The Secretary-general of the United Nations is elected by a process with complicated rules, but which in practice (since the complicated exceptions rarely arise) is essentially approval voting.
There were 15 countries voting, with the possible votes being "approve," "disapprove," or "no-opinion" on each candidate. (But apparently the words "encourage" and "discourage" were felt to be more diplomatic than "approve" and "disapprove.") The votes were as follows (extracted from http://www.unsg.org/wordpress/archives/170). Ban's vote was 14 encouraging and 1 "no opinion." The result indicates that Ban was not opposed by any of the five permanent members (P), which is important because they have the power (if they choose to exert it) to veto anything the UN does, including if it elects somebody Secretary General. All five remaining candidates received at least one discouraging vote from permanent member(s):
Total 39+35+16=90=6×15 scores for the 6 candidates from the 15 voters. The average number of approvals per ballot was 2.6=39/15.
Ban's election was then "confirmed" by the full General Assembly. [The setup is rather similar to the election (basically by 3-level range voting) of the Doge in Renaissance Venice, followed by his confirmation (or, in theory, rejection) by the assembly of the people.]
Incidentally, Donald Saari raised the fear that approval voting would in practice "degenerate" to plurality voting. This fear is seen, at least in this high-stakes example, to have been utter garbage.
Farhan Haq Inter Press Service English News Wire 12-14-1996 UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 13 (IPS) -- Kofi Annan, a career U.N. staffer and currently head of the United Nations' peacekeeping department, will be the world body's next secretary general, the U.N. Security Council confirmed today. The 15-member Council approved Annan, a Ghanaian diplomat who is undersecretary general for peacekeeping, by a unanimous vote in a secret "straw poll" before formally voting to recommend him to the 185-nation General Assembly as the next U.N. chief. The Assembly is expected to vote Dec. 16 by consensus for Annan...
|Who||Term of office||Country||Reason withdrew|
|Gladwyn Jebb||Oct 1945 – Feb 1946||United Kingdom||Acted until Lie's election||Trygve Lie||Feb 1946 – Nov 1952||Norway||Resigned||Dag Hammarskjöld||Apr 1953 – Sep 1961||Sweden||Died in plane crash||U Thant||Nov 1961 – Dec 1971||Burma||2nd term ended (did not re-run)||Kurt Waldheim||Jan 1972 – Dec 1981||Austria||China vetoed third term||Javier Perez de la Cuellar||Jan 1982 – Dec 1991||Peru||2nd term ended (did not re-run)||Boutros Boutros-Ghali||Jan 1992 – Dec 1996||Egypt||USA vetoed second term||Kofi Annan||Jan 1997 – Dec 2006||Ghana||2nd term ended (did not re-run)||Ban Ki-Moon||Jan 2007 – ?||S.Korea||(still in office)|
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