Majority Rule is Archaic

A Notwestminster 2017 workshop from Peter Emerson

It’s useful if you have a smartphone for taking part in this workshop – but please still come along if you’re interested and you don’t have a smartphone with you on the day.

Peter will also be asking for two participants to help out with the practical exercise.
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Majority voting is the most ancient and inaccurate measure of collective opinion ever invented. It was (or is) part of the problem in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Rwanda, Syria and Ukraine.

In a plural society, debates on contentious problems should allow all relevant options to be ‘on the table’ and a (short) list on the ballot paper.

The Modified Borda Count, MBC, identifies the option with the highest average preference. An average involves every voter, not just a majority of them. If votes were based on the MBC, governments would be all-party power-sharing coalitions.

Inclusive voting procedures are a vital component of effective power-sharing.

This workshop will aim to demonstrate the potential of inclusive voting.

Participants will be able to choose options and then use their smart phones to vote electronically, by MBC, on one simple and one contentious issue. The mathematics of the MBC encourages voters to cast a full ballot – to acknowledge the validity of other options.

No-one votes AGAINST. Everyone votes (in order of preference) FOR.

Participants will then take part in a third exercise to learn how a newly elected parliament would elect a proportional, power-sharing government –  a “government of national unity” – by a matrix vote, deciding how they might co-operate with others.

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Peter Emerson

Peter Emerson
Director, The de Borda Institute

Peter Emerson, the child of an Irish Protestant father and an English Catholic mother, describes himself as “a political bastard”. He says: “Politics, after all, is either-or… majoritarian politics that is. A plural democracy, however, should allow for a plurality of ideas, both in debate and on the ballot paper!”

In 1985, outside Belfast City Hall, Paisley shouted “Ulster says NO!” So one week later, Peter and a few friends stood at the same spot, in silence, with a banner: “We have got to say ‘yes’ to something.”

Kirklees Democracy Commission
Kirklees Democracy Commission

All our Notwestminster 2017 workshops are based on themes that have been inspired by discussions with citizens, as part of the Kirklees Democracy Commission.

This workshop is inspired by…

Citizen-led local democracy

Notwestminster 2017 workshops list