Difference Between Plurality and Majority

Plurality vs Majority
 

The difference between plurality and majority is to do with the amount of votes a candidate gets. Plurality and majority are concepts that are used in elections, to decide a winner. Majority is a simple concept to understand, but plurality is what confuses many. However, both go hand in hand in democracies where candidates are elected in elections based on the plurality of votes, while parties remain in power as long as they enjoy the support of the majority of the legislature. If you find it hard to differentiate between majority and plurality, read on; this article clears the doubts surrounding the two concepts.

What is Majority?

A majority means getting more than half of the votes. In other words, a majority is getting more than 50% of the votes in an election. If there are two candidates fighting an election for the post of the captain of a class with a total of 100 students, it is obvious that 100 votes will be divided between the two of them and the candidate with a higher number of votes will be the winner. Here, the majority is described as being higher than half the number of votes. In this case, this number is 100/2 = 50, and the candidate getting more than 50 votes is obviously the one who has the majority. Therefore, if one of them gets 51, and the other gets 49, the student getting 51 is declared as the winner, and he is the one who gets the majority of the votes.

However, it all depends on the voting system accepted by the country or the organization. Now, think there is an organization that accepts majority votes, and there are two candidates contesting in an election. However, none of them get more than half of the votes. So, no one wins. They will have to go for another voting then. Sometimes, in Presidential elections too, the majority is an absolute necessity to declare the winner. However, in such a situation, the procedure that takes place can be more complicated as we are talking about a whole country. For example, in countries such as France, Austria, Brazil, etc. they have something called a two-round system. In the election, think that there are several candidates but none of them get more than 50% votes. At such a situation, the country calls for a second round of elections. In this round, all the candidates except the two candidates with most votes are eliminated. So, in this round, one getting more than half of the votes is guaranteed as there are only two candidates.

Difference Between Plurality and Majority

There are different types of majorities such as simple majority, absolute majority and overall majority. Simple majority is when there are more than two candidates and one candidate has more than the minimum required to win but that votes are not more than half of the whole number of votes. Absolute majority is when the votes are more than 50% of all the registered voters, not just those who voted. Overall majority is when a political party wins an election with more than the combined votes of all their opponents.

What is Plurality?

Plurality is getting the most number of votes, but that amount can be less than half of the votes. In other words, plurality is getting the most votes but that amount of votes may be less than 50% of the votes. Plurality is the concept that is taken into account when there are more than two candidates fighting for the same 100 votes and none gets past the majority of the votes, which is, obviously, 50 votes. Here, if the votes are divided among the three candidates in the ratio of 45, 35, and 20, it is clear that no one has majority votes, but according to the principle of plurality, the candidate getting 45 votes is declared the winner. Thus, plurality is the highest number of votes in an election though being less than half. It is possible that one of the candidates may still get more than 50 votes, and then he is said to have a majority of the votes.

Plurality vs Majority

What is the difference between Plurality and Majority?

• Definitions of Plurality and Majority:

• In majority, one candidate gets more than half of the votes.

• In plurality, the winner is the candidate with the highest number of votes, though he still may have got less than half the number of votes.

• More than Half of the Votes:

• Though the winner in both cases is the one with the highest number of votes, it is only in majority that the winner has more than half of the votes.

• Number of Candidates:

• For majority to take effect two candidates is enough.

• For plurality to take effect, it is necessary for an election to have 3 or more candidates.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Majority ballot by Homunq (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Plurality ballot by Mark (CC BY-SA 3.0)