Model UN: Using the Qualified Majority Voting

Matthew Hanzel Avatar
The European Parliament

So, you are joining a Model United Nations conference, and you are assigned to the Council of the European Union. Well done! An exciting conference is certainly in order. You start doing some research, you take a look at the rules of procedure.

As you flip through the pages, you read about the voting procedure.

Then, you read the words, “Qualified majority voting.”

There is perhaps no more complicated way to find a majority in a voting procedure than the one used by the European Union, which is called the Qualified Majority Voting (QMV). The idea is actually very simple: It wants to create a ‘double-majority’ system, to prevent the decision making process from being stream-rolled by some of the bigger powers of the EU, such as France, the United Kingdom, and Germany (often called the “big three”).

The rules for QMV has changed in accordance to various changes to the Treaty of the European Union. The latest modification happened with the Treaty of Lisbon (now itself known as the Treaty of the European Union (TEU)). The so-called Lisbon Rules state the condition of majority if a decision is:

  • Supported (with favoring votes) by 55% of member states (there are currently 28 member states of the EU, which takes a minimum of 15 member states; and at the same time
  • Supported by 65% of the European Union’s population.

Notice the phrase and at the same time. A motion (or a proposal) carries when both of the majorities are achieved at the same time. The math may be a bit complicated, so let’s see an example.

For instance, a voting procedure to pass a proposal in the European Council of Ministers is being done. After the voting procedure is done, 16 countries are in favor. Now, by count of member states alone, the first majority is fulfilled. To check whether the second majority is fulfilled, let’s check the following table.

Member States Vote Population % EU pop.
Austria N 8,584,926 1.69
Belgium Y 11,258,434 2.22
Bulgaria N 7,202,198 1.42
Croatia Y 4,225,316 0.83
Cyprus N 847,008 0.17
Czech Republic Y 10,538,275 2.07
Denmark N 5,659,715 1.11
Estonia Y 1,313,271 0.26
Finland Y 5,471,753 1.08
France N 66,352,469 13.06
Germany Y 81,174,000 15.97
Greece Y 10,812,467 2.13
Hungary N 9,849,000 1.94
Ireland Y 4,625,885 0.91
Italy N 60,795,612 11.96
Latvia Y 1,986,096 0.39
Lithuania Y 2,921,262 0.57
Malta Y 429,344 0.08
Netherlands Y 16,900,726 3.33
Poland N 38,005,614 7.48
Portugal Y 10,374,822 2.04
Romania N 19,861,408 3.91
Slovakia Y 5,421,349 1.07
Slovenia Y 2,062,874 0.41
Spain Y 46,439,864 9.14
Sweden N 9,747,355 1.92
United Kingdom N 64,767,115 12.74

Now, if we examine the above table, again, the first majority is fulfilled, since 16 member states are in favor of the proposal. Judged by the number of population represented, however, those 16 states represent 219,076,738 people of the European Union population, or just 43% of the population. This proposal, therefore, will be rejected, since it does not fulfill the second majority criteria.

One response

  1. Bhavya Shah

    Since I have never received the opportunity to delegate in the EU, thiss was valuable information to keep in mind for future conferences. BTW, feel free to check out my recent blog ‘Hiking Across Horizons’ as well featuring content related to Model UN located at Will keep checking back for more fo such excellent postings!

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