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).


2018-5, Dr John Robb RIP

One of our patrons, John was only fantastic. He was one of the few in NI who managed to build friendships based on trust from both sides of Northern Ireland's sectarian divide. Indeed, it was he who was largely responsible for the success of the New Ireland Group, an NGO which he founded in 1982 and which so often managed to bring together persons from all walks of life, not least the politicians from across the dreadful divide.  


2018-4, Majority/Grand Coalitions

In 2016, Ireland and Spain both broke their national records for time spent by a newly elected parliament to form its government: 70 days and 303. In 2017, the Netherlands did the same, 225. And now, in 2018, Germany does it as well, 161 days. Surely the lesson of Weimar is that majority rule is no good. Better an all-party coalition. That is, never let extremist parties get more power than their proportional due, like the Nazis in 1933 Germany, the Jewish Home in 2015 Israel, the DUP in 2016 UK, and the FPÖ in 2017 Austria. Just give them, including AfD (Alternative für Deutschland), their fair share. And then work in consensus. Extremists will soon tire. Others, like Sinn Féin, may well soften up.

Here's the latest graph showing various parliaments and the days they've taken to form their governments.


2018-3 Ireland's Citizens' Assembly

They've done it: the Citizens voted in favour of multi-option voting! Albeit in a majority vote. Ah well, can't be perfect. And albeit with another majority vote - STV or FPTP? - to recommend how should such multi-option ballots be analysed. This second question could have been multi-optional; but no; another dichotomy; this is probably a diehard reaction from the 'experts' to (try to) show that binary ballots are still acceptable.

To what extent the vote on multi-option voting was a result of our persuasion/persistence, we will probably never know. Never mind. It's happened. Here's our submission. See 2017-12, 2017-11 and 2016-14.


2018-2 A second EU referendum?

Complex questions should not be reduced to simplistic dichotomies.  Hence openDemocracy's latest: https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/peter-emerson/second-referendum-on-deal-with-eu-multi-option-poll  

See 2017-14.


2018-1 Elizabeth Meehan, RIP

Professor Emerita Elizabeth Meehan, RIP.

One of our first patrons, Elizabeth passed away on 6th January. She will be remembered not only as a stalwart supporter of all our 'de Borda' endeavours, but also as a lovely person and a very good friend.


2017-18 Green European Foundation


2017-17 Austria

The extremist FPÖ is now in government. Only because Austians (like so many others) use majority voting and believe in majority rule... the cause of so much bitterness and bloodshed. Germany also believes, and is in a state of impasse, while the Czech Republic has settled - if that's the right word - for a minority administration. Because they believe in majority rule? See 2017-13.


2017-16 A Majority of One

The US Senate is now down to a majority of just one. Meanwhile, in the UK, the 'rebels' defy the whips and Brexit will be softer. But do terms like 'rebel' and 'whip' really belong to a democracy? 


2017-15 TEDx presentation in Vienna 2017

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


2017-14 Brexit, 'hard' or 'soft'

The first Brexit referendum should have been multi-optional! As we argued in 2016-1. If it had been, "remain in the EU" would probably have won. (See the TEDx talk in 2017-15.) Any second referendum should also be multi-optional. Letter in IT.  After all, the binary ballot of June 2016 only initiated yet another binary debate: is it to be a 'soft' or a 'hard' Brexit?

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