A double majority is the name given to a vote which requires a majority of votes according to two separate criteria. The mechanism is usually used to require strong support for any measure considered to be of great importance.
Examples of double majority
In the United States
Double majority is used in the United States for some votes on issues such as a tax levy or bond. This vote requires both a plurality of votes cast, and a majority of registered voters to cast votes in the election. This mechanism is used to prevent a small group from passing spending measures which affect the entire population in order to support their pet causes, especially at an election expected to have low voter turnout. Double majorities are also frequently used in municipal annexations, wherein majorities of both the residents in the annexing territory and the territory to be annexed must support the annexation.
In Australia, constitutional changes must be passed at a referendum in a majority of states (4 of the 6), and by a majority of voters nationally. Prior to 1977, the votes of citizens in the Northern Territory and the ACT did not affect the national or state-based count. After a Constitution Alteration put to referendum in 1977 and given vice-regal assent on 19 July 1977, Territorial votes contribute towards the national majority, but the Territories themselves do not count towards the majority of states. Note that the territories have very small populations.
In the European Union
In the European Union, double majority voting is a form of Qualified Majority Voting which is proposed in the Draft Treaty establishing a constitution for Europe. According to this proposal, any decision taken under this scheme will require the support of at least 55% of the Council of the European Union members who must also represent at least 65% of the EU's citizens. The Draft Treaty failed to achieve ratification from France and the Netherlands, and so it is unclear when or if it will come into effect.
In Switzerland, the passing of a constitutional amendment by initiative requires a double majority; not only must a majority of people vote for the amendment but also a majority of cantons must also give their consent. This is to prevent a larger canton from foisting amendments onto the smaller ones and visa versa.
- This entry is related to, but not included in the elections and voting series. Other related articles can be found at the .
- Butterworths Concise Australian Legal Dictionary, 2nd edition (2002). ISBN 0-409-31568-0
- Europa Glossary