A filibuster is a type of parliamentary procedure
Parliamentary procedure
Parliamentary procedure is the body of rules, ethics, and customs governing meetings and other operations of clubs, organizations, legislative bodies, and other deliberative assemblies...

. Specifically, it is the right of an individual to extend debate, allowing a lone member to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a given proposal. It is commonly referred to as talking out a bill, and characterized as a form of obstruction in a legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 or other decision-making body.

The term "filibuster" had been in use for centuries to refer to independent military operators
Filibuster (military)
A filibuster, or freebooter, is someone who engages in an unauthorized military expedition into a foreign country to foment or support a revolution...

. The term was commonly used in the 1840s for American adventurers who sought to seize power in Central America. The term in its legislative sense was first used in 1854 when opponents tried to delay the Kansas-Nebraska Act
Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opening new lands for settlement, and had the effect of repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing settlers in those territories to determine through Popular Sovereignty if they would allow slavery within...

 in the U.S. Congress.

Ancient Rome

One of the first known practitioners of the filibuster was the Roman senator
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 Cato the Younger
Cato the Younger
Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis , commonly known as Cato the Younger to distinguish him from his great-grandfather , was a politician and statesman in the late Roman Republic, and a follower of the Stoic philosophy...

. In debates over legislation he especially opposed, Cato would often obstruct the measure by speaking continuously until nightfall. As the Roman Senate had a rule requiring all business to conclude by dusk, Cato's purposefully long-winded speeches were an effective device to forestall a vote.

Cato attempted to use the filibuster at least twice to frustrate the political objectives of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

. The first incident occurred during the summer of 60 B.C., when Caesar was returning home from his propraetorship
A promagistrate is a person who acts in and with the authority and capacity of a magistrate, but without holding a magisterial office. A legal innovation of the Roman Republic, the promagistracy was invented in order to provide Rome with governors of overseas territories instead of having to elect...

 in Hispania Ulterior
Hispania Ulterior
During the Roman Republic, Hispania Ulterior was a region of Hispania roughly located in Baetica and in the Guadalquivir valley of modern Spain and extending to all of Lusitania and Gallaecia...

. Caesar, by virtue of his military victories over the raiders and bandits in Hispania, had been awarded a triumph
Roman triumph
The Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the military achievement of an army commander who had won great military successes, or originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war. In Republican...

 by the Senate. Having recently turned 40, Caesar had also become eligible to stand for consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

. This posed a dilemma. Roman generals honored with a triumph were not allowed to enter the city prior to the ceremony, but candidates for the consulship were required, by law, to appear in person at the Forum. The date of the election, which had already been set, made it impossible for Caesar to stand unless he crossed the pomerium
The pomerium or pomoerium , was the sacred boundary of the city of Rome. In legal terms, Rome existed only within the pomerium; everything beyond it was simply territory belonging to Rome.-Location and extensions:Tradition maintained that it was the original line ploughed by Romulus around the...

and gave up the right to his triumph. Caesar petitioned the Senate to stand in absentia
In absentia
In absentia is Latin for "in the absence". In legal use, it usually means a trial at which the defendant is not physically present. The phrase is not ordinarily a mere observation, but suggests recognition of violation to a defendant's right to be present in court proceedings in a criminal trial.In...

but Cato employed a filibuster to block the proposal. Faced with a choice between a triumph and the consulship, Caesar chose the consulship and entered the city.

Cato made use of the filibuster again in 59 BC in response to a land reform bill sponsored by Caesar, who was then consul. When it was Cato's time to speak during the debate, he began one of his characteristically long-winded speeches. Caesar, who needed to pass the bill before his co-consul, Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus
Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus
Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus was a politician of the late Roman Republic.Bibulus was the son in law of Marcus Porcius Cato Uticencis. In 59 BC he was elected consul, supported by the optimates, conservative republicans in the Senate and opponents of Julius Caesar's triumvirate...

