The “preferendum”, a new way of voting?


With the latest protest movements, freedom of speech in democrocy is more important than ever. Emmanuel Macron, the French President, could put forward a referendum to French people before the European elections. The french organization “Mieux voter” suggests that this referendum could be replaced by the “preferendum”. But what is it? And how does that work?

What is preferendum? How does it work?

Today, the voting system is binary. Voters can only choose between “yes” and “no” in a referendum, and choose only one candidate in an election. This model works on the basis of simple majority. On the contrary, the preferendum proposes to assess the proposals with a number of options: “to reject”, “poor”, “fair”, “good” and “excellent”. The idea is to be able to assess concretely an idea or a candidate. Citizens can give factual and objective opinions on each proposal. Thanks to this system, voters express themselves on each candidate, which favours the emergence of consensus.

If the preferendum is more representative of French people opinion, it’s not the only one to promote collective opinion.

The Condorcet method, for more consensus

Préférendum - Condorcet

Nicolas de Condorcet (1743 – 1794) is an
18th century philosopher and mathematician. He conducted research to define a voting theory which is more coherent with the people’s will. He said that “if there is a candidate who, when confronted with any other candidate, is preferred to that other candidate by a majority of voters, then that candidate is the preferred choice of the people.”

So the Condorcet voting method was born. This system confronts each candidate with each other. And the one who wins over each other is the winner. Voters rank candidates according to their opinions and when counting, the results are organized by duel between each proposal. Therefore, the winner is more legitimate.

To find out more, you can read our previous article on the Condorcet voting method:

Read also on our blog

Condorcet voting method

Instant Agora, a solution for balanced opinion polling

Today, Open Agora doesn’t want to propose a solution for a national referendum. But, we offer a tool that meets the characteristics of the preferendum: Instant Agora. Instant Agora allows the expression of balanced opinions through the Condorcet method. Our tool classifies proposals according to these preferences. Then, Instant Agora synthesizes all these opinions to establish a ranking of collective preferences. In that respect, all voters are satisfied.

Carte électorale

If this system was applied to presidential elections, the results could be quite different. The most extreme candidates would have more divided results and therefore, little chance of being elected. At the same time, more central candidates would have a better chance of winning because they were appreciated by voters from all sides.

This method would satisfy more voters. It’s fairer, particularly for the first round of elections, because it’s not the majority that counts but the collective preference. The winners would have more legitimacy because they would suit the vast majority.

In short, the French attachment to these democratic values is no longer to be proved. The Citizen Initiative Referendum in particular has been mentioned in recent weeks. The preferendum can be a good solution to give more room to French people opinion. Our Instant Agora tool is based on the same principle as the preferendum: consensus.

More: we have just implemented the majority judgment system, which is based on the vote by rating. We just experimented it during the staging of the trial of a robot, at the 2019 Festival Transfo in Grenoble, where the public was called upon to pronounce on the guilt of several defendants. This great experience will soon be the subject of an article on our blog.

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