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Majority Rule in International Presidential Elections

Rob Richie, Rachel Lewis, and Jack Santucci // Published June 6, 2006

Of the 28 freest presidential democracies, 21 require the president to win with a majority of votes. Two more mandate presidents be elected with relatively high minimum pluralities. Only five allow pure plurality winners. One of them, the United States, permits the winner of the popular vote to lose the election through an Electoral College system. The 23 countries with majority and minimum plurality requirements all employ runoff elections. 22 use delayed runoff elections and one, Ireland, builds both rounds into one with instant runoff voting (IRV).

Each method has implications for voter choice, quality of campaigning and respect for majority rule. This report examines each system and its implications by way of description and case studies.