Double majority

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This article is about voting with two criteria of majority needing to be satisfied. For a majority of 50% plus one vote, see either Majority or Absolute majority, for a marjority requiring an arbitrary level above 50% plus one vote, see Supermajority.

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.[citation needed]

In Australia

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 Treaty was already ratified in 20 EU member states, but failed to achieve ratification from France and the Netherlands in 2005. Currently, a substitute called Reform Treaty is in negotiations.


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.

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