About us


A blog: " De Borda abroad."  A journey to China. Starting in Vienna with a 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. But in every city, I have my little fold-up Brompton - the best way of exploring any new venue! It's all on:




Mulit-option and Preferential Referendums

Please sign the petition



Inclusive voting app 




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 decision-making and even more electoral systems.  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!


What's New?

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


2016-3 A new book on how to form a govt.

Perfect timing!  "From Majority Rule to Inclusive Politics - Electing a Power-Sharing Coalition" (Springer; Heidelberg and Berlin) was launched in Dublin on 23rd February, three days before Ireland's most 'chaotic' election results ever - 'chaotic' that is, for those who believe in majoritarianism

So, like Spain's now, (see also 2016-10), like Belgium's a few years ago, Ireland's post-election parliament is multi-party... and hung! Hence, an Irish Times podcast, A Shock to the System, 28th Feb, on http://www.irishtimes.com/podcasts  plus an article on the matrix vote etc. on 5th, then this letter and this one on 8th and 15th March.

We also launched our new App, Decision-Maker by conducting a role-play on the thorny subject of flags on Belfast City Hall; here's the report.


2016-2, Poland

Following 3 lectures in Warsaw, this English version of an interview was also published.  (See also 2014-2.)



2016-1, EU referendums, (British/Dutch)

If you ask the wrong question, you may get the wrong answer.  As in this press release.

The Dutch referendum on 6th April was a nonsense: those voting 'yes' were thinking about Ukraine, those voting 'no' were more concerned about the EU.

We have got to say 'yes' to something.  Decision-making should be based on ballots of 2- or more- options, on which the voters say 'yes' to at least one option, or, at best, in their order of preference to more than one.  Thus can we identify the option with the highest average preference, which is, ah, the consensus option.


2015-7 UK Constitutional Convention?

openDemocracy has just published:  https://opendemocracy.net/uk/peter-emerson/inclusive-decision-making-systems-are-must-for-any-uk-constitutional-convention

It follows the piece in May on the EU in/out referendum:  https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/peter-emerson/eu-referendum-what-is-question-though


2015-6 Defining Democracy - recent reviews

Katy Hayward has reviewed Defining Democracy in the journal, Representation:


and Miloš Brunclík has done the same in Central European Political Studies:



2015-5 UK Labour Party leadership election

This letter was published in the Irish News, Aug 19th.  In a second letter, I predicted a result with candidates A-B-C-D getting A 60%, B 20% (not a bad guess, really), C 10% and D 10% of the 1st preferences, but if the A, C and D supporters all give B their 2nd preferences and A their 4th, then in a Borda Count election, (not A but) B would have been the most popular. 

And this second letter was in The Guardian on 14 Sept.


2015-4, SNP get PR-STV for Westminster?

A press release, calling for the SNP to get PR-STV for Westminster elections.  And The Guardian published a version of this letter on 11th May,

Most MPs were not first-past-the-post because they didn't even reach it.   Only 48.6 per cent of the MPs, 316 of them, were elected by a majority of their constituents.   Yet they now use majority voting in parliament?  See also 2015-3 and 2015-2.


2015-3 UK election, 7th May 

A hung parliament might have promoted reform; the worry is that a majority government perpetuates majority rule.
Alas, there's a Tory majority.  So, instead of negotiating with the Liberals, Cameron now has to talk with his right wing. That or, like John Major on Maastricht, chat up potential allies like the DUP - who also have a price.
We distributed four press releases, the first on 7th March, next was another on 3rd May before this one on the day before polling and on the 7th itself, this finale.  In addition, openDemocracy published this:
This letter to The Guardian - Murphy's Law of politics - was not printed.  See also 2015-2.

2015-2. UK general election, May 2015

David Cameron got the question wrong in both the 2011 FPP v AV and the Scottish referendums; "careless," as Oscar Wilde would say.  In all probability, he will soon rue the day he decided the question on the electoral system would be "FPP or AV?"  (i.e., his 1st preference or his 2nd?)  After the May general election, there will almost certainly be a hung parliament; so should there be (a minority administration), a majoriy 2- or 3-party coalition, a grand coalition, or, as in Switzerland, an all-party coalition?  

But why majority rule?  Because decisions are taken by majority vote?  If so, then again, why?  It is, after all, the most inaccurate measure of collective opinion ever invented.  Hence this article on openDemocracy:


And hence, too, this press release, on 7th March.


2015-1: Hong Kong 香港 2nd consultation

This submission to the 2nd consultation was made on 12.1.2015.  And here's the 1st one to the 1st consultation.

(See also 2014-11, 2013-16/13/11.)

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