Democracy without political parties: the case of ancient Athens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Political parties, formal, durable and mass organizations that inform voters on public policy issues, nominate candidates for office and fight elections for the right to govern, are ubiquitous in modern representative democracies but were absent from the direct participatory democracy of ancient Athens. The paper investigates how the political institutions of Athens may explain their absence. The arguments explored include voter homogeneity; the conditions at the start of the democracy, characterized by single constituency configuration of the demos, simple majority voting and lack of organized groups; the irrelevance of holding public office for determining public policy; appointment to public posts through sortition; and voting on single-dimension issues. The paper then discusses how in the absence of parties voters became informed and how political leaders were held accountable by the courts.

LanguageEnglish
JournalJournal of Institutional Economics
Early online date30 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 May 2019

Fingerprint

Public policy
Athens
Political parties
Voters
Democracy
Participatory democracy
Homogeneity
Representative democracy
Elections
Vote
Majority voting
Voting
Durables
Political institutions

Keywords

  • Direct Democracy; Ancient Athens; Absence of Political Parties; Public Office; Elections; Sortition
  • absence of political parties
  • public office
  • ancient Athens
  • sortition
  • elections
  • Direct democracy

Cite this

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