majority rule

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Widely used as a synonym for ‘universal franchise’ (for instance in the slogan ‘No independence before majority rule’ or NIBMAR, which was the British Government's position on Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in the period leading up to the unilateral declaration of independence by the white minority regime there in 1965). As this instance shows, it is easy to recognize what is not majority rule, but harder to say what is. ‘Majority’ means ‘more than half’; but most political choices involve more than two people or courses of action, and therefore no one may have the support of as many as half the electors. What then is majority rule? This is a deep and still unresolved question, for which see further Borda, Condorcet, democracy, and impossibility theorems.

Subjects: Social Sciences.

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