The term was used in South Africa to describe the Parliament established under the apartheid regime's new Constitution in 1983. Other instances of tricameral legislatures in history include Simón Bolívar's model state. The word could also describe the French States-General, which had three 'estates'.
The South African tricameral parliament consisted of three race-based chambers:
The creation of the tricameral parliament was controversial on two fronts. On the one hand, many white conservatives disliked the idea of non-whites participating in Parliament at all. The dispute was a factor in the creation of the Conservative Party, a breakaway from the dominant National Party. On the other hand, many coloureds and Asians rejected the system as a sham, saying that the chambers reserved for them were powerless.
The tricameral parliament was not particularly strong. The 1983 constitution significantly weakened the powers of parliament, and abolished the position of Prime Minister. Most authority was transferred to the State President, including the ability to appoint the Cabinet. This was seen by many as an attempt to limit the power of coloureds and Indians — not only were the 'non-white' Houses of Parliament less powerful than the 'white' one, but parliament itself was subordinate to a white President.
Bolivar intended his model government to have a presidential system, and so the tricameral parliament was not expected to govern. Bolivar was explicit that the legislature should not have an active role in administration — it merely made law and supervised other branches of government.
Despite Bolivar's huge influence in South America, no country employs his tricameral parliament. Early attempts to implement the model, such as in Bolivia, were not successful, although the chaos of the period was likely a factor in this outcome.
There are problems with regarding the States-General as a tricameral legislature, however. Firstly, the States-General never had any formal powers to legislate, although at times, it played a major role in the King's legislative activity. Secondly, the division between the three estates was not always maintained — the estates sometime deliberated separately, but at other times, they deliberated as a single body, undermining the idea of tricameralism.
However, a Diocesan Synod is not a tricameral institution. It is a bicameral institution, as it consists of the House of Laity, who are directly elected by the parishes, and the House of Clergy. The Bishop is not a member of either House, even though he is constitutionally a member of Synod.
Tricameral meeting arrangements are a growing trend in labor unions where some members will always be working on one of three shifts. Under such arrangements, each shift will have its own meeting, but the action of one meeting will have to be adopted by the other two.
Sviggum defends one-house system; He, Ventura and others attended a House-Senate committee meeting on unicameralism.(NEWS)
Feb 08, 2000; House Speaker Steve Sviggum said Monday that a one-house Legislature would not hurt rural dwellers or rural interests as some are...