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The Volksraad of Orange-Transvaal (also known as the Free States Volksraad or simply the Volksraad) is the federal legislature of the Free States, and was established by the Constitution of 1911, succeeding the Union Volksraad. "Volksraad" is Afrikaans for "People's Council", and was also the name of the former legislatures of the South African Republic and Orange Free State. It is a bicameral body consisting of the Senate and the Assembly, as its upper and lower house respectively. The Volksraad is presided over by the Chairman of the Volksraad who is popularly elected by the Assembly. The Chairman presides over both Assembly and Senate sessions, which may not be held concurrently.

The Senate represents states' interests on the federal level, and currently consists of only six senators (three from Orange and Transvaal each). One senator is appointed by the Governor of each state, one is elected by the electorate of each state, and the final senator is appointed by the State President. The capital territory is not represented in the Senate. Traditionally, as an upper house, but not officially, the Senate is considered to be mainly a check on the lower Assembly. Any legislation passed by the Assembly must be accepted by a majority of the Senate (ties to be broken by the Chairman). If they are not, the legislation can return to the Assembly and must undergo another round of discussion - but if passed again, need not return to the Senate.

Assemblymen are elected directly from electoral constituencies spread across the country and represent the interests of such constituents. Constituencies are demarcated by the bipartisan Federal Electoral Commission, which consists of five commissioners chosen by the leadership of the two largest parties in the Assembly (regardless of the amount of seats they control). Orange currently has 15 constituencies, and Transvaal has 70. The federal capital territory, Vereeniging, is represented by 3 assemblymen elected from its three electoral divisions. The Assembly therefore has 148 seats. The Assembly is the more powerful house of the Volksraad.

See also

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