The Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13] deals with what happens if no presidential
candidate obtains a majority of the total number of valid votes cast in the
presidential election. Section 110(2) of this Act provides that where two or
more candidates are nominated and no candidate receives a majority of the
total number of valid votes cast, a second election must be held within 21
days after the previous election. Section 110(4) provides that in the second
election only the two candidates who received the highest and next
highest number of valid votes cast at the first election will be eligible to
contest the second election. If these two candidates receive an equal
number of votes, Parliament must, as soon as practicable after the
declaration of the result of that election, meet as an electoral college and
elect one of the two candidates as President by secret ballot and without
Clearly if all that was required was a simple majority there would never be
a need for a run-off. The candidate who receives the greatest number of
votes would be declared the winner, even if the total number of votes
received by that candidate are far less than 50% plus one vote. In a run-
off under the electoral provision the contest is between the person who
received the highest number of votes and the person who received the
second highest number of votes. If the provision required a simple
majority for victory in the elections, the person who received the greatest
number of votes would have been the victor and there would be no need
for any run-off.
That this provision requires an absolute majority for a person to be
elected as President is further fortified when one sees that a completely
different formulation is used to describe the simple majority that is needed
to elect members of Parliament. In section 66 of the Electoral Act, all that is required is that a candidate must obtain the greatest number of votes. Thus in a constituency it is a winner-take-all approach. For example, there are three candidates and candidate 1 receives 37%, candidate 2 receives 36% and candidate 3 receives 27%, then candidate 1 will have received the greatest number of votes and will be declared the winner.
Taking a number of different scenarios can show that the provision on
presidential elections is referring to an absolute majority.
Three candidates stand. Candidate 1 receives 33.5% of the vote, candidate 2 receives 33.4% of the vote and candidate 3 receives 33.1%.
There would have to be a run-off between candidates 1 and 2.
Five candidates stand. Candidate 1 receives 23%, candidate 2 receives 22.9%, candidate 3 receives 20.1%, candidate 4 receives 18% and candidate
5 receives 16%.
There would have to be a run-off between candidates 1 and 2.Post published in: News