Two thirds to make laws?

Continuing this week’s theme of educating reporters, I would note that the lack of comparative politics understanding in the news media is not just an American affliction. On Deutsche Welle’s (English-language) Journal TV program this morning, a report on the South African election indicated that the main question was whether the ANC would retain the two thirds majority it needs “to make laws.”

Now I do not deny that some constitutions require two-thirds majorities to make certain laws (and sometimes not only constitutional amendments). And the ANC may well have an agenda for the coming term that would require super-majorities to accomplish. However, one might have gotten the impression from the report that all laws require two thirds to pass in South Africa. One would be mistaken in that impression; like most democratic legislatures, most decisions are taken by (simple) majority (see Article 53).

One thought on “Two thirds to make laws?

  1. If it took 2/3 majority to pass all laws, the courts would be very powerful.

    It’s one thing that annoys me with that constitutional amendment I spoke about, uniting the Storting in one chamber. They introduced some sort of supermajority/quorum rules, of which there has been very little discussion.

    I’m sceptical of such, because I worry that when laws are hard to change, loopholes stay open longer, and unelected judges get more power.

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