UNDERSTANDING THE 3 TYPES OF PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITIES
Now that the Speaker of the National Assembly Dr. Barton Scotland has made his pronouncement and some of the fervent passion and emotion may have subsided it may be useful for us to understand that there are three types of votes in the National Assembly.
Two thirds majority. This is required for changes to the constitution etc. It requires two thirds of all elected members to vote in favour of.
Simple majority. This is for ordinary matters and requires a majority of all members “present and voting”. So, for example, not all members attend every sitting of the National Assembly and in some instances, of the 65 members, 50 or 40 or some other number would attend.
Absolute majority. This is for special matters, such as the vote on December 21 when the Constitution SPECIFICALLY REQUIRES a majority of ALL ELECTED MEMBERS.
It is important to note that a SIMPLE MAJORITY (33) is NOT the same as an ABSOLUTE MAJORITY.
A SIMPLE MAJORITY requires only a majority of members who are present and voting. It does not require all elected members to be present and voting. For an ABSOLUTE MAJORITY there has to be a MAJORITY of ALL ELECTED MEMBERS.
There are those, who for political and other purposes wish to mislead the public into believing that there is only one type of majority voting in the National Assembly when it is not so.
There are 3 types: (i) Two Thirds Majority (ii) Simple Majority and (iii) Absolute Majority.
As the Speaker noted in his address this afternoon, Article 168 (1) clearly states as follows:
“Save as OTHERWISE PROVIDED by this Constitution, all questions proposed for decision in the National Assembly shall be determined by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting.”
This clearly speaks to a simple majority.
Article 106 (6), which speaks to what is requires in a confidence motion is different and clearly requires as follows: “a majority of ALL ELECTED MEMBER of the National Assembly.
Article 106 (6) states, in full: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”
Article 168 could not be clearer – it says, specifically, “save as otherwise provided” which is exactly what article 106 (6) requires, it specifies what is otherwise provided – an ABSOLUTE MAJORITY of ALL ELECTED MEMBERS, NOT simple majority of all members present and voting.
By Imran Khan
Director of Public Information