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Cape Parliament
Parliament of the Cape Colony
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Houses 2
Leadership
Regional Council
Chairman Diana Chandler (P)
Common Council
Seats 10 - Regional Council
39 - Common Council
Meeting place
Houses of Parliament, Cape Town
The Cape Parliament is the bicameral national legislature of the Cape Colony. Formerly known as the Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope, the shortened "Cape Parliament" style was adopted when the body was referred to as such in the 1910 Cape Act, which gave the Colony autonomous status within the British Empire.

Parliament was preceded by the unicameral Legislative Council, founded in 1835, which was a nominal body with little substantive authority. When the Imperial Parliament granted the Colony "representative" government in 1853, the body received the right to draft the Colony's first constitution. This document is still largely considered to be of great importance to the Cape Liberal Tradition, as it was the first law to grant nonracial franchise to the inhabitants of the Colony - albeit qualified with reference to property ownership.

The Parliament still remained weak, until 1872, when the Cape was granted "responsible" government (this lasted until 1910), which transferred the bulk of political power from the Imperial Governor to the local Prime Minister, to which ministers and the government would now be responsible. The Governor General lost most of his executive authority with the 1910 Cape Act. Parliament as it exists today too came about as a result of the Act, which restructured the House of Assembly (the lower house) into the Common Council, and the Legislative Council (the upper house) into the Regional Council.

Parliament, while being part of the family of Westminster government, is based in large part on the United States Congress. The Common Council is constituted from electoral districts throughout the Cape, each of which must elect a new Member of Parliament (M.P.) every two years. The Regional Council allocates two seats to each of the Colony's five districts, and holds elections every four years. The Prime Minister, who is chosen by other MPs from the Common Council, has a fixed term of six years (three Common Council terms), and can therefore lose his seat in Parliament whilst keeping his position as Prime Minister. This has happened only once in the Cape's history during Prime Minister Benjamin Clare's term.

While the idea of "sovereign legislature" has been avoided in Cape Colonial discourse, it would seem that the Cape Parliament does in fact hold legislative supremacy in the Cape. The country has no codified constitution, rather, like in the United Kingdom, "constitution" in the Cape refers to many conventions and legal customs - most importantly of which is the Cape Liberal Tradition. One argument against the legislative supremacy of Parliament is that the Cape Colonial Court has the power of judicial review (which has been used sparingly, mostly citing antiquated by valid legislation) over Acts of Parliament which violate this "constitution".

History

Composition

Regional Council (upper house)

The Regional Council (RC) is the upper house of the Cape Parliament, and is responsible for representing the interests of the five districts of the Colony. The Council has primary legislative jurisdiction on financial matters and executive appointments. Referred to as Regional Councilors, its members are chosen once every four years by the electorate of each district. With each district having two Regional Councilors, the entire Council consists of ten members. Half of the members (being one Councilor from each district) are elected two years after the other half, meaning that the two Councilors from each district are chosen at separate dates, like that of the United States Senate.

Regional Council composition
Party Ideology Seats
  Progressive Party (Coalition) Cape liberalism
Free trade
6
  Independent Cape Party (Alliance) Conservatism
Cape nationalism
Protectionism
2
  RF-AZC Africanization
Black nationalism
Populism
2

Common Council (lower house)

The Common Council (CC) is the lower house of the Cape Parliament, and represents the interests of the constituencies of individual members (known as Members of Parliament - M.P.). There are currently 39 constituencies across the Colony, thus 39 Members of Parliament. The Common Council has legislative authority across the board and may introduce any legislation its MPs deem fit. Members of Parliament are elected by way of direct election by their constituents.

Common Council composition
Party Ideology  % Seats
  Progressive Party (Coalition) Cape liberalism
Free trade
00 00
  Cape Party (Coalition) Cape liberalism
Protectionism
00 00
  Independent Cape Party (Alliance) Conservatism
Cape nationalism
Protectionism
00 00
  RF-AZC Africanization
Black nationalism
Populism
00 00
  Freedom Party (Alliance) Classical liberalism
Cape nationalism
Protectionism
00 00

See also

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