, took possession of the fasces
Fasces are a bundle of wooden sticks with an axe blade emerging from the center, which is an image that traditionally symbolizes summary power and jurisdiction, and/or "strength through unity"...

at the end of the month, immediately recognized Cato's intent and ordered the lictor
The lictor was a member of a special class of Roman civil servant, with special tasks of attending and guarding magistrates of the Roman Republic and Empire who held imperium, the right and power to command; essentially, a bodyguard...

s to jail him for the rest of the day. The move was unpopular with many senators and Caesar, realizing his mistake, soon ordered Cato's release. The day was wasted without the Senate ever getting to vote on a motion supporting the bill, but Caesar eventually circumvented Cato's opposition by taking the measure to the Tribal Assembly
Tribal Assembly
The Tribal Assembly of the Roman Republic was the democratic assembly of Roman citizens. During the years of the Roman Republic, citizens were organized on the basis of thirty-five Tribes: Four Tribes encompassed citizens inside the city of Rome, while the other thirty-one Tribes encompassed...

, where it passed.


In the Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

, a bill defeated by a filibustering manoeuvre may be said to have been "talked out". The procedures of the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 require that members cover only points germane to the topic under consideration or the debate underway whilst speaking. Example filibusters in the Commons and Lords include:
  • In 1874, Joseph Gillis Biggar started making long speeches in the House of Commons to delay the passage of Irish coercion acts. Charles Stewart Parnell
    Charles Stewart Parnell
    Charles Stewart Parnell was an Irish landowner, nationalist political leader, land reform agitator, and the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party...

    , a young Irish nationalist Member of Parliament
    Member of Parliament
    A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

     (MP), who in 1880 became leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, joined him in this tactic to obstruct the business of the House and force the Liberals and Conservatives to negotiate with him and his party. The tactic was enormously successful, and Parnell and his MPs succeeded in, for a time, forcing Parliament to take the Irish question
    Irish question
    The Irish Question was a phrase used mainly by members of the British ruling classes from the early 19th century until the 1920s. It was used to describe Irish nationalism and the calls for Irish independence....

    of return to self-government seriously.
  • In 1983, Labour MP John Golding
    John Golding (British politician)
    John Golding was a Labour Party politician and Trade Union leader in the United Kingdom.He was educated at Chester Grammar School, Keele University and the London School of Economics...

     talked for over 11 hours during an all-night sitting at the committee stage of the British Telecommunications Bill. However, as this was at a standing committee and not in the Commons chamber, he was also able to take breaks to eat.
  • On July 3, 1998, Labour MP Michael Foster
    Michael John Foster
    Michael John Foster was a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament for Worcester from 1997 until 2010, and was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development....

    's Wild Mammals (Hunting with Dogs) Bill was blocked in parliament by opposition filibustering.
  • In January 2000, filibustering orchestrated by Conservative
    Conservative Party (UK)
    The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

     MPs to oppose the Disqualifications Bill
    Disqualifications Act 2000
    The Disqualifications Act 2000 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It gained Royal Assent on 30 November 2000. The Act extends a privilege to Ireland whereby persons elected to sit in its houses of parliament are eligible, if elected/appointed, to sit in a house of the parliament of...

     led to cancellation of the day's parliamentary business on Prime Minister
    Prime minister
    A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

     Tony Blair
    Tony Blair
    Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

    's 1000th day in office. However, since this business included Prime Minister's Question Time, Conservative Leader William Hague
    William Hague
    William Jefferson Hague is the British Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State. He served as Leader of the Conservative Party from June 1997 to September 2001...

     was deprived of the opportunity of a high-profile confrontation with the Prime Minister.
  • On Friday 20 April 2007, a Private Member's Bill
    Private Member's Bill
    A member of parliament’s legislative motion, called a private member's bill or a member's bill in some parliaments, is a proposed law introduced by a member of a legislature. In most countries with a parliamentary system, most bills are proposed by the government, not by individual members of the...

     aimed at exempting Members of Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act was 'talked out' by a collection of MPs, led by Liberal Democrats Simon Hughes
    Simon Hughes
    Simon Henry Ward Hughes is a British politician and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats. He is Member of Parliament for the constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark. Until 2008 he was President of the Liberal Democrats...

     and Norman Baker who debated for 5 hours, therefore running out of time for the parliamentary day and 'sending the bill to the bottom of the stack.' However, since there were no other Private Member's Bills to debate, it was resurrected the following Monday.
  • In January 2011, Labour peers were attempting to delay the passage of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010
    Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010
    The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 is an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Bill for the Act was introduced to the House of Commons on 22 July 2010 and passed third reading on 2 November by 321 votes to 264...

     until after 16 February, the deadline given by the Electoral Commission
    Electoral Commission (United Kingdom)
    The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. It regulates party and election finance and sets standards for well-run elections...

     to allow the referendum on the Alternative Vote to take place on 5 May. On the eighth day of debate, staff in the House of Lords set up camp beds and refreshments to allow peers to rest, for the first time in eight years.

