Reforming Senates : Upper Legislative Houses in North Atlantic Small Powers 1800-present book cover
1st Edition

Reforming Senates
Upper Legislative Houses in North Atlantic Small Powers 1800-present

ISBN 9780367339685
Published October 17, 2019 by Routledge
286 Pages

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Book Description

This new study of senates in small powers across the North Atlantic shows that the establishment and the reform of these upper legislative houses have followed remarkably parallel trajectories. Senate reforms emerged in the wake of deep political crises within the North Atlantic world and were influenced by the comparatively weak positions of small powers. Reformers responded to crises and constantly looked beyond borders and oceans for inspiration to keep their senates relevant.

The Open Access version of this book, available at, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of contributors


Karel Davids

Reforming Senates in the Post-Revolutionary North-Atlantic World. An Introduction

Nikolaj Bijleveld and Wybren Verstegen

Part I: The Need for a Senate (c. 1790-c. 1870)

Senates and Bicameralism in Revolutionary Europe (c. 1795-1800)

Joris Oddens

The Rise and Fall of the Quasi-bicameral System of Norway (1814-2007)

Eivind Smith

Members of the Senate in the Southern Netherlands (Belgium) between Restoration and Revolution (1815-1831)

Els Witte

A Liberal Senate. The Danish Landsting of 1849

Flemming Juul Christiansen

The Senate of Canada: Renewed Life to an Original Intent

David E. Smith

Part II: Democracy, the people and the senate (c. 1848-c. 1935)

Constitutional Conservatism, Anti-Democratic Ideology, and the Elective Principle in British North America’s Upper Legislative Houses, 1848-1867

Colin Grittner

Aristocratic populism. The Belgian Senate and the Language of Democracy, 1848-1893

Marnix Beyen

Rejecting the Upper Chamber: National Unity, Democratisation and Imperial Rule in the Grand Duchy of Finland, 1860-1906

Onni Pekonen

The Swedish Senate 1867-1970. From Elitist Moderniser to Democratic Subordinate

Torbjörn Nilsson

The Senate and the ‘Social Majority’. Joannes Theodorus Buijs (1826-1893) about a ‘Meritocracy’ in The Netherlands (1848-1887)

Wybren Verstegen

The Irish Senate 1920-1936

John Dorney

Part III: Does a state still need a Senate? (c. 1920-present)

The Vitality of the Dutch Senate. Two Centuries of Reforms and Staying in Power

Bert van den Braak

Marginalising the Upper House. Canada's Liberal Party, the Senate and Democratic Reform in 1920s Canada

Adam Coombs

Vocational Voices or Puppets of the Lower House? Irish Senators, 1938-1948

Martin O’Donoghue

The Rise and Fall of Bicameralism in Sweden 1866-1970

Joakim Nergelius

Unicameralism in Denmark: Abolition of the Senate, Current Functioning and Debates

Asbjørn Skjæveland

Precarious bicameralism? Senates in Ireland from the late Middle Ages to the Present

Muiris MacCarthaigh and Shane Martin

Founding principles, constitutional conventions, and the representation of Francophones living outside of Quebec in the Canadian Senate since 1867

Linda Cardinal


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Nikolaj Bijleveld, historian, is a staff member at the University of Groningen.

Colin Grittner teaches Canadian history in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and has held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of British Columbia and the University of New Brunswick.

David E. Smith is a former president of the Canadian Political Science Association and the author of a number of books on the Canadian Parliament and on Canadian federalism.

Wybren Verstegen is Associate Professor in Economic and Social History at Vrije University, Amsterdam.