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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.

Please see here for some background on the director.  And this is a U-tube presentation by Phil Kearney on decision-making.


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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 on the right 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 decision-making and even more electoral systems.  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 hypothetical example, in which a dozen individuals cast their preferences on five options, the profile is analysed according to six different methodologies, and the winner could be any one of all five options, or a draw between some of them.  Yet all six methodologies are called democratic!  Extraordinary!


What's New?


Crimes in Crimea

This article is in the latest edition of Village Magazine.


Crimea, referendum, The Guardian.

Letter published on 18th Mar.  "The fact that the options presented to the Crimean electorate do not include any 'Ukrainian options' (Two options but only one possible outcome, 15 Mar) means that today's referendum is no more or less democratic than our own AV v FPP referendum, in which there were no proportional representation options.  As in Crimea, so too in the UK the powers-that-be have total control over the choice of ballot. Sadly, international rules on the conduct of referendums do not recommend multi-option voting.  Hence those Crimeans who might otherwise have wished to vote for a compromise, or even just the status quo, [were] not allowed a free choice." 



Crimea, referendum.

The BBC does not (yet) talk about multi-option decision-making.  Here's my latest missive: 

Referendums, a brief history: year, state, question, outcome, consequence.  
1988, Yugoslavia, maintain the state, vetoed by Slovenia, impasse.  
1990, Slovenia, secession, 89% yes, war.  
1991, USSR, maintain the state, 78% yes, the opposite - the break-up of the Soviet Union.  
1991, two ballots, one in Croatia and one in the Krajina, secession and no secession, Orthodox and Catholic boycotts but 93% and 90% yes, war.  
1991, Kosovo, independence, Orthodox boycott but 99% yes, not recognised by EU for 8 years, then war.  
1991 (post-war), Nagorno-Karabakh, independence, Azeris in exile but 99% yes, no peace.  
1992, Bosnia, secession, Orthodox boycott but 99% yes, war.  
1992 (post-war), South Ossetia, independence, yes, more war.  
1999 (post-war), Abhazia, independence, Georgians in exile but 97% yes, no peace.   
2006, two more polls in South Ossetia, the Ossetians boycott one and the Georgians the other, another war.  
Oh and by the way: 
1972, Northern Ireland, the border, Catholic boycott but 97% yes, more 'troubles'.
The referendum is a blunt instrument.  In effect, it often disenfranchises those who might otherwise want to vote for compromise - the Yugoslavs, for example.  It is divisive, that or it exacerbates existing divisions.  It is inconclusive: in Russia - in Chechnya Tatarstan etc, - referendums are not allowed, for such ballots could lead to 'the break-up of the Federation.  (They call it matryoshka nationalism' : just as inside every Russian doll, matryoshka, there is another smaller one; so too, in every majority, there is a minority: UK, Ireland, Northern Ireland, West Belfast, Springmartin, my granny.) 
The question in Crimea does not have to be either/or.  A multi-option referendum could allow for compromise.  Newfoundland had a three-option constitutional ballot in 1949; Singapore also had three in 1962; twenty years later, Guam had six.  



Ukraine (letter sent to OSCE etc.)

The Ukraine is only the latest in an increasingly long line of countries - Bosnia, Kenya, etc. - where western advice first suggests a majoritarian form of democracy - a zero-sum form of majority rule, either single party or, if need be, a majority coalition; then, when it all goes horribly wrong, an opposite is recommended - an all-party coalition.  Surely, it would be wiser to start with the latter.

Would it not also be sensible to advocate a more inclusive electoral system?  Indeed, in Ukraine, the zero-sum elections of recent years - Yanukovich v Yushchenko, Yanukovich v Tymoshenko - were part of the problem.  Better, as a minimum, the original US system where not only does the winner become the president, but also the runner-up becomes the vice or deputy.  Better still a preferential system such that, in effect, voters are asked to cross at least one party- if not inter-communal-divide.




Good Governance

The above article has just been published in International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences.  It's on http://www.ilshs.pl/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/ILSHS-102-2014-132-155.pdf