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In "legislatures, a hemicycle is a "semicircular, or "horseshoe-shaped, "debating chamber (plenary chamber), where "deputies (members) sit to discuss and pass "legislation. Though composed of "Greek roots, the term is "French in origin.
The circular shape is designed to encourage consensus among "political parties rather than confrontation, such as in the "Palace of Westminster, where the government and opposition parties face each other on opposing sets of benches.["citation needed] The design is used in most European countries (and hence was adopted by the "European Parliament) and the United States.
The "United Kingdom, as the originator of the Westminster system, does not. However, two of the three devolved legislatures, the "Scottish Parliament and "Welsh Assembly, use hemicycles. The "Northern Ireland Assembly does not use a hemicycle format.
In the case of Australia (see below), the two largest parties are still facing each other, whereas in the Scottish Parliament's hemicycle, the largest party sits in the middle. However, some hemicycles follow a strict left-right arrangement with, for example, a left wing governing party sitting on the left and the right wing opposition on the right. In these cases election results are often portrayed in the hemicycle to show the results of left wing or right wing coalitions (reaching 50% in the centre, where centrist third parties are located) for forming a majority.
Some "Westminster system countries outside the UK, such as "India, "New Zealand and "Australia, have confrontational benches, but the end segment is curved to create a partial hemicycle, while other countries, such as the "People's Republic of China, have one set of benches facing towards a stage area (though this reflects the one-party system in operation there).
The "British House of Commons with its Westminster-style benches (old chamber shown)
The "Australian House of Representatives, a form of hybrid
The Chinese "National People's Congress, benches facing a stage
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