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.



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 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!


Vienna TEDx Talk - October 2017

Here's the YouTube,  the PowerPoint, and the text of the speech (more or less).


2012-13: Catalonia and Scotland

Both Catalonia and Scotland talk of majority vote referendums.  Yet after the Dark Ages, the first European to criticise majority voting and to propose instead preference voting  was a Catalan: Ramon Llull, the 12th Century father of the science of social choice.  While he who led to the re-birth of this discipline was the 20th Century Scot, Duncan Black.  So we have written to The Scotsman (Edinburgh) and The Times (London) in English, to El Pais (Madrid) in Spanish, and to .... (Barcelona) in .......

(See also 2014-12, 2013-15, 2012-10/1 and 2011-1.)


2012-12: Flags in Belfast

Yet again, majority voting is shown to be inadequate.  Accordingly, this letter was sent to the press, and was published in The Irish News on 11.12.2012. (See also 2014-3.)


2012-11: (No) women bishops in the CoE

What a mess!  And in large part, it is because the Church of England (like many another organisation) uses majority voting.  This was published in the Church of Ireland Gazette on 7.12.2012.


2012-10: Scottish referendum

The sentence - "There should be a three-option preference vote on independence, devo-max and status quo." - was highlighted in today's GuardianThe full text is here.  (See also 2014-12, 2013-15, 2012-13/1 and 2011-1.)


2012-9: In Europe in general...

The Green European Journal has just published my article on Decision-Making and Planetary Survival. It's on:  http://www.greeneuropeanjournal.eu/decision-making-and-planetary-survival-the-link/

(See also 2012-8.)


2012-8: And in France in particular...

An interview, published in the journal "Transrural Initiatives", is on http://www.transrural-initiatives.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/INTERVIEW-PETER-EMERSON-TRI-419.pdf


2012-7: Matrix Vote, in Maynooth, Stormont.

On 23rd June, at the PSAI postgraduate conference in Maynooth, we did another experiment on the matrix vote.  The text and power-point presentation are attached, as too is the power-point used to present the results.  The full report is on-line at: http://www.scirp.org/journal/ojps/

Six MLAs - David Ford (Alliance), Nelson McCausland (DUP), Steven Agnew (Green Party), Alban Maginness (SDLP), Francie Molloy (SF) and John McCallister (UUP) - sponsored a seminar on the matrix vote in Stormont on Wed 12th Sept 2012, but only two MLAs attended, along with mainly GP activists. See also 2011-6/5.


2012-6: The Guardian - 21.7.2012

"...like so many in the media," I wrote, "you debate electoral systems but not decision-making".  The full article is here.


2012-5: Tommy Sands interview.

Tommy Sands broadcast a full one-hour interview with Peter Emerson on his programme Country Ceili on Downtown Radio.  It's on http://www.yousendit.com/download/QlVpNU1OR0ZtMEp2Zk1UQw 


2012-4: Video of Defining Democracy launch

Youtube video of the House of Lord launch of Defining Democracy with Lord Ashdown.  And here's part of what was said at the Belfast launch: http://audioboo.fm/boos/740716-peter-emerson-talking-after-launch-of-his-book-on-decision-making-voting-procedures

(See also 2012-3.)