Election a Problem Solver in Ancient Greece

Athenians used a democratic system known as Ostracism. It was used by the people to break a deadlock between two politicians. A vote was conducted, winner would stay on and the loser will be exiled. Every year beginning from the fifth century BC Athenians had to vote whether they wanted Ostracism. If the general masses voted “yes” then there would be another vote in which the people scratched the name of the person they wanted to get rid of on a piece of pottery. If a person was voted for by over 6000 people then he would be sent into exile for ten years. This was one of the amicable ways to solve political disputes.


Ostracism was a problem solver in Ancient Greece

Such voting policies are apparent from the discovery of about 200 Ostraka in well of Athens with the name Themistocles written on them. But this system was manipulative. Most of the general masses in Athens were illiterate thus they used etched Ostrakons created by someone else. At the end they might have mislead to vote for a politicians whom the aristocrats wanted out. Though elections were started as a democratic process but soon a different sort of rigging started taking place. It was more of a propaganda to take care of people speaking against the ruling class.


Name of politician masses wanted out was etched on Ostrakons

But this voting system using the Ostrakons worked well for almost a hundred years. Then there was three cornered fight in 415 BC involving a person named Hyperbolus. Hyperbolus was up against two shrewd politicians Nicias and Alcibiades. His competitors ganged up together and got rid of Hyperbolus, But Hyperbolus was a popular figure in Athens. His exile stopped the practice of such voting.

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