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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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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!

« 2019-20 Local elections still dodgy | Main | 2019-14 Imagine, an old Brexit solution. »

2019-15 Everything on the table? An MBC?



Majority voting can be divisive but indecisive; preferential voting can be inclusive and conclusive.

To devise a binary choice to satisfy (almost) everyone is probably impossible; drafting a multi-option referendum would be only difficult. 

Democratic decision-making should cater for (almost) all; therefore, in parliament or a referendum, the ballot should be multi-optional, with options on the EU, the EEA, a Customs Union, the WTO, whatever.  Accordingly, let an independent commission as in New Zealand in 1992, or a citizens’ assembly as two years ago in Ireland, draw up a balanced list of, say, five options.

Politics is the art of compromise; preferential voting is its science.

The democratic process should allow voters to compromise.  At the very least, therefore, the vote should be preferential so that each voter may cast, not only a 1st preference but also, if they so wish, a 2nd and perhaps other preferences as well.  In this points system,

+  he who casts only a 1st preference gives his favourite 1 point;

+  she who casts a 1st and a 2nd preference gives her favourite 2 points (and her second choice 1 point);

and so on; thus, in a five-option ‘preferendum’,

+  he who casts all five preferences gives his favourite 5 points (his second choice 4, his third 3, etc.).

A 1st preference is never, therefore, devalued by a 2nd or other preference.  This Modified Borda Count, MBC* encourages both the voters to cast their compromise option(s) and the protagonists to campaign positively among their erstwhile (majoritarian) opponents.

The result is the option with the highest points score.  At best – if everyone casts full ballots – this is everyone’s highest average preference and, therefore, their best possible compromise.


Majority rule divided Northern Ireland.  Brexit divided England.  And “all the wars in the former Yugoslavia started with a [binary] referendum,” (Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo’s newspaper, 7.2.1999).  Instead of seeking a solution with yet more division, let us use a more inclusive, more democratic MBC which, to quote the late Professor Sir Michael Dummett, “is the soundest method of identifying the [option which] is most generally popular… or at least the most acceptable.”


*          The MBC was invented in 1770.  In a ballot on n options, a voter may cast m preferences.  So n ≥ m ≥ 1. Points are awarded to (1st, 2nd … last) preferences cast according to the rule (m, m-1 …1).

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