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Senator For Life

A senator for life is a member of the senate or equivalent upper chamber of a legislature who has life tenure.

, the Italian Senate and the UK House of Lords continue to have lifetime senators. Several South American countries once granted lifetime membership to former presidents but have since abolished the practice.



In Italy, a ''senatore a vita'' is a member of the Italian Senate appointed by the President of the Italian Republic "for outstanding patriotic merits in the social, scientific, artistic or literary field". Former Presidents of the Republic are ''ex officio'' life senators.
A limit of five senators for life, excluding former Presidents, is established by the Italian constitution, though there is a still unresolved debate as to whether each President of the Republic has the right to name five senators for life, or if five is the maximum allowed number of senators for life. Until 1984 this last interpretation was considered correct, but in that year President Pertini applied the second interpretation of the Constitution, and since then no measures have been taken to clarify the situation, made even more important by the key role senators for life had during the second Prodi Government. They have the same powers of elected senators, including the right to vote and be elected to the Presidency of the Senate. In addition, their mandate does not end with the dissolution of a Senate, allowing them to sit in any elected Senate for their whole lifetime.

Every President of the Italian Republic has made at least one appointment of a senator for life, with the exception of Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, and current President Giorgio Napolitano. The president who appointed the highest number of senators for life was Luigi Einaudi, who made eight nominations during his term.

List of Italian life senators

As of 2009, there are seven in office:
*Giulio Andreotti - aged , appointed.
*Carlo Azeglio Ciampi - , former President.
*Emilio Colombo - , appointed.
*Francesco Cossiga - , former President.
*Rita Levi-Montalcini - , appointed.
*Sergio Pininfarina - , appointed.
*Oscar Luigi Scalfaro - , former President.

Former lifetime senators:


In Burundi, former heads of state serve in the Senate for life. At present there are four of these: Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, Pierre Buyoya, and Domitien Ndayizeye.

Former systems


In a manner reminiscent of the British parliament, members of the Canadian Senate were appointed for life. Since the Constitution Act, 1965, however, newly-appointed members face mandatory retirement upon reaching the age of seventy-five. Though they were grandfathered by the legislation, there are no longer any lifetime senators present in the Canadian Senate. Orville Howard Phillips, the last senator for life, resigned his seat in 1999.


In France, during the Third Republic, the Senate was composed of 300 members, 75 of which were ''inamovible'' ("unremovable"). Introduced in 1875, the status was abolished for new senators in 1884, but maintained for those in office. Émile Deshayes de Marcère, the last surviving ''sénateur inamovible'', died in 1918. Overall there had been 116 lifetime senators.

In 2005, the was questioning about the status of formers Presidents of the Republic. According to the constitution of the Fifth Republic, former presidents are ''de jure'' members of the Constitutional Council, which poses a problem of possible partiality. Some members of Parliament and commentators suggested that it should be replaced by a life membership in the Senate. This proposal was however not enacted.


The 1923 Constitution instituted the membership by right (''senator de drept'') in the Senate for:
* the heir to the throne
* Metropolitan bishops and diocesan bishops of the Orthodox and Greek-Catholic churches
* heads of state-recognised religious bodies
* the president of the Romanian Academy
* former presidents of the Council of Ministers
* former ministers with at least six years’ seniority
* former presidents of either legislative chamber who held this function for at least eight ordinary sessions
* former senators and deputies elected to at least ten legislatures, irrespective of their duration
* former presidents of the High Court of Cassation and Justice
* reserve and retired generals
* former presidents of the National Assemblies at Chişinău, Cernăuţi and Alba Iulia, which proclaimed their respective provinces’ union with Romania in 1918 (''see Union of Transylvania with Romania, Union of Bessarabia with Romania'')

The membership by right was maintained under the 1938 Constitution and it was abolished together with the Senate on July 15, 1946, by the Communist Party-dominated government of Petru Groza.

The current constitution of Romania, although it re-established the bicameral parliament in 1991, did not reinstate the office of senator by right.

South America

The constitutions of a number of countries in South America have granted former presidents the right to be senator for life (''senador vitalicio''), possibly recalling the entirely unelected Senate of Bolivarian theory (see Tricameralism#Bolivar's tricameralism). Most of these countries have since excised these provisions as they are increasingly seen as antidemocratic. The Constitution of Paraguay still has such a provision, but former presidents are permitted only to speak and not vote. Probably the most familiar case is that of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet (1998-2002) whose parliamentary immunity protected him from prosecution for human rights violations until the Chilean Supreme Court revoked it in 2000.
* In Venezuela, lifetime Senate seats existed from 1961 to 1999. The former Presidents who held this position were: Rómulo Betancourt (1964-1981), Raúl Leoni (1969-1972), Rafael Caldera (1974-1994, 1999), Carlos Andrés Pérez (1979-1989, 1994-1996), Luis Herrera Campins (1984-1999) and Jaime Lusinchi (1989-1999). The senate was abolished with the 1999 constitution.
* In Peru, the practice was extant from 1979 to 1993. Francisco Morales Bermúdez, Fernando Belaúnde Terry and Alan García Pérez were the only lifetime senators until the abolition of the senate in 1993 and the introduction of a unicameral parliament.
* In Chile, under the 1980 Constitution, two ex-Presidents have become senators-for-life: Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1998-2002) and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (2000-2006). The provision was abolished by constitutional reforms in 2005.


The senators of the Empire of Brazil were appointed for lifetime (1826-1889). The emperor appointed the senator for each constituency from a list of three, indirectly elected, candidates. For details, see Senate of Brazil: History

There were about 250 senators of the Empire of Brazil:

Source: Wikipedia