The House of Representatives of Howland is the lower house of the bicameral National Assembly of Howland. The Senate of Howland is the upper house. The House consists of 54 members, called Representatives, elected to a three-year term, during which it cannot be dissolved. The present House is the 22nd to be convoked since Howland achieved independence in 1949. The 22nd House was elected on June 24, 2012, and sat for the first time during the 127th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly of Howland on August 5, 2012. The next scheduled elections for the House will take place on June 28, 2015, and the 23rd House will convoke at noon on August 5, 2015, during the 131st Ordinary Session.
Five parties are currently represented in the House. The Howland Social Democrats currently form the majority party with 30 seats out of 54. The Independence Party of Howland hold 21 seats and form the official opposition. The Conservative Alliance, the Christian Democratic Party, and the Howland Students' Party each hold a single seat.
Origins and role
The House of Representatives is established by the Constitution of Howland, as part of the bicameral National Assembly of Howland. The House is presided over by the Speaker. The 54 members of the House are elected from single-member electorates (geographic districts, commonly referred to as "seats" by officially known as "Constituencies"). The constitution and subsequent legislation requires all constituencies to have the same number of enrolled voters with a maximum tolerance of 5% variation. Voting is carried out under the instant runoff system, also known as preferential voting. A full allocation of preferences is required for a vote to be counted. This allows for a calculation of the two-party-preferred (TPP) vote.
The number of constituencies is determined by population, with the requirement that the House have as nearly as practicable twice the number of members as the Senate. Every six years, a special non-partisan boundary commission compiles a report consisting of updated constituencies and boundaries for the next six years, which is subsequently voted on by the Assembly as would any other piece of legislation. While the Assembly is not obliged to follow the commission's recommendations, it is customary for it to do so.
According to the Constitution, the power of both houses of the National Assembly are nearly equal, with the consent of both houses needed to pass most legislation. Certain provisions exist, however, which make the House of Representatives the more powerful chamber. Firstly among them is that the Prime Minister is nominated and recalled by the House of Representatives. The Senate can delay the selection of a Prime Minister by 10 days, but has no power to stop the House of Representatives from selecting any Prime Minister it wishes. Secondly, the Senate can only delay a treaty or budget adopted by the House of Representatives by 30 days, after which it is deemed to have passed both houses. Finally, if the Senate refuses to pass into law a bill approved by the House of Representatives, the House can, after 60 days, override the Senate's decision by a two-thirds majority vote in favor.
In practice, the leader of the party (or coalition of parties) with a majority of members in the House of Representatives is chosen as Prime Minister and tasked for form the Government. Thus, some of the other elected members of the governing party in both the House and the Senate become ministers responsible for various portfolios and administer government departments. Bills appropriating money (supply) bills can only be introduced in the House of Representatives, and thus only the party with a majority in the lower house can govern. In the current party system, this ensures that virtually all contentious votes are along party lines, and the Government always has a majority in those votes.
The opposition party's main role in the House of Representatives is to present arguments against the Government's policies and legislation where appropriate, and attempt to hold the Government accountable as much as possible by asking questions of importance during Question Time and during debates on legislation.
Parliamentary debates in Howland are not as rowdy as those in neighboring Australia, and the Speaker rarely must use the disciplinary powers granted to him or her under the Standing Orders.
The House of Representatives originally had 30 members. This has been adjusted upwards four times: to 36 in 1961, to 42 in 1979, to 48 in 1997 and to the current 54 in 2009.
Primary, TPP and seat results since 1949
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