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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.



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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!

FAQ on > The Work of the Institute > Have you worked elsewhere in the world?

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East Africa

In an earlier stage of his life, the director worked as a volunteer maths teacher in Nairobi. It was a time when Jomo Kenyatta was in charge (of everything!) in Kenya, when Julius Nyerere was promoting his socialist policies of ujamaa in Tanzania, and when Uganda fell from one tyrant, Milton Obote, to another, Idi Amin. And the young volunteer from Europe asked himself if the British system of two-party politics was actually appropriate for a non-British setting. (Later on, of course, he realised that it is not suitable for Britain either!)

In 2003, having brushed up on his Swahili, he returned to all three countries and made his first visit to Rwanda. A report is attached. More...

Southern Africa

In 2007, the director ran a one week course on consensus politics in UNAM, the University in Windhoek, Namibia, for professional civil servants and military personnel, some of whom had already served in peace-keeping operations in DRC and Sierra Leone.  From here he travelled to Cape Town and Jo'burg, to meet members of SADC as well as academics in universities and NGOs.


The director made his first visit to the Middle East, to Lebanon, in December, 2003. The purpose was to study the rather unique electoral system they use out there, a system which was first devised in 1943, during the throes of the Second World War, as part of the Taif Accords. Basically, if it is considered that a constituency will be represented fairly if it has, let us say, one Druze, one Maronite and one Shia, they hold three 'first-past-the-post' elections on one ballot paper. Every voter votes for his/her favourite Druze, Maronite and Shia, and the easiest way of doing this is to vote for just one 'ticket'. In other words, this electoral system encourages the politicians of different confessional backgrounds to nevertheless work together on matters political. The disadvantage is that the system itself perpetuates the very idea that confessionalism is important; indeed, the system institutionalises it.

It would have been nice if Paisley, before he stood in Northern Ireland elections, had been forced by the rules of the electoral system to first find a Catholic who shared his political 'ideals'.


The director presented a paper in the University of British Columbia in Vancouver as part of the Social Choice and Welfare bi-annual conference.

In May 2009, the people of BC voted on a two-option ballot for electoral reform: first-past-the-post versus STV.  The winner was FPP.  So we sent the following letter to the Globe and Mail.

Dear Sir,


The BC referendum on electoral reform offered the voter a stark choice: first-past-the-post or STV. So, as I said in my submission to the Citzens' Assembly Submission EMERSON-0093 what is she who prefers the (German) system of AMS meant to do? Or he who wants a PR-list system?


In such a multi-option setting, any use of a two-option ballot is almost bound to be inaccurate. It is as if the waiter in a restaurant asks me, "Do you want beef or cod?" when in fact I want an omelette. Obviously, such a question is valid only for those who favour either beef or cod, and those who fancy chicken, salmon or anything else it partially dis-empowers.


Could not BC have held a multi-option ballot, as New Zealand did when they held a five-option poll on electoral reform in 1992? Is just a little pluralism really so difficult?




Peter Emerson


United States of America

The de Borda Institute undertook a lecture tour of the USA in Feb/Mar 2009.  Presentations were given in Brandeis, New York, Duke, George Mason, George Washington, Pittsburgh, Carnegia Mellon and Irvine Universities, as well as in the Carter Centre, IFES, Fairvote, the World Resources Institute and Common Ground.  In addition, a successful demonstration of the Modified Borda Count was held with some members of the US Green Party.


Last updated on May 15, 2009 by Deborda