Minoritarianism (often also called minority rule) is a political philosophy or agenda which asserts that a segment of a country's population (sometimes categorized by religion, language or some other identifying factor) to which a minority of its citizens belong is entitled to obstruct political progress sought by a majority or is otherwise entitled to a certain degree of primacy in that country's society.
Examples of minority rule in countries include:
In democracies, and in particular, direct democracy in the form of initiatives, minoritarianism often surfaces in cases where there are supermajority election decision threshold requirements.
Minoritarianism in small deliberative groups
On a smaller scale, supermajority decision threshold requirements are also sometimes found in small deliberative groups where these requirements are sometimes adopted in an attempt to increase protection of varied interests within the group. However this attempt is generally discouraged by parliamentary authorities:
- Some people have mistakenly assumed that the higher the vote required to take an action, the greater the protection of the members. Instead the opposite is true. Whenever a vote of more than a majority is required to take an action, control is taken from the majority and given to the minority. ... The higher the vote required, the smaller the minority to which control passes. (from "The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure" by Alice Sturgis)
A common criticism of consensus decision-making is that it can lead to a situation wherein a minority can block the will of the majority. In defense, consensus advocates tend to take the position that this is a feature—that no decision is preferable to one without the consensus support of the group.
Even in the case where minority control is nominally limited to blocking the majority with veto power (whether as a result of a supermajority requirement or a consensus process), this may result in the situation where the minority retains effective control over the group's agenda and the nature of the proposals submitted to the group.
Minoritarianism is in force when a minority segment of such a group thwarts particular decisions from being made or otherwise wields significant control over the process as a result of their veto power.