View Full Version : Where and when did the first democratic election for a government occur?

03-30-2004, 04:24 PM
Where and when, in history, did the first democratic election for a government occur? Probably simple, but can't find it :confused:

Exapno Mapcase
03-30-2004, 04:48 PM
This depends greatly on how you are defining democracy.

The Greek city/states had democratic elections, but voting was limited to "citizens" who were a subset of the native adult males. Women, slaves, emigrants, and others were barred.

I'm not sure when the franchise was first extended to virtually everyone of proper age, as is more or less the case in the U.S. today. Some of the territories allowed women to vote by the 1870s, by which time land ownership had been eliminated as a pre-requisite for voting and blacks also legally had the right to vote. I'll bet Chinese couldn't vote, though.

ITR champion
03-30-2004, 07:13 PM
Democracy in Greek literally means rule of the citizen body rather than rule of the people. Many people would say that the first true democracy was the Mideival government of Iceland, which worked by a parlimentary system.

The Alțingi was assembled outdoors every summer for a two week period at Țingvellir, not far from Reykjavik, and the seed was planted for the Icelandic democracy. During the two week session, laws were created and disputes that had not been settled in one of IcelandŽs many district courts were resolved. The Alțingi was the vanguard of what has been called the Icelandic free-state, which lasted from 930 to 1262. It was a period when every free man could get his voice heard and major disputes were settled by the book rather than by the sword.

From here:

There are many examples in different times and places even before the modern era where some degree of local political power was held by a tribal council of some sort where every adult man was supposed to be allowed to speak. This was true through much of Scandinavia.