in bourgeois state law, a system for determining the results of elections to representative bodies. Under the majority system the candidate (or list of candidates) that receives the majority of votes as established by law is considered to have been elected in a given district. Modern bourgeois states use the absolute majority system and the relative majority system (the USA, Great Britain, India, and Mexico).
Under the absolute majority system, the candidate who receives the absolute (or simple) majority of the total number of votes cast and recognized as valid (that is, 50 percent plus one) is considered to have been elected. If none of the candidates receives the required number of votes, the two candidates who received the greatest number of votes compete on a second ballot. Instead of a second ballot, a second round of voting is sometimes held, the results of which are determined by another majority system. In France, for example, where the absolute majority system is used in elections to the National Assembly, the relative majority system is used in the second round.
Under the relative majority system, the candidate who receives more votes than any of his opponents is considered the winner. In countries where this system is used, a parliamentary majority is often won by a party that does not have the support of the majority of the electorate.
There is another majority system, the qualified system, under which two-thirds or three-fourths of the total number of votes cast are required for a victory. It is used very rarely (for example, in elections to the Italian Senate). However, insofar as only a small minority of candidates receive 65 percent of the votes of the electorate, parliamentary seats are distributed according to a proportional system of representation.
Depending on the number of deputies elected from each electoral district, majority systems are classified as uninominal, or one-mandate (single-member districts), and polynominal, or multimandate systems (multiple-member districts).
In the bourgeois states both forms of majority systems are undemocratic. The majority system is not representative, because a parliament formed as a result of majority system elections does not, as a rule, reflect the actual balance of political forces and the roles of the different parties. For example, in elections to the National Assembly in France (March 1973) the Communists received as many votes as the ruling party (the Union of Democrats for the Republic), but the latter received twice as many seats as the Communists. Moreover, under the multiparty system in the bourgeois states, the majority system always favors the powerful bourgeois parties, and the considerable number of votes cast by the electorate for small parties have no effect.
Because the use of the majority system results in a serious distortion of the will of the electorate in the interests of the ruling circles, democratic forces in the bourgeois countries are fighting for the introduction of proportional systems of representation, under which seats in a representative body are distributed in proportion to the number of votes received by each party. This system more accurately expresses the will of the electorate.