Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide, the lower house has come to wield more power. A legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.
In comparison with the upper house, lower houses frequently display certain characteristics.
- In a parliamentary system, the lower house:
- In the modern era, has much more power, usually based on restrictions against the upper house.
- Able to override the upper house in some ways.
- Can vote a motion of no confidence against the government.
- Exceptions are Australia, where the Senate has considerable power approximate to that of the House of Representatives, and Italy, where the Senate has exactly the same powers as the Chamber of Deputies.
- In a presidential system, the lower house:
- Debatably, somewhat less the lower house also has exclusive powers in some areas.
- Given the sole power to impeach the executive (the upper house then tries the impeachment).
- Frequently, bills to raise revenue and to appropriate funds must originate in the lower house.
- Status of lower house
- Always elected directly, while the upper house may be elected directly, indirectly, or not elected at all.
- Its members may be elected with a different voting system to the upper house.
- Most populated administrative divisions are better represented than in the upper house; representation is usually proportional to population.
- Elected more frequently.
- Elected all at once, not by staggered terms.
- In a parliamentary system, can be dissolved by the executive.
- More members.
- Has total or original control over budget and monetary laws.
- Lower age of candidacy than the upper house.
Titles of lower houses
Many lower houses are named in the following manner: House/Chamber of Representatives/the People/Commons/Deputies.
- Chamber of Deputies
- Chamber of Representatives
- House of Assembly
- House of Representatives
- House of Commons
- House of Delegates
- Legislative Assembly
- National Assembly
- Camera dei Deputati Chamber of Deputies (Italy)
- Lok Sabha House of the People (India)
- Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat People's Representative Council (Indonesia)
- Dáil Éireann Assembly of Ireland (Ireland)
- Dewan Rakyat People's Hall (Malaysia)
- Congreso de los Diputados Congress of Deputies (Spain)
- Mazhilis Assembly (Kazakhstan)
- House of Keys (Isle of Man)
- Sejm (Republic of Poland) (not to be confused with the Great Sejm)
- State Duma (Russia)
- Tweede Kamer Second Chamber (Netherlands)
- Bundestag Federal Diet (Germany)
- Pyithu Hluttaw House of Representatives (Myanmar)
- Βουλή των Ελλήνων Council of the Hellenes (Greece)