About us

A BLOG 

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/

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DECISION-MAKER
Inclusive voting app 

https://debordavote.org

  JUST OUT  -  THE APP TO BEAT ALL APPS, APPSOLUTELY!

(Currently under re-construction.)

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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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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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WELCOME

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 > What is your work in Europe?

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The de Borda Institute has worked in the following countries, which appear in this order:

1)   The Balkans, which include Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia (as was), Albania,  Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo.  

2)   The Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. 

3)   Russia.  Ukraine.  Austria, France,  Germany, Spain and Poland.  Uzbekistan, Kyrghyzstan and Belarus.

The Balkans

The director first visited Yugoslavia in 1990 when he completed a cycle ride from Moscow to Tirana. At that time, he visited Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania, but his visit to Yugoslavia only involved Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, and the latter two only briefly.  Nevertheless, in each of these countries, he managed to publish an article on consensus politics.  Nowhere was it more necessary.

He returned to Yugoslavia in 1992/3, when he visited Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia (twice), Macedonia and Serbia.  Apart from Bosnia and Kosovo which are covered separately (see below), he also passed through Croatia in 1997, 1998 and 2003; he cycled through the Serbian Sandzhak in 1999 on his way to Kosovo, and returned to Serbia in 2000, when he worked as an OSCE election observer in Vojvodina, before then cycling across the Preševo Valley into Kosovo and out again. He also made a second visit to Montenegro in 2003.


Bosnia

He first worked in this country as a war correspondent in the winter of 1992-3 when he travelled (by push-bike) across Bosnia, from Zagreb via Banja-Luka and 'the corridor' to Belgrade, and then back again, from Belgrade via Zvornik, Pale and Sarajevo, to Mostar and Split. In 1996, he worked as an OSCE observer for the first post-Dayton elections, as well as on further occasions in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000.  In addition, he was deployed to Bosnia in January 1999 as an adivser to the OSCE, to promote inclusive decision-making processes and electoral systems. 

This last visit as a political adviser was under the auspices of the (Irish) Department of Foreign Affairs. The work involved many meetings throughout Bosnia, in both Republika Srpska and the Federation, discussing inclusive voting procedures with politicians, journalists, human rights activists, and so on. Sitting on a bus one day, on his way to Brchko, he was reading Sarajevo's now legendary newspaper, Oslobodjenje; it said that "...all the wars in the former Yugoslavia started with a referendum" {"...su svi ratovi u bivšoj Yugoslaviji poceli nekim referendumom"} (p 11, 7.2.99).

This deployment took place one month after the Madrid Peace Implementation Council had decided to review Bosnia's post-Dayton electoral system. Accordingly, having first met Ambassador Barry, OSCE Head of Mission, the director (who speaks some Serbo-Croat) drafted a proposal for the National Working Group, the name given to the Bosnian electoral commission under Prof. Nadzer Milicevic.

One of several written proposals was as follows and, by the end of this consultation process, the Quota Borda System (QBS) was one of six electoral systems short listed. On his return to Bosnia in July 1999, Prof. Milicevic informed the director that if Bosnia had had an electronic counting system, the commission might well have chosen QBS.

Bosnian Quota Borda System proposal Download... (47K pdf document)

His second trip of 1999 was to present two papers to a standing conference in Konjic on "Strengthening Democracy", and he also spoke at some of the subsequent seminars, in 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007. One of these presentations has since been published; (see publications).

Kosova

Following his January '99 deployment in Bosnia, the director visited the OSCE Headquarters in Vienna in February, where he met Ambassador Stoudmann of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) from Warsaw, who then invited the de Borda Institute to participate in devising an electoral system for Kosova. This too, it was suggested, could be based on a Quota Borda System, as had been proposed for Bosnia, and papers were written to this effect. Unfortunately, however, the OSCE chose the very system which Bosnia had rejected, namely, the closed list PR system in which the voter may express only one preference. Needless to say, it works like a sectarian head-count.

Given this work, the director visited Kosova/Kosovo in July 1999, (his spare bicycle was in Sarajevo), on a tour which included Mitrovica, Priština, Prizren and Pec/Peja.

He returned in January 2000, travelling by bicycle from Bujanovac in Serbia, across the Preševo Valley (which was then under the illegal command of the KLA) to Priština, where he renewed some of his contacts from his earlier visit.

In July 2001, he was back again, this time to work as an International Trainer for the OSCE, and was thus responsible for the conduct of both the international supervisors and the national trainers in forty polling stations in the Nov. 2001 Assembly elections.

In 2002, he returned as a short term election observer.

Caucasus

The director's first visit to the Caucasus was in 1990, when at the invitation of the late Zurab Zhvania, MP, he gave a press conference (in Russian) in Tbilisi on inclusive democratic structures. At that time, many of the Soviet Union's Republics were hoping to become independent, and many citizens in Tbilisi were wanting to set up such democratic structures as might help Georgia to develop speedily but above all peacefully. Sadly, their efforts were unsuccessful.

He returned in 1993, by which time Georgia had suffered one civil war and two ethnic conflicts; the former was when Gamsakhurdia lost power to Shevardnadze, while the latter battles took place in Abhazia and South Ossetia. The Abhazian conflict was then at its height, and having delivered a further press conference in Tbilisi, the director visited Sukumi, the 'capital' of that province, which was then under siege.

