Speaker (politics)

Speaker (politics)

The term speaker is a title often given to the presiding officer (chair) of a deliberative assembly, especially a legislative body. The speaker's official role is to moderate debate, make rulings on procedure, announce the results of votes, and the like. The speaker decides who may speak and has the powers to discipline members who break the procedures of the house. The speaker often also represents the body in person, as the voice of the body in ceremonial and some other situations. The title was first recorded in 1377 to describe the role of Thomas de Hungerford in the Parliament of England. By convention, Speakers are normally addressed in Parliament as Mister Speaker, if a man, or Madam Speaker, if a woman. In most other cultures other styles are used, mainly language equivalents of English "chairman" or "president". In Canadian French, the Speaker of the House of Commons or of a legislature is referred to as Président.

Many bodies also have a speaker pro tempore or deputy speaker, designated to fill in when the speaker is not available.


United Kingdom and other "Westminster system" countries

In Westminster-style chambers, the speaker does not have a deliberative vote, but only a tiebreaker. In some countries such as the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, this has developed into a convention of scrupulous political neutrality and the speaker resigns from his party, votes only by convention to ensure the government does not fall, and is either not challenged (in the UK) or automatically deemed elected if re-election is sought (in Ireland). Despite these conventions, the speaker is usually elected from among the members of the assembly by the members, and whips are not allowed to be among the selection. In the United Kingdom, a speaker is normally chosen from one of the two largest parties.

These conventions do not apply in all countries. In Canada, major parties routinely field candidates against a speaker seeking re-election. In Australia, the speakership is a partisan position and the politically neutral position of the UK has been criticised by the Clerk of the Senate as potentially disenfranchising voters in the Speaker's seat.[1]

Upper Houses in Westminster style Parliaments often have a presiding office which works differently, following the different conventions that apply in the British House of Lords. The officer may still be titled Speaker, as (since 2006) in the House of Commons, or use a different title, such as "President" as in the Australian Senate.

United States

In the United States, in the House of Representatives, and in state legislatures and local government councils, the speaker is usually selected by the members of the majority party and functions as a leader of that party. Thus, though speakers are supposed to be fair, they use procedural rulings to advance the agenda of their own party. Ceremonially, the speaker represents the whole house, but politically is the legislative voice of the party in power.

There is one prominent case of a speaker who is not presiding officer. The New York City Council, the unicameral legislative body for New York City, has as its presiding officer the Public Advocate, a position formerly known as City Council President, who is elected by all the voters of the city. As the public advocate's role has changed with several city charter revisions, a post of Council Speaker was created. The speaker is, effectively, majority leader of the council.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is second in the presidential line of succession, becoming President of the United States if the president and Vice President are unable to serve. Some scholars, however, have argued that this provision of the succession statute is unconstitutional.[2]

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives is currently John Boehner.

The Constitution does not require that the Speaker be an elected Member of Congress. No non-member has ever been elected Speaker.

According the Constitution, the Senate is presided over by the Vice President of the United States as ex officio President of the Senate. In practice, this role is delegated to a Senator elected as President pro tempore, who normally further delegates to a deputy.

Similar posts

The presiding officer for an upper house of a bicameral legislature usually has a different title, although substantially the same duties.

When the upper house is called a senate, the equivalent title is often President of the Senate. Australia, Chile, the United States and many other countries have upper houses with presiding officers titled "president". In several American republics, the vice president of the country serves as the president of the upper house.

This pattern is not universal, however. Some upper houses, including those of Canada and several U.S. states (including Tennessee), have a speaker.

In the United Kingdom, the presiding officer of the House of Lords was until recently the Lord Chancellor, who was also a member of the government (a cabinet member) and the head of the judicial branch. The Lord Chancellor did not have the same authority to discipline members of the Lords that the speaker of the Commons has in that house. (On 4 July 2006 the office was reformed, and the Baroness Hayman took the woolsack as the first Lord Speaker.) (The office of Lord Chancellor remains, though with a modified role and duties.)

The Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and Presiding Officer of the Northern Ireland Assembly which fulfil the same role as the speaker.

