Theory and Practice, Problems and Paradoxes
8. Taking Abstention Seriously1 8.1 Why Bother? As we observed in Com. 2.2.4, the mainstream literature on voting power has conﬁned itself almost exclusively to the SVG model, which does not admit abstention as a tertium quid that can aﬀect the outcome of a division diﬀerently from both a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ vote.2 Moreover, real-life decision rules that do treat abstention as a distinct option — whose eﬀect is not always the same as ‘yes’ or always the same as ‘no’ — are often mis-reported as though they conform to the binary, SVG model. Thus, decisions in each of the two Houses of the US Congress require the ‘yes’ vote of a simple majority or, in some cases, two-thirds of the members present (provided the members present constitute the needed quorum of a simple majority of the entire membership);3 but some of the best writers on voting power erroneously substitute the total membership for those present.4 Also, in the UNSC a permanent member’s abstention, as distinct from a ‘no’ vote, does not count as a veto;5 but the voting1 2 This chapter is largely based on our  and . In the mainstream literature, Fishburn [39, pp. 53–55] is an isolated and brief exception. 3 See  for details, including quotation from US Supreme Court opinion in the case of Missouri Paciﬁc Railway Co. v State of Kansas, 248 U.S. 276. For example, [11, p. 192], [16, p. 62], [59, p. 235], [66, p....
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