The all-time Commons record for non-stop speaking, six hours, was set by Henry Brougham in 1828, though this was not a filibuster. The 21st century record was set on December 2, 2005 by Andrew Dismore
Andrew Dismore
Andrew Hartley Dismore is a British Labour Party politician and a Vice-Chair of the Labour Friends of Israel group who was the Member of Parliament for Hendon from 1997 until 2010 when he was beaten by Conservative Party candidate Matthew Offord.-Early life:Dismore was born in Bridlington,...

, Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 MP for Hendon
Hendon (UK Parliament constituency)
Hendon is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election. The current MP, since 2010, is Matthew Offord of the Conservative Party.-History:The constituency was originally...

. Dismore spoke for three hours and 17 minutes to block a Conservative Private Member's Bill, the Criminal Law (Amendment) (Protection of Property) Bill, which he claimed amounted to "vigilante law." Although Dismore is credited with speaking for 197 minutes, he regularly accepted interventions from other MPs who wished to comment on points made in his speech. Taking multiple interventions artificially inflates the duration of a speech, and is seen by many as a tactic to prolong a speech.

Australia and New Zealand

Both houses of the Australian
Government of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a federal constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy. The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 as a result of an agreement among six self-governing British colonies, which became the six states...

 parliament have strictly enforced rules on how long members may speak, so filibusters are generally not possible.

In 2009, several parties in New Zealand staged a filibuster of the Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill in opposition to the government setting up a new Auckland Council
Auckland Council
The Auckland Council is the council for the Auckland Region in New Zealand. It began operating on 1 November 2010, combining the functions of the existing regional council and the region's seven previous city and district councils into one "super council" or "super city" governed by a mayor, 20...

 under urgency and without debate or review by select committee, by proposing thousands of amendments and voting in Māori as each amendment had to be voted on and votes in Māori translated into English. Amendments included renaming the council to "Auckland Katchafire Council" or "Rodney Hide
Rodney Hide
Rodney Hide is a New Zealand politician who was leader of the political party ACT New Zealand from 2004 to 2011. From 2005 to 2011 he represented the electorate of Epsom as its Member of Parliament. Rodney Hide was Minister of Local Government, Associate Minister of Commerce and Minister of...

 Memorial Council" and replacing the phrase powers of a regional council with power and muscle.
These tactics were borrowed from the filibuster undertaken by National and ACT in August 2000 for the Employment Relations Bill.


A dramatic example of filibustering in the House of Commons of Canada took place between Thursday June 23, 2011 and Saturday June 25, 2011. In an attempt to prevent the passing of Bill C-6, which would legislate that striking Canada Post
Canada Post
Canada Post Corporation, known more simply as Canada Post , is the Canadian crown corporation which functions as the country's primary postal operator...

 employees return to work, the New Democratic Party
New Democratic Party
The New Democratic Party , commonly referred to as the NDP, is a federal social-democratic political party in Canada. The interim leader of the NDP is Nycole Turmel who was appointed to the position due to the illness of Jack Layton, who died on August 22, 2011. The provincial wings of the NDP in...

 (NDP) led a filibustering session which lasted for fifty-eight hours. The NDP argued that the current form of the legislation undermines collective bargaining. Specifically, the NDP opposed the salary provisions and the form of binding arbitration outlined in the bill.

Canada - Federal

The House was supposed to break for the summer Thursday June 23, but is still in an extended session thanks to the filibuster. The 103 NDP MPs had been taking it in turn to deliver 20 minute speeches - plus 10 minutes of questions and comments - in order to delay the passing of the bill. MPs are allowed to give such speeches each time a vote takes place, and many votes were needed before the bill could be passed. As the Conservative Party of Canada
Conservative Party of Canada
The Conservative Party of Canada , is a political party in Canada which was formed by the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. It is positioned on the right of the Canadian political spectrum...

 holds a majority in the House, the bill passed. This was the longest filibuster since the 1999 Reform Party of Canada
Reform Party of Canada
The Reform Party of Canada was a Canadian federal political party that existed from 1987 to 2000. It was originally founded as a Western Canada-based protest party, but attempted to expand eastward in the 1990s. It viewed itself as a populist party....

 filibuster, on native treaty issues in British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...


