Parliaments around the world

Closer Look – A Short History of Parliament [PDF 3.40Mb, 13 pages]

Many countries around the world were influenced by the British Westminster system of parliament, or were originally English colonies who directly copied the Westminster system for their own parliaments.

Countries influenced by the British Westminster system of parliament


In 1789 the French formed a National Assembly made up of members who represented the French people. In 1791 a second chamber of assembly was established. While there have been many changes to this model through French history, there ultimately emerged a Parliament consisting of the National Assembly and the Senate.


Since 1952 India has had a president and a bicameral parliament, meaning it consists of two chambers. India's houses of parliament are the Lok Sabha (lower house) to which members are directly elected and the Rajya Sabha (upper house) to which members are elected by the legislative assemblies of India's states.


Canada gained its own parliament in 1867, after a history of both French and British colonisation. The British monarch is still the Canadian head of state, represented by a Governor-General. Canada has a bicameral parliament made up of a House of Commons to which members are elected, and a Senate to which members are appointed by the Prime Minister.

New Zealand

From 1854 until 1951 the New Zealand Parliament consisted of a Governor (or Governor-General), an elected House of Representatives and a Legislative Council appointed by the government. In 1951 the Legislative Council was abolished.

United States of America

Since 1789 the United States (US) has been governed by Congress. In the US, the people vote for the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and elect a President through an indirect ballot system. Learn more