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Wikipedia describes the political process of 80 BC thus:

Near the end of 81 BC, Sulla, true to his traditionalist sentiments, resigned his dictatorship, disbanded his legions and re-established normal consular government. He also stood for (with Metellus Pius) and was elected consul for the following year, 80 BC. He dismissed his lictors and walked unguarded in the Forum, offering to give account of his actions to any citizen.

This sounds rather upright. But I am wondering, however, whether other candidates except Sulla and Metellus, his crony, were allowed to - or dared to - stand in that election. Is something known about this?

My suspicions are further heightened by this passage in Appian:

The following year Sulla, although he was dictator, undertook the consulship a second time, with Metellus Pius for his colleague, in order to preserve the pretence and form of democratic government. It is perhaps from this example that the Roman emperors appoint consuls for the country and even sometimes nominate themselves, considering it not unbecoming to hold the office of consul in connection with the supreme power.

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I read the book Rubicon by Thomas Holland and he states that anti-Sullans only dared to speak up after Sulla had already died. Perhaps the answer to your question is that everyone who dared to oppose Sulla had been killed by him, so there where de facto no potential other candidates. Romans either supported Metellus or kept their mouths shut. –  Jeroen K Oct 20 '13 at 19:22

2 Answers 2

During his dictatorship, candidates were appointed by Sulla for reasons of his own. I believe the elections of 79 BC were also restricted access.

In 78 AD, the consul Lepidus ran on a platform of reforming Sulla's changes and won the top spot. This was probably the first fully free election the Romans had in the post-Sullan period.

Plutarch's Life of Sulla

And to such an extent did he put more confidence in his good fortunes than in his achievements, that, although he had slain great numbers of the citizens, and introduced great innovations and changes in the government of the city, he laid down his office of dictator, and put the consular elections in the hands of the people; and when they were held, he did not go near them himself, but walked up and down the forum like a private man, exposing his person freely to all who wished to call him to account. Contrary to his wishes, a certain bold enemy of his was likely to be chosen consul, Marcus Lepidus, not through his own efforts, but owing to the success which Pompey had in soliciting votes for him from the people. And so, when Sulla saw Pompey going away from the polls delighted with his victory, he called him to him, and said: "What a fine victory this is of thine, young man, to elect Lepidus in preference to Catulus, the most unstable instead of the best of men!

So it is clear from this that the first election that Sulla did not enforce was Lepidus' victory.

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Refrences? Citations? –  Pieter Geerkens Jan 10 at 23:35
    
The quotes in the original post say that normal consular elections were not run before 80. Yet there were consuls. Sulla named them. Wiki even says Sulla was still dictator and appointed the consuls of 79. –  Oldcat Jan 10 at 23:46

I read the book Rubicon by Thomas Holland and he states that anti-Sullans only dared to speak up after Sulla had already died. Perhaps the answer to your question is that everyone who dared to oppose Sulla had been killed by him, so there where de facto no potential other candidates. Romans either supported Metellus or kept their mouths shut. – Jeroen K

This is absolutely correct. Adding to it Sulla killed over 400 "enemies of State" during the first 6 months of his rule. Metallus was actually well liked so there wasn't a whole lot to debate about his candidacy. However those who did oppose him tried to poison him. This failed.

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This needs cleaning up. It reads like a comment to comment instead of a stand alone answer. Will remove down-vote afterwards. –  LateralFractal Oct 23 '13 at 2:07
    
Metellus was also a close ally of Sulla, so his standing wouldn't change anything. –  Oldcat Jan 10 at 23:22

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