How democratic was the Roman Republic?By: Jonathan & Albert

Thesis Statment


The Roman Republic had a government that was close to democracy, but still wasn't an ideal one, as the citizens had the right to vote but had limitations, the government was balanced among three branches, and the government had many protections against potential abuses

Right to vote with limitations on gender


A republican form of government was observed in Rome, at that particular point in time, where only male citizens had the right to elect their leaders. There was a limitation enforced, closely akin to the Athenian version, as women, slaves, and people who had no formal Roman citizenship, were not entitled to cast votes nor allowed to enter the political arena. This pattern of rule shows that the Romans had a faint concept of a democracy, but an ideal democratic government was not yet fully in place.


Maintaining balance among the three branches of government

Abandoning the previous rules by a monarchy and an aristocracy, the ancient Romans strove to achieve a certain degree of balance within the government among its three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. In the Executive branch, two officials were formally elected to the posts of consuls, who acted like kings, for they commanded the army and directly controlled the government. In the Legislative branch, there were the Senate and the Assemblies, whose 300 members were the most powerful people in the Republic, as they were chosen from the higher class of the country and were awarded the functions of drafting and enacting laws for the common people. As for the Judicial branch, eight judges were picked to lead and preside over the provinces. This specific style greatly illustrates the desire by the Romans to preserve a stable government, seeking a more democratic way of administration.


Well balanced and with many protections against potential abuses

By not abusing the authority, Rome constituted an administrational framework for the city. With these protections, democracy could thereby be fulfilled. For example, every office and officers came from election and had limited tenure. To consolidate the efficiency of the officials, they could control each other not to be greedy or embezzled. They also couldn't hold two jobs at a same time. Besides protecting the administration, Roman democracy also cared about the Plebeians.There was a meeting (concilium plebis) for them to elect plebeian tribunes and other officers so that poor people could counterbalance the senate. The written down law, or the Twelve Tables, not only secured different groups of people's rights but also showed their how the democracy was in operation.



Pictures

1)
senate
senate

Right to vote with limitations on gender
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2)

See full size image
See full size image


Maintaining balance among the three branches of government
<https://resourcesforhistoryteachers.wikispaces.com/7.38+Roots+of+Western+Civ.>

3)
Twelve Tables:  All
Twelve Tables: All
Well balanced with protections against potential abuses<http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrjennings/sets/1352195/>

References (Noodle Tools):


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