About us


A blog: " De Borda abroad."  From Belfast to Beijing and beyond... and back. Starting in Vienna with the TEDx talk, I go by bus and/or train for more debates in Belgrade, Sarajevo, Istanbul, Tbilisi, Yerevan and Tehran, before flying - sorry about that - to Urumqi in Xīnjiāng, followed by more debates in Beijing, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Taiwan... but not in Pyongyang. Then back via Mongolia (where I was an election observer last year) and Moscow (where I worked in the '80s).

I have my little fold-up Brompton with me - surely the best way of exploring any new city! So I fly hardly at all; I go by train, boat or bus if possible, and then cycle wherever in each new venue; and all with just one plastic water bottle... or that was the intention!

The story is on:  https://debordaabroad.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/de-borda-abroad/


Inclusive voting app 



(Currently under re-construction.)


The Hospital for Incurable Protestants

The Mémoire of a Collapsed Catholic

 This is the story of a pacifist in a conflict zone, in Northern Ireland and the Balkans.  Only in e-format, but only £5.15.  Available from Amazon.



About us

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The de Borda Institute aims to promote the use of inclusive voting procedures on all contentious questions of social choice.

This applies specifically to decision-making, be it for the electorate in regional/national polls, for their elected representatives in councils and parliaments, for members of a local community group, for members of a company board, for members of a co-operative, and so on.




The director alongside the statue of Jean-Charles de Borda, capitaine et savant, in l’École Navale in Brest, 24.9.2010. Photo by Gwenaelle Bichelot. 

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Won by One

Welcome to the home page of the de Borda Institute, a Northern Ireland-based international organisation (an NGO) which aims to promote the use of inclusive voting procedures on all contentious questions of social choice. For more information use the menu options above or feel free to contact the organisation's headquarters. If you want to check the meaning of any of the terms used, then by all means have a look at this glossary.

As shown in these attachments, there are many voting procedures for use in decision-making and even more electoral systems.  This is because, in decision-making, there is usually only one outcome; but with some electoral systems, as in any proportional ones, there can be several winners.  Sometimes, for any one voters' profile - that is, the set of all their preferences - the outcome of any count may well depend on the voting procedure used.  In this very simple example of a few voters voting on just four options, and in these two hypothetical examples on five, (word document) or (power-point) in which a few cast their preferences on five options, the profiles are analysed according to different methodologies, and the winner could be any one of all the options.  Yet all of these methodologies are called democratic!  Extraordinary!


Vienna TEDx Talk - October 2017

Here's the YouTube,  the PowerPoint, and the text of the speech (more or less).


2019-32 Blogs galore

The latest for PSAI.  https://politicalreform.ie/2019/10/15/decisions-decisions-binary-or-multi-option-and-or-preferential-votes-by-peter-emerson-director-de-borda-institute/


2019-31 Book launches

Majority Voting as a Catalyst of Populism (Springer, Heidelberg), was/will be launched in:

i)   Brighton, on 10th Sept, during the Conflict Research Society conference; 

ii)  Belfast on 26th, in the de Borda Institute; 

iii) Leiden on 10th Oct in Oranjerie;

iv) Brussels on 14th in the European Environment Bureau;

v)  Sarajevo on 24th in the Network for Building Peace;

vi) Tbilisi on 6th Nov in the Caucasus International University; and

vii) Moscow, soon, in HSE University, (more details later).


2019-30 Prague - Institute H21.

A presentation in the Senat (the Czech House of (elected) Lords) on 15th Sept.


And here's the corresponding talk and power-point presentation.


2019-29 An Irish blog - PSAI


Decision, decisions. Binary or multi-option and/or Preferential Votes.


2019-28 A talk for the Open Future Festival

The Economist: Open Future Festival, Manchester. IF THE PROBLEM ISN’T BINARY, DON’T USE BINARY VOTING Some questions can be pretty silly. If I ask.....

Click to read more ...


2019-27 A 4th book from Springer (Heidelberg)


Majority Voting as a Catalyst of Populism is based on my journey from Belfast to Beijing and beyond, Sept. 2017 to Sept '18, and it talks of how majority voting and binary majority rule have been part of the problem, pretty well everywhere: in conflict zones like Belfast and the Balkans; in 'stable democracies' like the UK, as in Brexit; and even in communist countries like Russia - after all, the very word 'bolshevik' means 'member of the majority'.


2019-26 Letter in The Guardian, 19 Sept.

Maybe we are nearly all partly right — Labour, Lib-Dem, Green et al, including some honest Tories. Maybe the mistake is the notion that a non-binary problem can be solved by a binary vote. However, as Pliny the Younger pointed out in 105 AD, in a multi-option debate, if there is no majority for any one thing, there is a majority against every single thing.
So, on complex issues, votes in parliament, referendums, party conferences, etc., should be multi-optional and, ideally, preferential.



2019-25 Rights (and Wrongs) of Majority Rule

http://www.scirp.org/Journal/paperinformation.aspx?paperid=94818  has just been published in the Beijing Law Review.


2019-24 A letter in the Irish Times

Sir, – The Irish and British electoral systems are very different: PR-STV (a British invention) is one of the best. First-past-the-post (FPTP) is its extreme opposite. But we both have the same decision-making system: binary voting, one of the worst.

Click to read more ...


2019-23 Participatory Budgeting