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Mulit-option and Preferential Referendums

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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?


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.