Conservative Member of Parliament
Canadian House of Commons
The House of Commons of Canada is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the Sovereign and the Senate. The House of Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 308 members known as Members of Parliament...

 Tom Lukiwski
Tom Lukiwski
Tom Lukiwski is a Canadian politician. He is the current Conservative Member of Parliament for the Saskatchewan riding of Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre. Born in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, he was a businessman and political administrator....

 is known for his ability to stall Parliamentary Committee
Standing committee (Canada)
In Canada, a standing committee is a permanent committee established by Standing Orders of the House of Commons. It may study matters referred to it by special order or, within its area of responsibility in the Standing Orders, may undertake studies on its own initiative...

 business by filibustering. One such example occurred October 26, 2006, when he spoke for almost 120 minutes to prevent the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development
Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development
The Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development is a standing committee in the Canadian House of Commons.- Membership :Clerk of the Committee: Guyanne L. DesforgesDepartments under the committee's scrutiny:...

 from studying a private member's bill
Private Member's Bill
A member of parliament’s legislative motion, called a private member's bill or a member's bill in some parliaments, is a proposed law introduced by a member of a legislature. In most countries with a parliamentary system, most bills are proposed by the government, not by individual members of the...

 to implement the Kyoto Accord. He also spoke for about 6 hours during the February 5, 2008 and February 7, 2008 at the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
The Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is a standing committee composed of the four political parties of the Government of Canada that is responsible for the procedural and administrative matters relating to the Canadian House of Commons. It has 12 members,...

 meetings to block inquiry into allegations that the Conservative Party spent over the maximum allowable campaign limits during the 2006 election
In and Out scandal
The "In and Out" scandal is an ongoing Canadian political scandal involving allegations of improper election spending on the part of the Conservative Party of Canada during the closely contested 2006 federal election. Parliamentary hearings into the issue led to a deadlocking of various committees,...


Canada - Provincial

Most attempts at stalling legislation are usually just for show and last a relatively short period of time. But in 1997, the opposition parties in Ontario tried to prevent Bill 103 from taking effect, setting in motion one of the longest filibustering sessions Canada had ever seen.

A unique form of filibuster was pioneered by the Ontario New Democratic Party
Ontario New Democratic Party
The Ontario New Democratic Party or , formally known as New Democratic Party of Ontario, is a social democratic political party in Ontario, Canada. It is a provincial section of the federal New Democratic Party. It was formed in October 1961, a few months after the federal party. The ONDP had its...

 in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Legislative Assembly of Ontario
The Legislative Assembly of Ontario , is the legislature of the Canadian province of Ontario, and is the second largest provincial legislature of Canada...

 in April of that year. To protest Progressive Conservative
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario , is a right-of-centre political party in Ontario, Canada. The party was known for many years as "Ontario's natural governing party." It has ruled the province for 80 of the years since Confederation, including an uninterrupted run from 1943 to 1985...

 government legislation that would amalgamate
Amalgamation (politics)
A merger or amalgamation in a political or administrative sense is the combination of two or more political or administrative entities such as municipalities , counties, districts, etc. into a single entity. This term is used when the process occurs within a sovereign entity...

 Metro Toronto into the city of Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, the small New Democratic caucus introduced 11,500 amendment
Bill (proposed law)
A bill is a proposed law under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called an act or a statute....

s to the megacity bill, created on computers with mail merge
Mail merge
Mail merge is a software function which allows to create multiple documents from a single template form and a structured data source.-History:This technique of merging data to create gave rise to the term mail merge....

 functionality. Each amendment would name a street in the proposed city, and provide that public hearings be held into the megacity with residents of the street invited to participate. The Ontario Liberal Party
Ontario Liberal Party
The Ontario Liberal Party is a provincial political party in the province of Ontario, Canada. It has formed the Government of Ontario since the provincial election of 2003. The party is ideologically aligned with the Liberal Party of Canada but the two parties are organizationally independent and...

 also joined the filibuster with a smaller series of amendments; a typical Liberal amendment would give a historical designation to a named street. The NDP then added another series of over 700 amendments, each proposing a different date for the bill to come into force.

