Constraining Elites: The Self-Enforcing Constitution of the Patricians of Venice

29 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2016 Last revised: 21 Feb 2017

See all articles by Daniel J. Smith

Daniel J. Smith

Political Economy Research Institute and Department of Economics and Finance at Middle Tennessee State University

Rania Al-Bawwab

Political Economy Research Institute and Department of Economics and Finance at Middle Tennessee State University

Date Written: February 15, 2017

Abstract

Can elites with access to governing institutions be constitutionally constrained? Effective constitutional constraints must be self-enforcing. This represents a substantial barrier to economic development, especially when elites control governing institutions. This paper analyzes how late Middle Age and Renaissance era Venice achieved economic prosperity despite being ruled by elite patricians. We argue that Venetian constitutional constraints, including the dispersion of power, complicated electoral procedures, term limits, and oaths of office, were self-enforcing because of mechanisms that incentivized elites to monitor and constrain one another.

Keywords: Constitutions, Constraints, Elites, Venice

JEL Classification: H1, 043, P48, N43

Suggested Citation

Smith, Daniel J. and Al-Bawwab, Rania, Constraining Elites: The Self-Enforcing Constitution of the Patricians of Venice (February 15, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2851157 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2851157

Daniel J. Smith (Contact Author)

Political Economy Research Institute and Department of Economics and Finance at Middle Tennessee State University ( email )

MTSU Box 190
1301 E. Main St.
Murfreesboro, TN 37132-0001
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.danieljosephsmith.com/

Rania Al-Bawwab

Political Economy Research Institute and Department of Economics and Finance at Middle Tennessee State University ( email )

MTSU Box 190
1301 E. Main St.
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
United States
3373829397 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.mtsu.edu/peri/phd-fellows.php

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