Senate

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A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or chamber of a legislature or parliament. There have been many such bodies in history, since senate means the assembly of the eldest and wiser members of the society and ruling class. Two of the first official senates were the Spartan Gerousia (Γερουσία) and the Roman Senate.

Many countries currently 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.

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Overview

The modern word senate is derived from the Latin word senātus (senate), which comes from senex, "old man".[1] 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 simple social organization in which 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. The original senate was the Roman Senate, which lasted until 580 (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 systems 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 states senates also exist at the subnational level. In the United States all states with the arguable exception of Nebraska (whose legislature is a unicameral body called the "Legislature" but whose members refer to themselves as "senators") have a state senate. In Australia all states other than Queensland have an upper house known as a legislative council. Several Canadian provinces also once had legislative councils, but these have all been abolished, the last being Quebec's Legislative Council, in 1968. In Germany, all States are now unicameral, with the last upper house (Bavaria) being abolished in 1999.

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