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Difference Between Plurality and Majority

Plurality vs Majority

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.

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. 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. 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.

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.

What is the difference between Plurality and Majority?

• In majority, one candidate gets more than half of the votes, whereas, in plurality, the winner is the candidate  with the highest number of votes, though he still has less than half the number of 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. For plurality to take effect, it is necessary for an election to have 3 or more candidates.


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