, the Senate
, was abolished in 1999.
Senate membership can be determined either through elections or appointments. For example, elections are held every three years for half the membership of the Senate of the Philippines
, the term of a senator being six years. In contrast, members of the Canadian Senate
are appointed by the Governor General
upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Canada
, holding the office until they resign, are removed, or retire at the mandatory age of 75.
The terms ''senate'' and ''senator'', however, do not necessarily refer to a second chamber of a legislature:
*The Senate of Finland
was, until 1918, the executive branch and the supreme court.
*The Senate of Latvia
) fulfilled a similar judicial function during the interbellum (1918-1940).
*In German politics:
In the ''Bundesländer
'' (Federated States) of Germany which form a City State
(in German: ''Stadtstaat''), i.e. Berlin
(Senate of Berlin
(Senate of Bremen
) and Hamburg
(Senate of Hamburg
), the senates (''Senat
'' in German
) are the executive branch, with senators (''Senator'') being the holders of ministerial portfolios.
[See Senate of Berlin, Senate of Bremen and Senate of Hamburg.]
In a number of cities which were former members of the ''Hanse
'' (a medieval confederacy of port cities mainly at the shores of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea), such as Greifswald
, or Wismar
, the city government is also called a Senate.
However, in Bavaria
, the Senate was a second legislative chamber until its abolition in 1999.
*In German jurisdiction:
The term Senat (senate) in higher courts of appeal
refers to the "bench
" in its broader metonymy
meaning, describing members of the judiciary
collectively (usually five judge
s), often occupied with a particular subject-matter jurisdiction
. However, the judges are not called "senators". The German term ''Strafsenat'' (literally "Penal Senate") in a German court translates to ''Bench of penal-law jurisdiction
'' and ''Zivilsenat'' (literally "Civil Senate") to ''Bench of private-law jurisdiction
''. The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
consists of two senates of eight judges each. In its case the division is mostly of an organizational nature, as a matter of dividing the work load; both senates handle the same kind of constitutional cases. At some points in the past, one senate was considered more conservative and the other more liberal, but that is not the case as of 2011.
, judges of the High Court of Justiciary
are called Senators of the College of Justice
*In some, mostly federal countries with a unicameral legislature, some of the legislators are elected differently from the others and are called senators. In federal countries, such senators represent the territories, while the other members represent the people at large (this device is used to allow a federal representation without having to establish a bicameral legislature); this is the case with St. Kitts and Nevis
. In other, non-federal countries, the use of the term ''senator'' marks some other difference between such members and the rest of the legislators (such as the method of selection); this is the case with the States of Jersey
's House of Assembly
and the Saint Vincent House of Assembly
, the Welsh Parliament
debating chamber is called the Senedd
, pronounced 'Seneth', there being no other word in the Welsh language for "Parliament"
*An academic senate
is the governing body of some universities.
during the early stages of the Greek War of Independence
, various local legislative and executive bodies were established by the Greek rebels. Two of them were styled "senate": the Peloponnesian Senate
and the Senate of Western Continental Greece
National senates in other parts of the world
Defunct and unestablished senates
*Senator for life
Livius.org: Roman SenateEncyclopedia Britannica on Senate