Majority


Majority

A majority is a subset of a group consisting of more than half of its members. This can be compared to a plurality, which is a subset larger than any other subset; i.e. a plurality is not necessarily a majority as the largest subset may consist of less than half the group's population. In British English, majority and plurality are often used as synonyms, and is often used to refer to the number of votes separating the first-place finisher from the second-place finisher.

A majority may be called a simple majority to contrast with other types of majority: an overall majority, in parliamentary systems, is the difference of legislators between the government and its opposition;[1] an absolute majority is a majority of all electors, not just those who voted;[2][3][4] and a supermajority is a stronger majority than a simple majority.

Contents

Example

Tennessee and its four major cities: Memphis in the south-west; Nashville in the centre, Chattanooga in the south, and Knoxville in the east

Imagine that Tennessee is having an election on the location of its capital. The population of Tennessee is concentrated around its four major cities, which are spread throughout the state. For this example, suppose that the entire electorate lives in these four cities, and that everyone wants to live as near to the capital as possible.

The candidates for the capital are:

  • Memphis, the state's largest city, with 42% of the voters, but located far from the other cities
  • Nashville, with 26% of the voters, near the center of Tennessee
  • Knoxville, with 17% of the voters
  • Chattanooga, with 15% of the voters

The preferences of the voters would be divided like this:

42% of voters
(close to Memphis)
26% of voters
(close to Nashville)
15% of voters
(close to Chattanooga)
17% of voters
(close to Knoxville)
  1. Memphis
  2. Nashville
  3. Chattanooga
  4. Knoxville
  1. Nashville
  2. Chattanooga
  3. Knoxville
  4. Memphis
  1. Chattanooga
  2. Knoxville
  3. Nashville
  4. Memphis
  1. Knoxville
  2. Chattanooga
  3. Nashville
  4. Memphis

Here, Memphis has a plurality (42%) of the first preferences, but not a majority. We can contrast this by looking at the fourth preferences, where the majority of voters (58%) have placed Memphis last. In all single-winner voting systems apart from the simple plurality voting, Memphis will lose as a majority of voters do not want the city as capital.

Parliamentary rules

In parliamentary procedure, the term 'majority' refers to "more than half." As it relates to a vote, a majority is more than half of the votes cast (noting that an abstention is simply the refusal to vote). The definition of "majority vote" can differ, however, from one parliamentary authority to another. Robert's Rules of Order defines a majority as being more than one half of the votes cast including votes for ineligible candidates or choices.[5] The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (abbreviated TSC) defines a majority as being more than half all eligible votes cast.[6]

For example, assume that votes are cast for three people for an office: Alice and Bob, who are eligible; and Carol, who is ineligible.

Candidate Votes
Alice 9
Bob 8
Carol 3
Total 20

By Robert's Rules of Order, no candidate has been elected as no candidate gained 11 votes. However, by The Standard Code, Alice is elected as she gained more than half of the seventeen eligible votes.

In politics, political voting systems, and even in parliamentary procedure in some cases, there are several different popular concepts relating to a majority:

See also

References

  1. ^ "Overall Majority". Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Longmans. http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/overall-majority. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  2. ^ "Definition of absolute majority noun from Cambridge Dictionary Online". http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/absolute-majority. 
  3. ^ "Simple majority". http://en.euabc.com/word/833. 
  4. ^ "With three-cornered contests as common as they now are, we may have occasion to find a convenient single word for what we used to call an absolute majority... In America the word majority itself has that meaning while a poll greater than that of any other candidate, but less than half the votes cast is called a plurality. It might be useful to borrow this distinction..." (Fowler, H.W. 1965 A Dictionary of Modern English Usage)
  5. ^ Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th edition, 2000, pp. 387, 404
  6. ^ The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, 4th edition, 2001, pp. 134, 158-9

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • majority — We are concerned here with three related uses, two of them relatively straightforward and one that gives rise to a difficulty: 1. majority = ‘a superiority in numbers’, especially in political contexts, ‘the amount by which a winning vote exceeds …   Modern English usage

  • majority — ma·jor·i·ty /mə jȯr ə tē/ n pl ties 1 a: legal age b: the status of one who has reached legal age 2 a: a number or quantity greater than half of a total compare plu …   Law dictionary

  • Majority — • The state of a person or thing greater, or superior, in relation to another person or thing Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Majority     Majority      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Majority — Ma*jor i*ty, n.; pl. {Majorities}. [F. majorit[ e]. See {Major}.] 1. The quality or condition of being major or greater; superiority. Specifically: (a) The military rank of a major. (b) The condition of being of full age, or authorized by law to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • majority — majority, plurality are arbitrarily defined in the United States, especially by statute, when they refer to an excess of votes as determining an election. Both imply an excess of votes over the next highest candidate. The distinction between the… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • majority — ► NOUN (pl. majorities) 1) the greater number. 2) Brit. the number by which the votes cast for one party or candidate exceed those for the next. 3) the age when a person is legally considered a full adult, usually 18 or 21. USAGE Strictly… …   English terms dictionary

  • majority — (n.) 1550s, condition of being greater, superiority, from M.Fr. majorité (16c.), from M.L. majoritatem (nom. majoritas) majority, from L. maior greater (see MAJOR (Cf. major) (adj.)). Sense of state of being of full age is attested from 1560s;… …   Etymology dictionary

  • majority — [n1] plurality, most best part*, bulk, greater number, greater part, larger part, lion’s share*, mass, max*, more, more than half*, preponderance, superiority; concepts 766,829,835 Ant. minority, secondary majority [n2] adulthood age of consent,… …   New thesaurus

  • majority — [mə jôr′ə tē, məjär′ə tē] n. pl. majorities [Fr majorité < ML majoritas < L major: see MAJOR] 1. [also with pl. v.] the greater part or larger number; more than half of a total ☆ 2. the number by which the votes cast for the candidate, bill …   English World dictionary

  • majority — ▪ I. majority ma‧jor‧i‧ty 1 [məˈdʒɒrti ǁ məˈdʒɔː , məˈdʒɑː ] noun majorities PLURALFORM 1. [singular] most of the people or things in a particular group: • Some franchisees quit, but the majority are still hanging on. majority of …   Financial and business terms


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.