I was fascinated by a passage in Thomas F. Madden's Venice: a New History describing the complex process used to elect the doge of Venice. This process is explained briefly here:

Wikipedia: Doge of Venice - Selection of the Doge

Thirty members of the Great Council, chosen by lot, were reduced by lot to nine; the nine chose forty and the forty were reduced by lot to twelve, who chose twenty-five. The twenty-five were reduced by lot to nine and the nine elected forty-five. Then the forty-five were once more reduced by lot to eleven, and the eleven finally chose the forty-one who actually elected the doge. None could be elected but by at least twenty-five votes out of forty-one, nine votes out of eleven or twelve, or seven votes out of nine electors

This passage does not include some elements of the proces mentioned by Madden, such as the interesting presentation and voting on the nominations for doge by the final 41, the automatic exclusion of relations from remaining draws once someone is chosen by the lot, or the use of small wax balls with parchment inside for the lot drawing process.

There is also more detail in a paper cited in the Wikipedia posting found here:

Electing the Doge of Venice: analysis of a 13th Century protocol (PDF)

My question is whether the Venetian system inspired similar systems in other states or political bodies (let us say, before the 19th century) or were there other similar multi-stage selection processes for positions in other contemporary or early cases?

Here by cases, let us be flexible, as there are not a lot of republics etc. around. It might include voting process for council positions, guild leadership, etc. I especially welcome well-sourced answers.

  • 2
    There are actually quite a few republics. (Note, not all of those are still existing)
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 21:17
  • 2
    Thanks @American Luke - That is a great link. It depends on what we mean by "quite a few" and by "republic" but that is a fantastic starting point for a potential answer (and lots of interesting cases there I'd never heard of, like the fascinating republic of Cospaia). I only meant "not a lot" relative to the huge number of non-republics out in the early modern period.
    – kmlawson
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 22:15
  • I started to look for systems bases on sortition and the Wikipedia article has an interesting sentence: "The Doge of Venice was determined through a complex process of nomination, voting and sortition." I think that a good starting point could be to use this three concepts in a search (I would do it but I'm busy today, I hope it helps). en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sortition Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


Here is an example of another very complex appointment process. Angelo N. Ancheta in his paper "Redistricting Reform and the California Citizens Redistricting Commission" described the process of selecting commissioners thus:

The selection process for the Commission is also carefully structured to limit partisanship and to check institutional power. The process requires the creation of an independent Applicant Review Panel composed of staff from the Bureau of State Audits, a state agency that serves as an independent auditor of the state’s financial and operational activities. The Panel, which must be composed of one Democrat, one Republican, and one member of neither party, must screen applications in order to reduce the applicant pool down to sixty candidates (twenty Democrats, twenty Republicans, and twenty of neither party). These sixty individuals are the most qualified applicants based on “relevant analytical skills, ability to be impartial, and appreciation for California’s diverse demographics and geography.” Once the pool is reduced to sixty candidates, the four legislative leaders—the Speaker of the Assembly, the Assembly Minority Floor Leader, the Senate President Pro Tempore, and the Senate Minority Floor Leader—can remove up to two applicants from each of the three subpools.... The remaining candidates are then placed into a lottery, where three Democrats, three Republicans, and two from neither party are chosen from a randomized selection process. This group comprises the first eight members of the Commission. The eight then choose the remaining six to form the full fourteen-member commission.

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