Minoritarianism or more commonly, the tyranny of the minority, is most often applied disparagingly to processes in which a minority is able to block legislative changes through supermajority threshold requirements. For example, if a 2/3 vote in favor is required to enact a new law, a minority of greater than 1/3 is said to have “minoritarian” powers.
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, as the majority will not propose ideas that they know the minority will veto.
Critics of this use of minoritarianism argue that the ability to block legislation is substantially different from the ability to enact new legislation against the will of the majority, making the analogy to unpopular “dominant minority rule” examples inappropriate.
Minoritarianism is sometimes used to describe rule by a dominant minority such as an ethnic group delineated by religion, language or some other identifying factor. Historical examples included Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) under Ian Smith and South Africa under apartheid rule.
Minoritarianism may also be used to describe some cases where appeasement of minorities by votebank politics is practiced. Examples include, but are not limited to, Indian Muslims, African Americans and Francophone Canadians.