UNDERSTANDING THE 3 TYPES OF PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITIES

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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 MAJORITYof 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

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