Constitutional Choice in Ancient Athens: The Rationality of Selection to Office by Lot

28 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2011

See all articles by George Tridimas

George Tridimas

University of Ulster - School of Economics

Date Written: August 24, 2011

Abstract

Contrary to modern democracies ancient Athens appointed large numbers of government officers by lot. After describing the Athenian arrangements, the paper reviews the literature on the choice between election and lot focusing on representativeness of the population, distributive justice, minimization of conflicts, quality of appointees and administrative economy. It then examines why in drawing up the constitution a self-interested citizen may give up voting for government officials and appoint them by lot. It is shown that appointment by lot is preferred when the effort required to choose candidates is less than the benefit expected from their actions as government officials. It is also found that, given the choice, office motivated candidates may unanimously agree to selection by lot but not to election.

Keywords: Constitutional choice, Ancient Athens, Appointment to office by lot, Election

JEL Classification: D70, D72, D74, N40, N43

Suggested Citation

Tridimas, George, Constitutional Choice in Ancient Athens: The Rationality of Selection to Office by Lot (August 24, 2011). Constitutional Political Economy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1916053

George Tridimas (Contact Author)

University of Ulster - School of Economics ( email )

Shore Road
Newtownabbey
Co Antrim, Northern Ireland BT37 0QB BT37 0QB
United Kingdom

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