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The election of the Doge of the Republic of Venice

Historical Curiosities

The election of the Doge of the Republic of Venice

If in these days of the election campaign it seems that the Italian voting system is very complex, then it's a bit like electing a doge of the Republic of Venice! 

The Great Council came together and put in an urn the ballots of all the councilors who were older than 30. The youngest councilor went to St Mark's Square and chose the first boy he met who drew from the urn a ballot for each councillor and only those 30 who got the word ‘elector' remained in the room. The 30 ballots were then placed back in the box and only 9 contained a ticket, so the 30 were reduced to 9, who gathered in a sort of conclave, during which, with the favourable vote of at least seven of them, they had to indicate the name of 40 councillors.

With the system of ballots  containing a ticket, the 40 were reduced to 12; these, with the favourable vote of at least 9 of them, elected 25 others, which were reduced again to 9 who would elect another 45 with at least 7 votes in favour. The 45, again at random, were reduced to 11, who with at least nine votes in favour elected another 41 that finally would be the real electors of Doge.

These 41 gathered in a special room where each one cast a piece of paper into an urn with a name. One of them was extracted at random. Voters could then make their objections, if any, and charges against the chosen one, who was then called to respond and provide any justification. After listening to him, they preceded to a new election, if the candidate obtained the favourable vote of at least 25 votes out of 41, he was proclaimed Doge, if they were unable to obtain these votes a new extraction took place until the outcome was positive.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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