The government by ...

So, my question is, is there a word to define the government by the simple majority of persons?

More precisely, I'm thinking of a word that completes the following progression:

diarchy, triarchy, polyarchy, X.

In fact, I think that "polyarchy" doesn't necessarily imply that the number of persons involved in the government is greater than the 50% of the total number of persons involved.[I hope that this sentence is clearly comprehensible]

It's worth noting that "democracy" is not the word I'm looking for because such a word, as far as I know, defines a complex concept not based only on the majority criterion.

I have already asked this question on English Language Learners [], but, just after having asked, the question was closed as off topic apparently because it was "not really a Learners' level of question." Yet, I think the StoneyB's and Mistu4u's answers aren't entirely satisfactory.

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    I think you may be ascribing a more specific meaning to the word democracy than is justified. In common parlance, if a family of five are arguing about which TV channel to watch, all native speakers would understand that if they opt for a democratic solution, that would mean watch whatever the majority want. – FumbleFingers Jan 27 '13 at 21:30

Majority government, as other answers have pointed, is the usual phrasing.

If you're necessarily looking for a single word, Arithmocracy refers to government by the simple majority. Looking it up, several online dictionaries agree with the definition.

  • Dictionaries do not agree. They agree that arithmocracy has to do with numerical supremacy, but not about what that is. Dictionary.com: “rule by the numerical majority of the population”. TheFreeDictionary.com: “rule by that group which holds the numerical majority in a state”. Phrontistery.info: “government by simple majority ”. Outside North America “simple majority” is commonly used to mean “plurality”. So arithmocracy applies variously to majority rule by population, majority rule of those voting, plurality rule by population membership, plurality rule by votes cast, etc. – MetaEd Feb 7 '13 at 19:13
  • @MετάEd : Yes, I did get that sense of rule by majority, as opposed to rule by the group representing the majority. However, it seems impractical to presume that arithmocracy means 51% of the country's population will congregate at one place to sign a bill into law! Ground realities and established democratic practices would grant us that the group representing the simple numerical majority is what is being referenced. – Autoresponder Feb 8 '13 at 5:32

There is a cluster of words that come close.

Oligarchy is a rule by a few.

Majority rule is a form of government based on a majority. The phrase will generally be applied to representative bodies such as parliaments rather than to systems of government.

Plebiscite is when the voters of a state vote on a ruler or a matter of opinion. It often requires a majority of voters to pass. It is closely related to...

A Binding Referendum is a vote that will be adopted as law under certain circumstances. It is also a form of direct democracy. (You are correct that democracy, by itself, is often more complex than a simple majority of voters.)

A Tyranny of the majority captures the worst of government by a simple majority, and I leave it in this cluster because I do not know how you intend to use it.

I hope that one of these might meet your needs.

  • +1 for "majority rule", but it is a pity that this definition doesn't have the "sound" I'm looking for. Thank you. – user19148 Jan 27 '13 at 21:32

This is usually referred to simply as a majority government, and it's extremely uncommon for a government to have 100% control (if so, it's probably a dictatorship rather than democracy).

This is opposed to a minority government, where the ruling party does not have a majority and is under threat of losing in parliament, making it unstable. Often in these cases, parties will make deals and form a coalition so they can rule as a majority government.


A government by majority would be a subset of polyarchy (government by many persons). I think the word you're looking for doesn't exist, any more than there's a specific single word for "Diarchy where one of the people is an old man".


If by "simple majority of persons" you mean "simple majority of the persons governed", then that would be direct democracy (as opposed to various forms of representative democracy, as an example of democracy that is not direct democracy).

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