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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?


2016-4, China , 中国 ,  一篇文章

International Peace-Making—Creating Post-Conflict Structures of Government is published in OJPS, which is based in Wǔhàn.  See also 2015-1, 2014-11, 2013-16/13/11.


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

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