Corporatism and Consensus in Florentine Electoral Politics, by John M. Najemy

By John M. Najemy

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August the election was entrusted to the Captain, the priors, the outgoing Fourteen, and two arroti from each of the sesti, to be appointed by the Council of the People. Only one of five speakers mentioned the guild consuls, but he made a startling proposal that would have placed the election in the hands of the consuls of no fewer than thirty-two 6 . , pp. , pp. 71-72) shows that the consuls of each of the seven guilds nominated three candidates, two Guelfs and one Ghibelline. There were thus twentyone nomination slots, which resulted in the actual nomination of only thirteen persons, several being nominated by more than one guild.

18 Corporatism and Consensus in Florentine Electoral Politics in power sought to adapt the methods and results of the bimonthly selection of priors to their own particular aims. The frequent debates and modifications of the electoral system were in fact a reflection of the spontaneous vitality of Florentine politics in this formative period. Indeed the very survival of the priorate, in the still far from stable political conditions of late thirteenth- and early fourteenth-century Florence, would scarcely have been possible without the creative flexibility of a rapidly evolving electoral system that was responsive to the competing aspirations of rival social and political forces.

Support for the popular party was distributed throughout a greater number of guilds, so that the loss of electoral influence represented by any one guild would have been of only marginal importance. Dino Pecora's electoral proposals, like those of Lotto Ardenghi a decade earlier, were a clear and simple expression of the basic principles of Florentine guild republicanism. The fundamental assumptions of his electoral plan were that the twelve guilds should share equally in the priorate and that the responsibility for the election be divided evenly and independently among them.

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