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/



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.



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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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).


2016-12 Brexit and Trump

Under majority rule, a win for populism  -  Trump, Le Pen, whoever  -  means democracy has failed.  The need for a more consensual polity could not be greater!  Hence this press release, next this letter in The Guardian, 11th Nov, and then these analyses of the US election and Trump, what a silly, dangerous nonsense and if only there had been at least some PR.  (See also 2016-9.)

Brexit. The argument now is not 'remain' v 'leave', but another dichotomy - (of course) - 'soft' v 'hard'. These two adjectives also described the split in the All Russian Congress of Social Democrat, in London in 1903. They voted, binary - (again of course, just like us). The 'hard' wing won, by 19 to 17, with 3 abstentions. (So no side had 50%.) Nevertheless, Lenin called his side the majority, bolshinstvo, and its members the Bolsheviks. And the losers, the minority, menshinstvo, were the Mensheviks. Will history repeat itself? Will the brexiteers now split?


2016-11 Mosul

The right of self-determination is usually interpreted to be by a majoritty vote.  You choose your border, adjusting as necesary to ensure you have a majority, and then maybe you have a referendum.  The rut started in Northern Ireland - the border in 1920, the poll in 1973.  Then came the Balkans, the Caucasus, East Timor and South Sudan, i.e., yet more violence, everywhere.  If various bits of Iraq like Mosul or Kirkuk are to suffer the same fate, or Kashmir, or Taiwan and then Xīnjiāng, or some Moslem/Christian states in Nigeria or similar parts of the CAR or various regions in the DRC - the list goes on and on - God help us!  


2016-10 Spain, more majoritarian nonsense...

313 days of argument and bickering to form a majority government; they fail; OK, a minority administration will have to do.  Meanwhile, the West argues for Syria and Ukraine to have power-sharing.  See 'The Matrix Vote' in right-hand column. See 2016-5.


2016-9 David Cameron, the 3 'whiches'.

EU - wrong question gets wrong answer.  There's a letter in The Guardian (7th Oct), and this critique of brexit, David Cameron and the three 'whiches' which was published in Brussels and London.


The UK referendum was bound to be 'Leave', as predicted in this press release of 5.2.2016, and this article of November, 2015.  So hence https://www.opendemocracy.net, this letter in the local press, a further letter from Phil Kearney to the Dublin press (but unpublished), and a posting on Slugger O'Toole. See also 2016-6.


2016-8 NI - dodgy elections

A prediction:  PR-STV counts are sometimes askew: in Newsletter of May 4th, suggested the count could be odd.


And sure enough, it was.  So hence this correspondence today.


2016-7 BBC, Radio 4, at last!

John Humphrys, on Today, 2nd May. (Scottish) referendums: "the realm of the absurd."  So will the BBC, at last, talk about multi-option voting?


2016-6 Scotland. The question was a fix!

Scottish Affairs has just published this review of Scotland's 2014 referendum.  See also 2016-11, 2014-12, 2013-15, 2012-13/10/1, 2011-1.


2016-5 Ireland: Let the Dáil elect a Govt.

Perfect timing again.  The outcome of the Irish Times/DCU/deBorda/CiviQ matrix vote experiment on 23rd April, could hardly have been better: the result was proportional, most of the ministers were appointed to departments for which they were appropriate and, if it had been for real, it would have been the most gender-balanced Dáil ever!  So the Irish Times published this opinion piece on 22nd  -  http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/opinion-there-is-a-better-way-to-form-a-government-than-50-days-of-chaos-1.2619525  -  and this report of the event on 25th:  See also 2016-3.


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.

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