Because only a few bicameral parliaments have been studied with any care, it is not easy to distinguish strong and weak upper houses across the board. Nevertheless, it is possible to characterise broadly the relative power dispersion between the two houses of parliament, at least in the light of the constitutional assignment of powers and functions to the lower and upper houses. We have determined to array upper houses on a continuum from 'symmetric' (where the two houses are coequal, exercising the same powers and functions), on one end of the continuum, to 'asymmetric'

bicameralism'.6 The legislative powers of the Swiss Standerat are exactly the same as those of the lower house, and both houses play the same role in the selection of the federal council, whose chairman serves as president of the confederation (a post that circulates annually among the seven federal council members).