Where was democracy the most in ancient times?

Was there more democracy in ancient Athens or in the Roman Republic?

Was there more democracy in ancient Athens or in the Roman Republic?

The Athenians came closest to our expectations of democracy.

Certainly, only prosperous free men—10-20 percent of the city-state’s population—had the right to vote. Thus, women, slaves and immigrants were not allowed to vote.

These citizens could attend mass meetings, where they enjoyed freedom of speech and could propose legal reforms.

The politician Pericles delivers his famous eulogy for the fallen Athenians in the first year of the Peloponnesian War, 431-430 BC. The incident is recorded by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides.

At such meetings, the offices of the city-state were distributed once a year – usually by lot or direct election.

The influence of individual citizens was less important in the Roman Empire.

The republic was formed to prevent individuals from usurping power and was characterized by organized parties that looked after each other’s interests.

Citizens were divided by class and the top class was much more influential than the lower ones. The poor thus had little to contribute.

Democracy or Republic

  • Anyone could submit a proposal for a law.
  • Citizens voted as individuals.
  • Hikkesti determined the official structure.
One citizen, one vote

Athens was governed by mass meetings of all citizens, a council of 500 and courts. In all three areas, the cases were decided by a majority of votes and all votes had the same weight.

  • The Senate formulated the law.
  • Citizens voted in parties.
  • Standing committees distributed offices.
The Senate took power

In Rome, power blocs were supposed to keep each other in check. But the unelected senate towered over others. The Romans voted in parties, and the weight of the upper class was the greatest.

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