The filibuster began on April 2 with the Abbeywood Trail amendment and occupied the legislature day and night, the members alternating in shifts. On April 4, exhausted and often sleepy government members inadvertently let one of the NDP amendments pass, and the handful of residents of Cafon Court in Etobicoke
Etobicoke, Ontario
Etobicoke is a dissolved municipality located within the current city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Comprising the western section of the current city, it had an official population of 338,117 as measured by the 2001 Census and 334,491 people as of the 2006 Census. While it only contains 13% of...

 were granted the right to a public consultation on the bill, although the government subsequently nullified this with an amendment of its own. On April 6, with the alphabetical list of streets barely into the Es, Speaker
Speaker (politics)
The term speaker is a title often given to the presiding officer 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...

 Chris Stockwell
Chris Stockwell
Chris Stockwell is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. He was a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1990 to 2003, and served as a cabinet minister in the governments of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves. Before entering provincial politics, he had been a...

 ruled that there was no need for the 220 words identical in each amendment to be read aloud each time, only the street name. With a vote still needed on each amendment, Zorra Street was not reached until April 8. The NDP amendments were then voted down one by one, eventually using a similar abbreviated process, and the filibuster finally ended on April 11.


A notable filibuster took place in the Northern Ireland House of Commons in 1936 when Tommy Henderson
Tommy Henderson
Thomas Gibson Henderson was an Ulster independent Unionist politician. He served in the House of Commons of Northern Ireland from 1925 to 1953 in vigorous opposition to the Unionist governments on all issues other than the partition of Ireland, and is famous for having at one stage spoken for...

 (Independent Unionist MP for Shankill) spoke for nine and a half hours (ending just before 4 am) on the Appropriation Bill. As this Bill applied government spending to all departments, almost any topic was relevant to the debate, and Henderson used the opportunity to list all of his many criticisms of the Unionist government.

In the Southern Rhodesia
Southern Rhodesia
Southern Rhodesia was the name of the British colony situated north of the Limpopo River and the Union of South Africa. From its independence in 1965 until its extinction in 1980, it was known as Rhodesia...

 Legislative Assembly, the Independent member Dr Ahrn Palley
Ahrn Palley
Dr. Ahrn Palley was an independent politician in Rhodesia who criticized the Smith administration and the Unilateral Declaration of Independence...

 staged a similar all-night filibuster against the Law and Order Maintenance Bill in 1960.

On December 16, 2010 Werner Kogler of the Austrian Green Party held his speech before the budget committee, criticizing the failings of the budget and the governing parties (SPÖ
- Technology :SPO: Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Cloud Computing, Office 365. See Microsoft Online Services-Economics:* Secondary Public Offering, an equity capital market instrument...

 and ÖVP
OVP is a three-letter abbreviation that may refer to:*The Office of the Vice President of the United States*The Office of the Vice President of the Philippines*OVP , a light sub-machine gun developed in Italy...

) in the last years. The filibuster lasted for 12 hours and 42 minutes (starting at 13:18, and speaking until 2:00 in the morning), thus breaking the previous record held by his party-colleague Madeleine Petrovic (10 hours and 35 minutes on March 11 in 1993), after which the standing orders had been changed so speaking time was limited to 20 minutes. However it didn't keep Kogler from holding his speech.

House of Representatives

In the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, the filibuster (the right to unlimited debate) was used until 1842, when a permanent rule limiting the duration of debate was created. The disappearing quorum was a tactic used by the minority until an 1890 rule eliminated it. As the membership of the House grew much larger than the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, the House has acted earlier to control floor debate and the delay and blocking of floor votes.


In the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, rules
Standing Rules of the United States Senate
The Standing Rules of the Senate are the rules of order adopted by the United States Senate that govern its procedure. The Senate's power to establish rules derives from Article One, Section 5 of the United States Constitution: "Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings..."There are...

 permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless "three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn" (usually 60 out of 100 senators) brings debate to a close by invoking cloture
In parliamentary procedure, cloture is a motion or process aimed at bringing debate to a quick end. It is also called closure or, informally, a guillotine. The cloture procedure originated in the French National Assembly, from which the name is taken. Clôture is French for "ending" or "conclusion"...

 under Senate Rule XXII
Standing Rules of the United States Senate, Rule XXII
Rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the United States Senate, established by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, governs the precedence of motions in the Senate.-Motions and pending questions:...

. According to the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 ruling in United States v. Ballin
United States v. Ballin
United States v. Ballin, is a decision issued on February 29, 1892 by the United States Supreme Court, discussing the constitutional definition of "a quorum to do business" in Congress...

