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.



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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 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!

« 2019-3 Majority voting - a sacred cow? | Main | 2019-1 Brexit - the bind of binary voting »

2019-2 Brexit: if it ain't binary, don't binary vote

Letter in the Irish News.  See 2019-1, 2018-17, etc.

Dear Editor, 

The British political establishment seems to be mesmerised by "the mystique of the majority,” to use Sir Michael Dummett’s phrase.  Nearly all of them act as if a complex problem like the UK’s relationship with the EU was, and still can be, resolved in a simplistic, divisive binary vote.

But consider the theory.  Apart from many forms of multi-option voting, there are two types of binary question: the basic “A or B?” and the even more primitive, “A, yes or no?”

As Donald Tusk might imply, there’s a “hell" of a difference between the two.  The June 2016 referendum was not really an “A or B?” choice.  52% didn’t like A.  But option B — the supposed "will of the people” (or 52% of them) — was, and is still, unknown.  The question was much more like, “A, yes or no?”  So we know only what they don’t want. Perhaps the question should have been a multi-option vote, e.g., “A or B or C?” — "in the EU, EEA or WTO?" (as this Institute suggested in February 2016) — a choice of, say, three definite options. 

In 1992 in New Zealand, an independent commission chose five options for their electoral system referendum: first-past-the-post, FPTP; PR-STV; and three in the middle.  They now have the German form of PR.

Unfortunately, in 2011, our Electoral Commission decided that an “A or B?” question was enough for our Westminster electoral system: "FPTP or the alternative vote, AV?” neither of which is PR.  For many voters, therefore, it was like asking a Muslim, “Are you Protestant or Catholic?”

Worse was to come: in 2016, the Commission chose the most inaccurate of all questions, “A, yes or no?” (“remain or leave?”).  Was it wise to use such a blunt instrument?   And is it wise, now, either in parliament and/or in any second referendum?  Sadly, the Commission and all but a handful of politicos refuse to consider a more inclusive preferential methodology, yet the latter offers the possibility of a fair and accurate resolution of what is definitely not a binary problem.


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