Absolute majority – What it is, definition and concept

An absolute majority occurs or exists in a vote when, of all the people with the right to vote, the majority of them vote in the same direction or the same. It is a formula widely used, and sometimes necessary, in elections and in the approval of proposals and parliamentary laws..

In any type of election or vote, to approve a proposal there must be a majority. This can be simple, qualified or absolute. The latter is characterized by being widely used in political voting. It consists in that the favorable votes cast are the majority, plus one of the total votes cast plus the abstentions.

For example, in a vote of 100 people, the absolute majority will be the one that constitutes 51 votes or more. If these 51 votes are favorable, the proposal will be approved.

In the event that the vote includes three or more options, for there to be an absolute majority it is necessary for one of them to obtain more than 50% of the votes.

For example, if out of 100 votes, option A gets 55 votes; the B 40; and C 5, we say that option A has an absolute majority. On the other hand, if A has 40%; B of 35% and C of 25%, we say that A has a simple majority, but not an absolute majority.

It should be noted that many votes have to meet additional requirements. Like the quorum, that is, that a certain number of people who make up the voting body are present in the vote. There are also alternatives in case there is a blockage, such as a second vote, the figure of abstention or a simple majority.

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The absolute majority in politics

The absolute majority, as we have mentioned, is used a lot in politics to make all kinds of decisions. And this must exceed the number of abstentions plus the votes against. For example, if out of 100 parliamentarians there are 40 negative votes, 45 positive votes, but 15 abstentions, the vote will not succeed even if there are more positive votes than negative.

This formula is applied in the following cases:

  • Election of the Prime Minister (parliamentary and semi-presidential regimes).
  • Motion of censure.
  • Declaration of alarm, exception and site states.
  • Approval of organic laws.
  • Election of other figures such as the mayor of a municipality.

Governments with an absolute majority

The absolute majority is especially relevant in this case. It occurs when the government party owns more than half of the seats in Parliament. In these cases, the government party can pass any law it sees fit, why? because the largest number of people with the right to vote are from his party.

On the one hand, it causes a decrease in the quality of democracy. The opposition has no real role in decision-making, it can control the government, deliberate, debate, etc. but it cannot prevent the approval of a law that requires a simple or absolute majority. But on the other hand it improves governability, there are no situations of blockage because the opposition cannot overthrow the decisions of the Executive.

To counteract this situation, the most important decisions are taken by a qualified majority, which requires an even greater consensus.

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This makes sense in parliamentary regimes, due to the close relationship between Legislative and Executive. In presidential regimes, the head of state is the same person who holds the head of government, but has to share power with Parliament.

In Spain, the PSOE enjoyed three legislatures with an absolute majority (1982-1993). And the PP got it in the elections of the year 2000 and in those of 2011.

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