Upper house of the Parliament of
Sevastyan Volkov, Social Democratic
Leader of the
Katyusha Utkina, Social
... Social Democratic (29)
... Ecological (7)
... Socialist (6)
... Conservative (23)
... National (11)
... Liberal (3)
... Democratic (3)
... Christian Democratic (1)
... New Right (3)
Single transferable vote
10 March 2020
By March 2023
Ketchikan, San Carlos Capital Territory
San Carlos Islands
The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of the San Carlos Islands, the lower house being the House of Representatives. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Chapter I of the Constitution of the San Carlos Islands. There are a total of 86 Senators: 12 are elected from each of the seven San Carlos Islands states regardless of population and 2 from each of the single autonomous internal San Carlos Islands territories (the San Carlos Islands Capital Territory). Senators are popularly elected under the single transferable vote system of proportional representation.
Unlike upper houses in other Westminster-style parliamentary systems, the Senate is vested with significant powers, including the capacity to reject all bills, including budget and appropriation bills, initiated by the government in the House of Representatives, making it a distinctive hybrid of British Westminster bicameralism and United States-style bicameralism. As a result of proportional representation, the chamber features a multitude of parties vying for power. The governing party or coalition, which has to maintain the confidence of the lower house, has not held a majority in the Senate since 2009-2012 and usually needs to negotiate with other parties and independents to get legislation passed.
The Commonwealth of the San Carlos Islands Constitution established the Senate as part of the system of dominion government in newly federated San Carlos Islands. From a comparative governmental perspective, the San Carlos Islands Senate exhibits distinctive characteristics. Unlike upper Houses in other Westminster system governments, the Senate is not a vestigial body with limited legislative power. Rather it was intended to play – and does play – an active role in legislation. Rather than being modeled solely after the House of Lords, as the Senate of Canada was, the San Carlos Islands Senate was in part modeled after the United States and Australian Senate, by giving equal representation to each state and equal powers with the lower house. The Constitution intended to give less populous states added voice in a Federal legislature, while also providing for the revising role of an upper house in the Westminster system.
Although the Prime Minister of the San Carlos Islands and Treasurer of the San Carlos Islands, by convention, are members of the House of Representatives, other members of the Cabinet of the San Carlos Islands may come from either house, and the two Houses have almost equal legislative power. As with most upper chambers in bicameral parliaments, the Senate cannot introduce or amend appropriation bills (bills that authorize government expenditure of public revenue) or bills that impose taxation, that role being reserved for the lower house; it can only approve, reject or defer them. That degree of equality between the Senate and House of Representatives reflects the desire of the Constitution's authors to address smaller states' desire for strong powers for the Senate as a way of ensuring that the interests of more populous states as represented in the House of Representatives did not totally dominate the government.
In practice, however, most legislation (except for private member's bills) in the San Carlos Islands Parliament is initiated by the Government, which has control over the lower house. It is then passed to the Senate, which has the opportunity to amend the bill, pass or reject it. In the majority of cases, voting takes place along party lines, although there are occasional conscience votes.
The system for electing senators has changed several times since the San Carlos Act. The original arrangement involved a first-past-the-post and block voting or "winner takes all" system, on a state-by-state basis. This was eventually replaced by preferential block voting. Block voting tended to produce landslide majorities and even "wipe-outs". For instance, from 1970 to 1973 the Conservative Party held all but one of the 86 seats.
In 1982, single transferable vote with proportional representation on a state-by-state basis became the method for electing Senators. This had the effect of limiting the government's ability to control the chamber, and has helped the rise of minor parties in the San Carlos Islands.