(1892), changes to Senate rules could be achieved by a simple majority. Nevertheless, under current Senate rules, a rule change itself could be filibustered, with two-thirds of those senators present and voting (as opposed to the normal three-fifths of those sworn) needing to vote to end debate. Despite this written requirement, the possibility exists that the filibuster could be changed by majority vote, using the so-called nuclear option
Nuclear option
In U.S. politics, the "nuclear option" allows the United States Senate to reinterpret a procedural rule by invoking the argument that the Constitution requires that the will of the majority be effective on specific Senate duties and procedures...

, also sometimes called the constitutional option by proponents. Even if a filibuster attempt is unsuccessful, the process takes floor time. In recent years the majority has preferred to avoid filibusters by moving to other business when a filibuster is threatened and attempts to achieve cloture have failed.


In France, in August 2006, the left-wing opposition submitted 137,449 amendments to the proposed law bringing the share in Gaz de France
Gaz de France
Gaz de France was a French company which produced, transported and sold natural gas around the world, especially in France, its main market. The company was also particularly active in Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other European countries. Through its part-owned Belgian subsidiary SPE...

 owned by the French state from 80% to 34% in order to allow for the merger between Gaz de France and Suez. Normal parliamentary procedure would require 10 years to vote on all the amendments.

The French constitution gives the government two options to defeat such a filibuster. The first one was originally the use of the article 49
Article 49 of the French Constitution
Article 49 of the Constitution of France is part of Title V: "On the relations between the parliament and the government" . It sets out the political responsibility of the French government to the parliament...

 paragraph 3 procedure, according to which the law was adopted except if a majority is reached on a non-confidence motion (reform July 2008 resulted in this power being restricted to budgetary measures only, plus one time each ordinary session - i.e. from october to june - on any bill. Before this reform, article 49, 3 was frequently used, especially when the government had short majority in the Assemblée nationale to support the text but still enough to avoid a non-confidence vote). The second one is the article 44 paragraph 3 through which the government can force a global vote on all amendments it did not approve or submit itself.

In the end, the government did not have to use either of those procedures. As the parliamentary debate started, the left-wing opposition chose to withdraw all the amendments to allow for the vote to proceed. The "filibuster" was aborted because the opposition to the privatisation of Gaz de France appeared to lack support amongst the general population. It also appeared that this privatisation law could be used by the left-wing in the upcoming presidential election of 2007 as a political argument. Indeed, Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

, president of the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire
Union for a Popular Movement
The Union for a Popular Movement is a centre-right political party in France, and one of the two major contemporary political parties in the country along with the center-left Socialist Party...

 (UMP - the right wing ruling party), Interior Minister, former Finance Minister and President, had previously promised that the share owned by the French government in Gaz de France would never go below 70%.

See also

  • Constitution of the Roman Republic
    Constitution of the Roman Republic
    The Constitution of the Roman Republic was a set of guidelines and principles passed down mainly through precedent. The constitution was largely unwritten, uncodified, and constantly evolving...

  • Liberum veto
    Liberum veto
    The liberum veto was a parliamentary device in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It allowed any member of the Sejm to force an immediate end to the current session and nullify any legislation that had already been passed at the session by shouting Nie pozwalam! .From the mid-16th to the late 18th...

  • Mae West hold
  • Obstructionism
    Obstructionism is the practice of deliberately delaying or preventing a process or change, especially in politics.-As workplace aggression:An obstructionist causes problems. Neuman and Baron identify obstructionism as one of the three dimensions that encompass the range of workplace aggression...

  • The 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a 1939 American drama film starring Jean Arthur and James Stewart about one man's effect on American politics. It was directed by Frank Capra and written by Sidney Buchman, based on Lewis R. Foster's unpublished story. Mr...

    notably portrays the use of a filibuster.
  • James Zadroga
    James Zadroga
    James Zadroga was a New York City Police Department officer who died of a respiratory disease that has been attributed to his participation in rescue and recovery operations in the rubble of the World Trade Center following the September 11 attacks...

     Bill to assist 9/11 First Responders filibustered by Senate Republicans
  • Gaming the system
    Gaming the system
    Gaming the system can be defined as "[using] the rules and procedures meant to protect a system in order, instead, to manipulate the system for [a] desired outcome".According to James Rieley, structures in organizations Gaming the system (or bending the rules, playing the system, abusing the...

External links

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