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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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!


Vienna TEDx Talk - October 2017

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


2010-1: Decision-making on the web

Our latest work, the result of an experiment on decision-making conducted entirely - both debate and vote - on the web, is published by EPS.  More details on


A synopsis of the trial is on the following openDemocracy webpage.


2009-6: Electing an all-party coalition.

On 7.10.2009, the de Borda Institute hosted an open public meeting in Dublin, to see if the Dail could elect a power-sharing cabinet, with TDs choosing not only those who would serve in government, but also the particular department in which each successful Minister would serve.  The original invitation is here.

Participants were split into various groups, one each to represent FF, FG, Labour, Independents, GP and SF.  And each group was given a fixed number of ballot papers, in proportion to current party strengths in the Dail: 20, 14, 5, 2, 2 and 1 respectively, a total of 44 ballots.  The matrix vote is based on QBS and the MBC.  So it was to everyone's advantage to submit a full ballot - i.e., to cast all their preferences - and to do so on a cross-party basis.  Thus, in the simulation, groups planned strategies amongst themselves, and then negotiated deals with others. 

The outcome was as follows: FF 6, FG 5, Lab 2, Ind 0, GP 1, SF 1 - a proportional, all-party, power-sharing coalition cabinet, a GNU.  In other words, the matrix vote is indeed a robust voting procedure, and it all works without any resort to party labels.  A full report along with the results are here. 

(See also 2012-7 and 2011-6/5.)



2009-5: Open letter to Michael Wills MP

In the wake of the expenses scandal, many are the calls for reform of the system of governance: inter alia, there are campaigns for changes to the electoral system and reform in the House, but few if any are suggesting reform of our decision-making processes, the 2,500-year-old majority vote, the most inaccurate measure of collective opionion ever invented.  Hence this open letter to the Minister  


2009-4: Government of National Unity

The people elect the parliament, by PR; and the parliament elects the government, by PR.  Otherwise you get those crazy consequences of majoritarianism: the US Republicans hoping that Obama will fail; the UK Labour Party producing a budget of debt deisgned for only one year. 

In Ireland, too, the need for parliamentary collective responibility is obvious.  Hence this letter in The Irish Times, published on Wed. 22nd April.

(See also 2012-7 and 2011-6/5.)


2009-3: MBC Election of Irish GP Chair

Irish Political Studies has just published  Prof. John Baker's interesting analysis of the MBC vote, which was used in the 2007 election by the Irish Green Party/Comhaontas Glas when they elected their Cathaoirleach/chair, and here it is.


2009-2: The warped majority

An article in The Guardian on 4.3.2009 explores the use of consensus voting in a number of real life scenarios.



2009-1: Towards a More Inclusive Democracy


Brno University has just published an article entitled Towards a More Inclusive Democracy, and here it is, available on http://www.cepsr.com/clanek.php?ID=334


2008-3: Participatory Budgeting

Participatory Budgeting (PB) first came to prominence in Porto Alegre in Brazil in 1988.  Simply put, it allows local people not only to prioritise expenditures, but also to come to a collective decision on the allocation of funds.  This can hardly be done by a majority vote, but it can be done by ranking the various options in order of preference, i.e. by an MBC.  Rankings can be measured in other ways, of course; but in June 2008, in a paper on consensus voting presented at a PB seminar held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, this Institute argued for the MBC.  In the subsequent round-up of opinions, much enthusiam was expressed: and in the words of one participamt, "I am persuaded". 

Participatory budgeting is not a threat to representative democracy; rather, the former can enhance the latter.  We hope other pilots will follow.


2008-2: Online Consensus experiment

 OurKingdom, the new economics foundation and the de Borda Institute recently gave interested parties from think tanks, research groups and campaigning organisations, as well as members of the general public, the opportunity to participate in an online trial of consensus decision making.

You can see the whole debate


2008-1: Consensus research funding

The de Borda Institute and nef (the new economics foundation) have received a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust to test the potential of consensus voting More...  The report of part of this experiment is published by EPS (see also 2010-1).

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