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).


2019-7 Binary Voting is Orwellian

(Indicative) Binary Votes Are Orwellian In 2003, the late Robin Cook tried to persuade the House to adopt preference voting, in vain, for “this would have required the technological development of a pencil and a piece of paper,” he said, “far too big a step for our parliament and its medieval procedures.” His efforts were prompted by a series of majority votes (on Lords reform) – which Lord Desai had warned would be “daft,” (Hansard, 22.1.2003). They were indeed inconclusive.

Click to read more ...


2019-6 Indicative Votes

A series of majority votes might indicate nothing - as in 2003. A knock out system, the two-round system or AV, could give the wrong outcome. Best use a ranking system, we say in our latest press release


2019-5 More 'meaningful' = less meaning.

openDemocracy has just published our latest press release:

The Danish parliament uses plurality voting; the Finns and Swedes opt for serial voting; the Norwegians have provision for two-round voting. Sadly, even when the question isn’t binary – and Brexit is definitely not binary – Westminster still relies on binary ballots.




2019-4 BBC Today programme interview

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme, 18th March broadcast an interview with Peter on multi-option decision-making. Hear it on Iplayer (53:30).




2019-3 Majority voting - a sacred cow?

Phil Kearney adds this article to a debate which still hasn't started.


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.

Click to read more ...


2019-1 Brexit - the bind of binary voting

Unfortunately, all too few people question binary voting; but it's part of the problem!  Political Science Association of Ireland, PSAI, has just published:



2018-18 Paddy Ashdown, 1941-2018

Paddy was probably the bravest, most committed, most linguistically gifted of all post-war UK politicians.  

Here he is at our 2012 book launch in the House of Lords, (2011-9 and 2012-4), along with the late Elizabeth Meehan (2018-1) and his fellow lord, Mike Boyce. I first met Paddy back in the 70s at a Liberal Party function: we were both ex-military, both of Northern Ireland, and both of Belfast.  So he took me to Yeovil, and I was highly impressed by his energetic campaigning.  Our paths crossed again in Bosnia, where he was the much-loved High Representative, 2002-6. A Serbian friend of mine sat next to him, flying to London one year.  "Sarajevo?"  "Oh yes, I've been there," said Paddy, never one to boast.  We were often in touch, so I signed my next letter to him, boastfully, Srdačan Pozdrav, (Serbo-Croat for 'yours sincerely'); to which his secretary replied, Dear Srdačan Pozdrav.


2018-17 Brexit: a binary ballot 'meaningful'?!

openDemocracy has just publihsed:


and see 2018-16, 2018-14, etc.


2018-16 BBC Radio 4 - PM


Evan Davies gave de Borda an interview on his PM programme on Mon 12th Nov.

See also 2018-14 and 2017-5