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Absolute Majority Electoral System | Definition, Features, Merits and Demerits
Absolute majority in any form of geographical representation. It means that a candidate is elected if he secured more than 50% of the total votes cast in an election. To secure an absolute majority the candidate must win at least 50% + 1% (51%) of the total votes.
If, however, this was not obtained by any of the candidates, a Second Ballot is required, and those having unacceptable low result would be eliminated. The winning candidate is then required to obtain a simple majority.
For example, the Liberian Presidential elections held in October 2005, George Weah, former World, European and African Footballer of the year, scored about 29% of the total votes while Mrs. Sirleaf Johnson who came second scored about 21%.
In the run-off election held few weeks later between the two leading candidates, Mrs. Johnson polled about 60% to be elected president. Although, Mrs. Johnson undoubtedly had better academic and professional qualifications to be president, and was more widely acceptable to the international community than WEAH, the latter was however the best candidate in the first ballot.
Features of Absolute Majority
The absolute majority is characterized by the following.
- For a candidate to be declared winner of an election, he must have obtain more than 50 percent of the total votes received by all the candidates.
- Like the plurality system, the absolute majority is based on the single member constituency.
- It is used mainly in a two party system.
- Of the winner doesn’t emerge at the first election, then a second ballot is held to determine the winner.
Advantages of Absolute Majority
The absolute majority system has the following advantages.
- It provides for the election of a candidate with a popular mandate.
- The system allows the people to exercise their right to elect the most suitable candidate who must have secured majority votes.
- The system provides for the election of candidates with the best qualities.
Disadvantages of Absolute Majority
The disadvantages of absolute majority include the following:
- It may be expensive to operate where the candidates have to go for a second ballot.
- Where there is a second ballot, the best candidate may not necessary win as the election may be manipulated by powerful forces to favour a particular candidate.
- The second ballot may be fraught with bribery and corruption.
- Since it may be difficult to obtain an absolute majority at the first ballot in a highly heterogenous society, the elections may be stalemated as it happened in the Madagascar Presidential Elections held in 2011.