What is "Absolute Majority"?
What is an absolute majority? Two definitions seems to contradict each other.
- The first is that an absolute majority is a majority of all the possible votes, including votes of electors not present or declining to vote.
- The second is that an absolute majority is a majority of the votes cast, in contrast with a plurality (= more vote that any opponent)
For instance, imagine an organization that specifies that decisions are to be taken by absolute majority. There are 20 members in the organization, and 10 meet for a general meeting. They vote for a motion 6 to 4. Under the first definition, the motion is rejected (6 out of 11 votes needed). Under the second, it passes (6 out of 6 votes needed).
The first definition is supported by this Wikipedia article and its third source, but its second source is more ambiguous. Wiktionary and the Free Dictionary list both possibilities under the same entry. Additionally, in other languages (french at least), the definition clearly matches the second case, hinting at possible regional differences.
Is there an authoritative definition of the term, or is it different from country to coutry or institutions to institutions?
Absolute majority always defined by the institution, or the context.
Take some examples:
- Absolute majority may mean 50% + 1 vote, which means the sum of the opposite votes didn't and couldn't sum up to 50%. I would expect based on sources in the question and the by Hungarian example this is the general definition.
- Absolute majority may be defined as 2/3 of the votes. Which means no other votes are close to contest the majority.
- Absolute majority may be the 100% of the votes (excluding or including abstain votes or non-votes). Since it is rare to archive, this method typically used in small scale where the people can negotiate the final conclusion of the topic.
If you want to be sure what is "absolute majority", you always need to check the definition in the right context. It always mean stricter definition than the Simple majority.
I've +1'd, but this answer would be better if you addressed the topic of quorum as well.
In an absolute majority a candidate receives more than half of the votes cast (i.e. 50% +1)
There is no universal definition of an "absolute" majority. The definition of a majority is regularly outlined in governing documents like a constitution, standing rules, or in some cases deferred to the latest version of Robert's Rules.
The definition can sometimes be changed from session to session, more serious measures like those that have the potential to impact the minorities ability to voice opposition may require a different standard than others.
Excellent theoretical question, because it's difficult to define the default majority given that one isn't defined. Robert's would say that precedent and customs would govern a body without written rules.