Majority Rule the Norm in Democracies

Alan GarciaFairVote on June 7 released its new report Majority Rule in International Presidential Elections: The Dominant Role of Runoffs Around the World. The paper comes on the heels of centre-left candidate Alan Garcia's victory in Peru's presidential runoff. Ollanta Humala, a populist with ties to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, led in the first round with just over 30%. Without a majority requirement and runoff, Humala would have won, contrary to the wishes of most Peruvians.

Majority Rule looks at presidential election systems in 28 democracies with high Freedom House ratings. 21 use runoffs and instant runoff voting to ensure majority winners. Two more use runoffs to ensure winners achieve minimum pluralities. Only one - the United States - has an Electoral College system that allows the popular vote winner to lose an election. Each system has important consequences for majority rule, voter choice and campaign style.

[ Read the abstract and download the paper in PDF ]
[ FairVote Executive Director Rob Richie's letter to the Washington Times ]