The Senate: Chamber of Territorial Representation. Reasons for Its Existence

  • María Marta Cerro


A distinctive feature of federal states is the participation of the member states in the formation of the federal trust so that the existence of a second chamber, called Chamber of the States, in the federal state structure is considered essential; such an institution would ensure territorial structure.

This idea is based on two reasons: historical and systematic. The historical foundation leads to the model of federal states, whose archetype is the United States Senate that intended, when implemented, to establish a “more perfect union” among states. This body was organized on different criteria to those used for classical parliamentary representation, which were based on universal suffrage and proportional democratic representation.

The systematic reasons are related to the institutional construction of modern states, relying, at least ideally, on the parliament as a center of democracy. Based on the results shown in various countries where regional chambers operate, empirical evidence demonstrates the failure of many systems in the implementation of the senate as a chamber representing the interests of territorial sovereignty because they played a weak role in the defense of those territorial interests to the extent that in many states the upsurge of other institutional representation channels functioned far effectively.The truth is that these dysfunctions appear, in some countries, due to structural problems, and in others due to the needs of the dynamics imposed by federal cooperation (or by both, simultaneously). Such cooperation made intergovernmental bodies necessary and appropriate instruments to enforce federal principles. While some of them assimilated representative and cooperative circuits in their operation, others, on the contrary, emerged and gained dynamics just to deal with cooperative aspects and coordination in stricto sensu. The following analysis of the role of the senate will point out the problems encountered in the actual dynamics of these organisms.


Member State Federal State Universal Suffrage Institutional Construction Normative Political Theory 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Law UNT-453San Miguel de TucumánArgentina

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