Each institution entitled to decide by QMV has its decision-making principle tailor-made. The specific set-up is defined while forming (or re-forming) the given institution and it is determined by several factors. The latter may entail the function of the institution, its inner organisation set-up, statute, etc. These factors are case-specific and their specification is relevant with regards to actual functioning of the decision-making process and its efficiency. As this paper does not aspire to focus on the functioning of a decisionmaking process in the Council per se, the above mentioned factors will not be further elaborated or scrutinized. Instead, attention will be paid to the identification of a general design by which a decision-making process is formed.
Key terms linked to QMV are the allocation of votes to individual actors and the threshold of minimal winning or minimal blocking coalition set up. The influence of individual actors depends on the method of how votes are allocated and the threshold that is set up. In other words, the design of the decision-making process directly influences its functioning and the actors‘ behaviour. The latter according to votes they dispose of enter the coalitions with the goal to overcome the threshold for minimal winning or blocking coalition.
The votes‘ allocation and the set up of the threshold for minimally successful coalitions are two fundamental factors of the design of the decision-making process which are to some extent analogical in the sense of their definition. In either case, firstly the principle, secondly the criteria and thirdly the number (of votes) or level (of threshold) must be determined. As outlined above, both parts of the design of the decision-making process (i.e. votes‘ allocation and the minimal successful coalition threshold setup) are in their logic similar. Still, for the sake of clarity, both will be dealt with separately.
The principle with regards of vote allocation expresses whether the allocation will be equal or unequal. According to an equal allocation, each actor would possess an identical number of votes (e.g. the case of national parliaments where each Member of Parliament possesses one vote). In the case of an unequal allocation, it is further possible to identify the principle of direct denomination (when it is directly identified how many votes each actor disposes of and the number can differ from actor to actor) and the proportionality principle, where votes are allocated according to certain criteria. Based on the principle chosen, the criteria-setting variable is identified accordingly. This variable defines the criteria of vote allocation.
For the allocations using the equal principle and the one using the principle of direct denomination, the criteria is set up axiomatically, while allocation using the proportionality principle calls for a range of criteria setting variable choices. If the actor is a nation state, its economical performance (defined as GDP), population count, etc. can be brought into consideration. Finally, according to the principle and the variable (criterion) the votes are allocated.