List of current Speakers

Country Legislature (or legislative chamber) Title Incumbent
Armenia National Assembly of Armenia Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan
Australia Australian House of Representatives Speaker Harry Jenkins
Bangladesh Bangladesh Jatiyo Sangshad Speaker Abdul Hamid
Botswana National Assembly of Botswana Speaker Margaret Nasha
Bulgaria National Assembly of Bulgaria Chairperson Tsetska Tsacheva
Canada House of Commons of Canada Speaker (Président) Andrew Scheer
 »Alberta Legislative Assembly of Alberta Speaker Ken Kowalski
 »British Columbia Legislative Assembly of British Columbia Speaker Bill Barisoff
 »Manitoba Legislative Assembly of Manitoba Speaker George Hickes
 »New Brunswick Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick Speaker Roy Boudreau
 »Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador Speaker Roger Fitzgerald
 »Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly of Northwest Territories Speaker Paul Delorey
 »Nova Scotia Nova Scotia House of Assembly Speaker Gordie Gosse
 »Nunavut Legislative Assembly of Nunavut Speaker James Arreak
 »Ontario Legislative Assembly of Ontario Speaker Steve Peters
 »Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island Speaker Kathleen M. Casey
 »Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan Speaker Don Toth
 »Quebec Quebec National Assembly President Jacques Chagnon
 »Yukon Yukon Legislative Assembly Speaker Ted Staffen
China National People's Congress Chairman of the Standing Committee Wu Bangguo
 »Hong Kong Legislative Council of Hong Kong President Tsang Yok Sing
 »Macau Legislative Assembly of Macau President Susana Chou
Croatia Croatian Parliament (Sabor) President Luka Bebić
Denmark Parliament of Denmark (Folketinget) Speaker Thor Pedersen
Egypt People's Assembly Speaker Vacant
Estonia Riigikogu Speaker Ene Ergma
Finland Parliament of Finland (eduskunta/riksdagen) Speaker Eero Heinäluoma
France National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) President Bernard Accoyer
Ghana Parliament of Ghana Speaker Mrs. Justice Joyce Adeline Bamford-Addo
Germany Bundestag President Norbert Lammert
Greece Vouli Speaker Philippos Petsalnikos
Hungary National Assembly of Hungary (Magyar Köztársaság Országgyűlése) Speaker László Kövér
India Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar
Indonesia People's Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat) Speaker Marzuki Alie
Ireland Dáil Éireann Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett
Iran Majlis of Iran Speaker Ali Larijani
Israel Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin
Kenya Parliament of Kenya Speaker Kenneth Marende
Kosovo Assembly of Kosovo Chairman Jakup Krasniqi
Latvia Saeima Speaker Solvita Āboltiņa
Lebanon Parliament of Lebanon Speaker Nabih Berri
Liechtenstein Landtag of Liechtenstein Speaker Arthur Brunhart
Lithuania Seimas Speaker Irena Degutienė
Macedonia Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia Speaker Trajko Veljanovski
Malaysia House of Representatives of Malaysia (Dewan Rakyat) Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia
Malta House of Representatives of Malta Speaker Michael Frendo
Mexico Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) President Ruth Zavaleta Salgado
Moldova Parliament President Marian Lupu
Montenegro Assembly of Montenegro President Ranko Krivokapić
Netherlands House of Representatives of the Netherlands President Gerdi Verbeet
New Zealand House of Representatives Speaker Dr Lockwood Smith
Nigeria National Assembly of Nigeria Speaker acting Aminu Tambuwal
Pakistan National Assembly of Pakistan Speaker Dr. Fahmida Mirza
Philippines House of Representatives of the Philippines Speaker Feliciano Belmonte
Poland Sejm of the Republic of Poland Marshal Grzegorz Schetyna
Portugal Assembly of the Republic President Maria da Assunção Esteves
Romania Chamber of Deputies of Romania President Roberta Anastase
Russia State Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov
Serbia National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia President Slavica Đukić Dejanović
Singapore Parliament of Singapore Speaker Michael Palmer
Solomon Islands National Parliament of Solomon Islands Speaker Sir Peter Kenilorea
South Africa National Assembly of South Africa Speaker Max Sisulu
South Korea National Assembly of South Korea Speaker Park Hee-tae
South Sudan National Legislative Assembly of South Sudan Speaker James Wani Igga
Spain Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados) President José Bono
Sri Lanka Parliament of Sri Lanka Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa
Suriname National Assembly of Suriname (De Nationale Assemblee) Chairman Jennifer Simons
Sweden Parliament of Sweden (Riksdag) Speaker Per Westerberg
Taiwan Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng
Thailand House of Representatives of Thailand President Somsak Kiatsuranont
Ukraine Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn
United Kingdom House of Commons of the United Kingdom Speaker John Bercow
 » Isle of Man House of Keys Speaker Steve Rodan
 » Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker William Hay
 » Scotland Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick
 » Wales National Assembly for Wales Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler
United States United States House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner
Uruguay Chamber of Deputies of Uruguay President Ivonne Passada
Vanuatu Parliament of Vanuatu Speaker George Andre Wells[3]
Vietnam National Assembly of Vietnam Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung
Zimbabwe House of Assembly of Zimbabwe Speaker Lovemore Moyo

See also

  • President of Congress (disambiguation)
  • President of the Legislative Assembly (disambiguation)
  • President of the National Assembly (disambiguation)
  • President of the Senate
  • Speaker of the House
  • Speaker of the House of Assembly (disambiguation)
  • Speaker of the House of Commons (disambiguation)
  • Speaker of the House of Representatives (disambiguation)
  • Speaker of the Legislative Assembly (disambiguation)
  • Speaker of the National Assembly (disambiguation)
  • Speaker of the Senate



  1. ^ The Australian. (2010-08-31). Independent speaker not fair on voters, warns Clerk of Senate. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
  2. ^ See Akhil Reed Amar & Vikram Amar, Is The Presidential Succession Law Constitutional?, 48 Stan. L. Rev. 113 (1995). This issue is discussed in the entry on the United States Presidential Line of Succession
  3. ^ "01 September confirmed as date for Vanuatu Presidential Election". Islands Business. 2009-09-02. http://www.islandsbusiness.com/news/index_dynamic/containerNameToReplace=MiddleMiddle/focusModuleID=130/focusContentID=16428/tableName=mediaRelease/overideSkinName=newsArticle-full.tpl. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 

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