Absolute majority

Article

July 5, 2022

In a vote, obtaining an absolute majority requires more than half of the votes cast, which is often summarized by the expression "50% plus one vote", although this is debated.

Definition and Examples

We speak of an absolute majority as opposed to a relative majority. The absolute majority is equal to half of the votes cast plus one if their number is even or, if their number is odd, equal to half the even number immediately above. For instance : if there are 100 votes cast, an absolute majority is obtained from 51 votes cast (100 divided by 2, plus 1); if there are 101 votes cast, an absolute majority is obtained from 51 votes cast (102 divided by 2). In the event that a vote requires a threshold even higher than half of the votes cast, we speak of a qualified majority , for example for a majority of two-thirds or three-fifths of the votes.

The expression "50% + 1"

The expression "50% + 1" is occasionally used in the texts organizing the elections as well as in the media to designate the absolute majority. It then assumes, in the case of an odd total, that the 50% are not rounded up. The definition of the absolute majority by rounding up or down is the subject of a constitutional crisis in 2019 in Guyana. The government of David Granger then had a fragile majority of a single seat in the National Assembly, before the defection of one of its members in favor of the opposition led to the vote of a motion of censure. by 33 votes out of 65. Early legislative elections are then required by the constitution after the vote of such a mention by an absolute majority, but a constitutional controversy quickly ensues. The supporters of the government argue that, the absolute majority being established at 50% + 1, or 32.5 + 1, it is necessary to obtain it to obtain 34 votes, 32.5 rounding up according to them to the higher figure, while the opposition affirms that it is rounded down, and that the motion was therefore voted by an absolute majority. Guyana's High Court of Justice rules the no-confidence motion valid on January 31, but its judgment is overturned on March 22 by the Court of Appeal, seized by the government, which rules in favor of a rounding up and annuls so early voting. The opposition decided in return to appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the highest court in the country and a dozen others in the region. On June 18, the latter renders its decision which validates the motion of censure by an absolute majority rounded down, leading to the holding of elections on March 2, 2020.

Votes cast

The absolute majority is usually determined by the number of votes cast. The votes cast are used to designate valid votes, as opposed to invalid votes and, depending on the country, blank votes. A vote is considered valid if it is carried out according to the electoral code, both from the point of view of the documents to be presented (identity card for example) and the way of voting (for example, the use of the voting booth) or the behavior of the voter in the polling station (no demands in the polling station, for example). Moreover, it will only be counted as valid if the ballot paper also complies with the electoral code (no erasures, inscriptions, graffiti, etc.).

Notes and References

See also

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