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Legislature vs. Parliament: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 9, 2023
Legislature is a body that creates laws, while Parliament is a specific type of legislature found in parliamentary systems.

Key Differences

Legislature is a broad term that encompasses any official body in a country or state with the power to create laws. Parliament, on the other hand, is a specific form of a legislature predominantly found in countries with a parliamentary system.
In the context of the Legislature, its members might be elected or appointed, and it may be unicameral (one house) or bicameral (two houses). Parliaments, as specific legislative entities, usually have two houses – an upper and a lower house, though this can vary.
Legislatures are integral to many forms of government, be it a republic, a monarchy, or a federal system. Parliaments are distinctive in their association with the British style of governance and are adopted by countries that have been influenced by the British system.
While all Parliaments are Legislatures, not all Legislatures are Parliaments. The term "Legislature" can be used universally for any law-making body, whereas "Parliament" refers to a specific kind of legislature with certain traditions and structures.
The responsibilities of a Legislature encompass the formulation, alteration, and repeal of laws. In a Parliament, beyond these legislative duties, there's an additional function: it might play a role in the executive branch, particularly in selecting or supporting the head of government.

Comparison Chart


General law-making body
Specific type of legislature


Can be unicameral or bicameral
Typically bicameral

Global Presence

Universal across many systems
Common in British-influenced systems

Relationship with Executive

May or may not influence
Often influences or selects


General term for law-making body
Originated from British system

Legislature and Parliament Definitions


A body with the authority to create laws.
The state's legislature passed the bill unanimously.


An assembly of representatives, usually bicameral, in certain countries.
The Prime Minister addressed the Parliament yesterday.


An institution that debates and enacts laws for a nation or state.
The legislature's decision was met with public protests.


The supreme legislative body in countries like the UK and Canada.
The Parliament passed a resolution in favor of environmental protection.


The branch of government responsible for making statutory laws.
The legislature proposed reforms to the education system.


A body of elected or appointed members that represent the citizenry in parliamentary democracies.
The bill was introduced in Parliament for further discussion.


An assembly or group of individuals who hold the power to legislate.
The legislature meets annually to discuss the budget.


A specific legislative body in a country with a parliamentary system.
The Parliament is in session to discuss the proposed amendments.


An official organized body that has the mandate to craft, modify, or repeal laws.
The new tax reforms were introduced by the legislature.


The primary institution for law-making and governance in certain nations.
The Parliament holds debates on current issues affecting the nation.


An officially elected or otherwise selected body of people vested with the responsibility and power to make laws for a political unit, such as a state or nation.


A representative body having supreme legislative powers within a state or multinational organization.


A governmental body with the power to make, amend and repeal laws.


Parliament The national legislature of the United Kingdom, made up of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.


(Canada) The legislative assembly of a province or territory, as opposed to the federal parliament.


A formal council summoned (especially by a monarch) to discuss important issues.


(Canada) A legislative building.


In many countries, the legislative branch of government, a deliberative assembly or set of assemblies whose elected or appointed members meet to debate the major political issues of the day, make, amend, and repeal laws, authorize the executive branch of government to spend money, and in some cases exercise judicial powers; a legislature.


The body of persons in a state or kingdom invested with power to make and repeal laws; a legislative body.
Without the concurrent consent of all three parts of the legislature, no law is, or can be, made.


A particular assembly of the members of such a legislature, as convened for a specific purpose or period of time (commonly designated with an ordinal number – for example, first parliament or 12th parliament – or a descriptive adjective – for example, Long Parliament, Short Parliament and Rump Parliament).
Following the general election, Jane Doe took her oath of office as a member of the nation's fifth parliament.


Persons who make or amend or repeal laws


A gathering of birds, especially rooks or owls.


(historical) Parliament cake, a type of gingerbread.


A parleying; a discussion; a conference.
But first they held their parliament.


A formal conference on public affairs; a general council;
They made request that it might be lawful for them to summon a parliament of Gauls.


The assembly of the three estates of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, viz., the lords spiritual, lords temporal, and the representatives of the commons, sitting in the House of Lords and the House of Commons, constituting the legislature, when summoned by the royal authority to consult on the affairs of the nation, and to enact and repeal laws.


In France, before the Revolution of 1789, one of the several principal judicial courts.


A legislative assembly in certain countries (e.g., Great Britain)


A card game in which you play your sevens and other cards in sequence in the same suit as their sevens; you win if you are the first to use all your cards


What is a Legislature?

A Legislature is an official body with the power to make, amend, and repeal laws.

Is a Parliament always bicameral?

Mostly, but not always. Some countries have unicameral Parliaments.

How is a Parliament different?

Parliament is a specific form of a legislature, often associated with the British governance system.

Can a Parliament also execute laws?

The primary role of a Parliament is to make laws, but in some systems, it may influence the executive branch.

How does a Legislature relate to the judiciary?

While the Legislature makes the laws, the judiciary interprets them.

Can a Legislature have a single house?

Yes, a Legislature can be unicameral, having just one house.

Is every country's law-making body called Parliament?

No, only certain countries, especially those influenced by the British system, call their law-making body Parliament.

Who makes up a Parliament?

A Parliament is typically composed of elected or appointed representatives.

Do all countries have a Legislature?

Most sovereign countries have some form of Legislature to enact laws.

What's the origin of the word "Parliament"?

It's derived from the French "parler," meaning "to speak."

Who heads a Parliament?

It varies, but often a Speaker heads the lower house and a President or Lord heads the upper house.

How are members of a Parliament chosen?

Typically, members are elected, but methods vary based on country-specific electoral systems.

Can laws proposed in a Parliament get rejected?

Yes, laws can be debated, modified, passed, or rejected in a Parliament.

Where can we find detailed workings of a Legislature?

The workings of a Legislature are usually outlined in the country's constitution or foundational legal documents.

Do Legislatures always function the same way?

No, the functioning and powers of a Legislature vary based on a country's constitution and legal framework.

Are the terms Parliament and Legislature interchangeable?

While all Parliaments are Legislatures, not all Legislatures are Parliaments.

What is a unicameral Legislature?

A unicameral Legislature has only one legislative chamber or house.

Is the U.S. Congress a Parliament?

No, while both are legislative bodies, the U.S. uses the term "Congress" and not "Parliament."

Why is Parliament significant in democracies?

Parliaments represent the people and play a crucial role in law-making and governance.

Do both Legislature and Parliament hold equal powers in all nations?

The powers and roles of both vary based on the constitutional framework of each nation.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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