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Original scientific paper

The Electoral Procedure in the Republic of Dubrovnik

Nella Lonza

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The author reconstructs the electoral procedure within the Major Council of the Republic of Dubrovnik, beginning with problems related to the formalities of summoning the councilors and questions of quorum. The first stage of the procedure consisted of the nomination of candidates. Nomination for all important functions was carried out by nominating committees, which were selected by lot, while candidates for lesser offices were nominated directly by individual councilors. The ballots were cast in specially designed urns, in order to guarantee secrecy. For a candidate to be elected to an important post, a majority vote of the whole Great Council was required, whereas in other cases it was sufficient for the nominee simply to collect more affirmative votes than his rivals. This paper discusses several measures disigned to guarantee fair procedure. These included measures the counterfeiting of ballots, measures against corrupt elections (broglio), measures designed to ensure the secrecy of a vote, etc. Finally, the electoral reforms of the eighteenth century are presented and analyzed. It is obvious that the Ragusan method of election was heavily influenced by the Venetian system, since the former was in many practical details merely a copy of the latter. Some elements of the Ragusan procedure may have originated in the period when Dubrovnik was under Venetian rule (until 1358), while others were obviously adopted later on, in spite of the political antagonism which existed between the two republics. However, electoral practices in Dubrovnik were rather different from those of Venice. Although Dubrovnik sources mention some cases of corruption and fraud, they do not indicate that this phenomenon was as common as it was in Venice. A com parison between the institutions, as well as between the patriciate of the two states, shows clearly why Dubrovnik did not witness such a struggle for offices as that which dominated Venetian political life.


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