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A supermajority refers to a requirement for a higher percentage of votes than a simple majority to approve a decision, measure, or action within a legislative body.

While a simple majority typically requires more than half of the votes, a supermajority may require anywhere from a two-thirds to three-quarters vote or even more, depending on the specific rules or constitution of the political entity.

In many countries, changing the constitution requires a supermajority vote in the legislative body. This higher threshold is meant to ensure broad consensus for such significant changes.

In some jurisdictions, removing a high-ranking official through impeachment, such as a president, from office may require a supermajority vote. This is to prevent removal for purely partisan reasons.

In systems with checks and balances between branches of government, a supermajority might be required to override a veto from the executive branch, emphasizing the significance of the action.

Some laws or regulations might require a supermajority to pass, especially if they pertain to fundamental rights or deeply ingrained societal principles.

Different political systems may define specific types of supermajorities, including:

  • Two-Thirds Majority: Often used for significant actions like amending a constitution or overriding a presidential veto.
  • Three-Fifths Majority: Sometimes used for specific legislative procedures or cloture motions to end debate in legislative bodies.
  • Three-Quarters Majority: Occasionally required for particularly momentous decisions, such as altering fundamental state structures.

The supermajority is a multifaceted and essential concept in political systems, acting as both a safeguard and a challenge.

By requiring a broader consensus for major decisions, it reflects a commitment to deliberation, stability, and inclusiveness.

However, it can also lead to gridlock or manipulation if not carefully balanced with the needs for effective governance and responsiveness to change.

And if one party holds a supermajority, the legislative body can sometimes push controversial policies unfettered by the opposition.

Use of “Supermajority” in a sentence

  • To pass the constitutional amendment, the legislators knew they needed to secure a supermajority, requiring two-thirds of the votes, a task that necessitated bipartisan cooperation.
  • The city council’s decision to require a supermajority for zoning changes reflected an effort to ensure that any major alterations to the community’s character had widespread support.
  • Despite having a clear majority in the Senate, the ruling party struggled to achieve the supermajority needed to override the President’s veto, leading to intense negotiations with opposition members.