Academic journal article South Asian Studies

A Comparative Analysis of the Functioning of the Senate in USA and Pakistan

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

A Comparative Analysis of the Functioning of the Senate in USA and Pakistan

Article excerpt


Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committees-rooms is Congress at work'

Woodrow Wilson.

'Senate rules are tilted towards not doing things...House rules if you know how to use them are tilted towards allowing the majority to get its will done'.

Speaker Jim Wright

Federalism and bicameralism go hand in hand. There are 63 federal states in the world and not a single of them has defied the principle of bicameralism. Their federal chambers are increasingly becoming the popular chambers. So much so, the trend of bicameralism is increasing even among the unitary states because the concentration of the legislative authority in one chamber may lead to the constitutional autocracy. Therefore, to avoid hasty legislation and in order to have a multiple checks on government the need of second chamber is increasingly recognized. It is imperative for all federal states that their parliaments should provide an adequate representation to the whole nation. That is why the federal states opt for two chambers, one providing for proportional representation and the other providing equal representation to all federating units. So far little effort has been made in the field of comparative politics to compare the functioning of the representative lawmaking institutions of USA and Pakistan to evaluate their performance. This study aims to fill this gap. This is a highly descriptive and analytical study. It is a pioneering effort which seeks to compare the functioning of the Senate of Pakistan, a struggling democracy, with that of the United States, the world's leading democracy, through a case study approach. Several question regarding the functioning of the tow Senates arise. What is the respective place of the Senate in the constitution of the Pakistan and that of the United States? What are their respective constitutional powers and how they affect their functioning? What are the differences in their committee systems and how they perform? Lastly, what are the differences and similarities in the legislative functions of the tow Senates?

The 'how and why' questions, according to Robert K. Yin, a leading authority on case study approach, can best be explored by using case studies as a vehicle of analysis. Such questions are explanatory and can be more appropriately addressed through case studies and histories. (Yin R. K., 2003) Besides the type of questions to be explored the rationale for doing case study research is that 'the investigator has access to a situation previously inaccessible to scientific observation.' A multiple case design is more in tune with comparative politics approach. Yin explaining the difference between single and multiple case designs says that a single case study is the one which comprises a single case, for example, one issue, one event or one situation. This is 'analogous to a single experiment'. However, 'the same study may contain more than a single case. When this occurs, the study has used a multiple-case design, and such designs have increased in frequency in recent years.' (Yin R. K., 2013) The present study employs multiple-case design in the sense that it compares the functioning of two law making institutions i.e the Senate of USA and the Senate of Pakistan. Yin, preferring the multiple-case design writes that they give a 'stronger platform for your findings than if you had relied on only a single case.' (Yin, The Case Study Anthology, 2004) Yin considers both single and multiple case designs as two variants of case study method. However, he argues, that some disciplines such as anthropology and political science have established sharp distinctions and they refer to multiple case designs as 'comparative studies' but in reality it is just a difference of design to be used 'under the case study method'. (Yin, The Case Study Anthology, 2009) The advantage of multiple-case design is that 'the evidence from multiple cases is often considered more compelling, and the overall study is therefore regarded as being more robust. …

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