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Romans Responsible for Politics and Democracy

Posted On 2013-09-02

Romans Responsible for Politics and Democracy

Democracy is one of most popular forms of public administration followed in some of the leading countries of the world today. India is the largest democracy and it uses elected representatives to voice and address the needs and concerns of its billions of citizens.

 

Origin of democracy

 

• The system of democracy is believed to have originated in Athens in Greece.

• Athens first had a king. Then the state was ruled by nobles. It was in the 6th century BC that statesman Solon created four new kinds of citizenship.

 

• All adult free males were considered citizens and all citizens had the right to vote in the assembly or government body. • Citizens of the three higher classes could also hold public office.

 

• However, democracy was limited at that time as women, slaves and foreign nationals did not come under the category of citizens.

 

• A hundred years after Solon, Cleisthenes, a leader, allowed all citizens to add laws on passage and debate and created a council of randomly chosen members.

 

• It was during the Golden Age of Greece, that democracy got a more refined face. Pericles gave more power to democracy by increasing the number of paid government employees, enabling poor citizens to secure employment with the government.

 

• He also introduced the idea of direct democracy, wherein citizens could directly deal with the state. This bypassed citizen representatives.

 

As the Golden Age of Greece faded and the Roman Empire rose to its peak of glory, the republican element of Rome was integrated into the public administration system

 

Influence of Romans

 

• Rome was a republic where citizens had the right to vote and choose their leaders.

• However, in Rome too only free adult males were considered citizens.

• The republican government of Rome consisted to a Senate that had two assemblies.

• The Senate was the most powerful form of government and had Senators who only came from the group of land-owning aristocrats called Patricians.

• The Senators elected two consuls who would take care of the daily management of the government and the Army. • These consuls were similar to the President, but had a service term of only one year.

• Some of the most important Roman laws that have influenced modern day democracies include:

 

o All citizens were considered equal and had the right to equal treatment

o A citizen would be considered innocent until proved guilty-This influenced the judicial system of the USA.

o The onus of producing proof rests on the shoulders of the accuser than the accused.

o Any law that seemed unfair could be set aside.

 

Problems arose in Rome due to the difference in power in the two assemblies. The lower assembly consisting of the Plebians did not have much power and had to depend on the Patricians to make any changes.

 

Attempts to reform Roman laws later ended in Civil Wars. The Republican form of government that had developed over the years gave into the victory of Monarchy. However, the end of the Pax Romana marked the end of democracy in Rome.


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