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The legislature is a branch of the running of a nation with the power over legislation. The enacting and alteration of laws is the main duty of a legislature, but it may also be required to perform other tasks such as the election of the Head of State, executive or government. Legislatures are usually unicameral (consisting of one parliamentary house) or bicameral (consisting of two parliamentary houses), however on occasion they are tricameral (consisting of three parliamentary houses), as in Colearine.
In most bicameral systems, the Lower House of the most powerful and usually the most democratically elected, whilst the upper house of used to advice and assist on legislative matters. In federal countries it is regular for the Upper house to contains representatives for each area within the country rather than being nationally elected. For example, the Senate of the United States contains two representatives for each member state of the country. Unlike most systems, the British House of Lords (Upper House) is still an appointed body, consisting of life, hereditary and religious peers, most of them serving life terms.
Legislatures can are known by many names. Names such as National Assembly, Congress and Parliament are most common. Likewise, there are many names for the individual Houses of the legislature. Senate is the most common name for an Upper House. Unicameral legislatures and lower Houses tend to have names such as Assembly, House of Representatives of Chamber of Deputies. Names are often related to the country, for example the prefix bundes- (meaning federal) is used in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, whilst the word Majlis is common in Islamic countries.