In 1999, in his capacity as director of the de Borda Institute, he re-visited the Caucasus on two separate occasions. In June, he gave a presentation to "The International Conference of Journalists" in Batumi, Georgia, on behalf of the British East-West Centre under the (British) Foreign Office. And in November, working as a political adviser under the (Irish) Department of Foreign Affairs, he visited all three countries - Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan - as well as two of its conflict zones: Abhazia again, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

As in Bosnia, his work involved meeting government ministers, journalists, politicians, political scientists, human rights activists, mediators in conflict resolution work and electoral commissioners, to talk primarily on decision-making both in national/regional referendums and in majority voting in parliaments, but also on electoral systems.

More visits were in Novermber 2003 and January 2004, where he worked as an election observer during the presidential elections in Azerbaijan and Georgia respectively. The first allowed for the son of the former president, Aliyev, to take over, as it were, democratically.  While the Georgian election saw Mikhail Saakashvili come to power in what was called the rose revolution, and Zurab became the PM. 

The director's next job was as a translator in the EU Monitoring Mission, Sept 2008 - Jan 2009, near the administrative boundary of South Ossetia.  On 30th December, he gave a workshop on consensus politics in parliament buildings, and he hopes to give a more detailed presentation in Jan, 2009.

He was back in 2012 as an election observer.

Russia

Prior to the inauguration of the de Borda Institute, the director worked as a Russian/English translator in Moscow from 1988 to 1990, with other visits in '84, '86, '87, '93 and 2004. Thus he was able to witness, and participate in the whole process of democratisation, with articles in Moscow News ('Moskovskiye Novosti') No 6, 5.2.99, for example. Shortly afterwards, according to the deputy editor of that newspaper, Mikhail Gorbachev used the word 'consensus' for the first time, (whereas the usual Russian word for 'agreement' is 'soglasiye'. Later, of course, the President changed his mind and at a 1990 meeting of the Russian parliament, he was heard to yell: "Consensusa nyet i ne budet!" ["There is no consensus, and there's not going to be any either!"]

The director and his co-author, Irina Bazileva, a patron of this Institute, were also published alongside the late Alexandr Solzhenitsyn in 'Novy Mir' [New World] No 3/90, and in book form in 'Pravo i Vlast' [Power and the Law], an anthology in which they were featured with the late Anatoly Sobchak and others. In addition, the director was interviewed in 'Pravda' [The Truth] as well as being published in a number of other magazines like 'Svyet' [The Light] and in various provincial newspapers.

For some reason, none of these achievements were ever acknowledged in the Irish media, North or South. And partly because of the lack of interest shown by various western correspondents in any non-majoritarian democratic structures, the new Russian parliament adopted the traditional majority vote of western democracies. This majority voting ensured that one half of the new government (as represented by the Nobel peace-prize winner, Mikhail Gorbachev) was locked into opposition with the New Regional Group (under the other Nobel laureate, Andrei Sakharov).

Was it wise, we may now ask in hindsight, for the new Russian parliament, faced with such enormous problems, to adopt a decision-making process in which one 'half' had a vested interest in the failures of the other 'half'?

Secondly, did the West realise that, by advocating the majority vote and the right of majority rule, by promoting what may best be summed up in the word 'majoritarianism', it was actually using a term which translates as 'bolshevism'? (The Russian word for 'majority' is 'bolshinstvo', and those who were members of the majority were the 'bolsheviks' or 'bolsheviki', and thus were they named by Vladimir Ilich Lenin, in 1903. The losers of that vote, the minority, became the mensheviks, from the Russian 'menshinstvo' meaning 'minority'.)

His most recent visit was in March 2004, when he worked as an OSCE observer during the presidential elections which saw Mr. Putin returned to power. Much has changed, in Moscow. But out in the villages, life is still much as it was under Brezhnev.

Ukraine

The director lived in Ukraine in 1987, when studying the Russian language.  Three years later, he cycled across the country while travelling from Moscow to Tirana.

In 2004, he was an election observer in all three presidential elections, when eventually, in the orange revolution, Yushchenko beat his rival Yanukovich.  Two years later, he was deployed as a long-term observer in Mikolayev, overseeing the March 2006 elections.  And in 2007, he was a short term observer again.

The Ukraine now uses a form of PR-list in which the entire country is one constituency and in which the voter is able to express only a 1st preference.  There was, and still is, great rivalry, therefore, between Yushchenko and Timoshenko, yet both hail from the same orange origins.

As happens in so many countries, a divisive voting procedure has many unpleasant consequences.  And the two-round elections of 2010, which he also observed, were again fraught.

France

At the invitation of the French Green party, the director ran seminars in Countances, Rouen and Paris in 2006/7.

Germany

When the director first travelled to the Soviet Union in 1986, by bicycle, he travelled via the GDR and East Berlin, before crossing into West Berlin at Check Point Charlie.  By the time he returned to run seminars in Potsdam University for the students of Prof. Angela Mickley, another patron, in 2004, 2006 and 2009, much had changed.

Austria

In 2004, he presented a paper at the Mediation Praxis conference in Potsdam; and in 2011, he taught at the European Peace University in Stadtschlaining.

Spain

He presented a paper in Alicante University, at a Social Choice and Welfare conference.

Poland

He returned to Warsaw in 2009, to presen a paer on inclusive voting procedures to the OSCE/ODIHR.

Uzbekistan

He observed the elections in 2004, part of which was electronic, with machines designed in Belarus.

Kyrghyzstan

More elections, these in 2007.

Belarus

And some rather strange elections in 2012.

Last updated on June 15, 2013 by Deborda