Plurality

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[edit] Relative Majority

A plurality, or "relative/simple majority" as it is also referred to outside the United States (especially in non-English speaking countries; in the US, simple majority has another meaning), is the largest share of something, which may or may not be a majority in the American sense of the word. The Plurality voting system, also known as "First Past the Post", elects the candidate who is the stated first choice of the plurality of voters.

The meaning of "plurality" depends on how the elements are categorized. For instance, consider a room with 12 people: 3 Germans, 2 Englishmen, 2 Canadians, 2 Mexicans, 2 Guatemalans, and 1 US national. Considered by national origin, the 3 Germans are the plurality; considered by continent the 7 North Americans (Canadians, Mexicans, Guatemalans, and US national) are a plurality; considered by primary national language, the 5 anglophones (Englishmen, Canadians, and US National) are a plurality; and considered by both continent and language, the 4 North-American Hispanics (Mexicans and Guatemalans) are a plurality. However, only the North Americans, when considered by continent, constitute a majority. In the context of voting, this ambiguity can lead to coalitions of greater or lesser stability.

The smallest possible plurality is (v+1)/n, rounded up, where v is the number of members of the group (voters) and n is the number of categories (candidates). Thus in a 5-candidate plurality election, just over 20% of the vote can theoretically win.

[edit] Religious Councils

In religion, the term plurality has been coined to refer to an alternative system of church government, wherein the local assembly's decisions are made by a republic of older men held in equal status, each typically called an elder, in contrast to the "singularity" of the bishop hierarchy system (of Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches); or the pastor / president system (of Protestant churches). The plurality system is commonly encouraged among Presbyterians, Jehovahs Witnesses, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Plymouth Brethren, and some Apostolics.

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Plurality

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