Democracy Center - National Flower. Sequential Choice

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Lýðræðissetrið Demokratisentret Democracy Center

Research and advice on methods of voting and election

In 2004 it was decided which flower should be the National Flower of Iceland, based on a public opinion poll held by Landvernd, the Icelandic Environment Association, and the newspaper Morgunblaðið. The project was managed by representatives of four ministries, but the actual work was carried out by Landvernd. The poll was done online during October 1-15 by use of ballots printed in Morgunblaðið. The result was announced in the presence of the President and the Minister of Agriculture. The total votes cast were 7025, of which 6919 were valid. The voting method applied was sequential choice; voters were to express their choice by ranking seven given flowers on a scale from one to seven.

The winner was mountain avens, receiving 21,943 points, closely followed by field forget-me-not (21,802) and arctic thyme (21,385 points). Wood cranesbill was also immensely popular (19,243 points). White cottongrass, silene acaulis and common thrift received fewer votes.

In the spring of 2004 twenty suggestions for a national flower were put forth. After a summer-long deliberation period and after receiving a number of views submitted by the schools, the choice was narrowed down to the above seven species. At that stage Landvernd’s manager pointed out that applying sequential choice would be the best solution as otherwise it would not at all be easy to interpret the result of the opinion survey. The task force agreed, and even though the three top flowers came out with almost the same number of points, the final outcome has enjoyed recognition far and wide.

Landvernd’s manager, who consulted the manager of the Democracy Center for advice, concludes that the recommendations he received were crucial for arriving at this solution that has won such wide recognition. Landvernd’s decision to apply sequential choice when selecting the National Flower of Iceland is indeed seen as a reinforcement of the Democracy Center’s reputation. The software for the calculation was provided by Morgunblaðið.