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Even more, how were Cato's enemies able to determine who to eject, if the ballot was secret, according to the lex Gabinia Tabellaria?

If you look at the passage quoted above, it becomes clear--they ejected members where Cato's support was most probable, which was in the higher classes. The strategy would be analogous to throwing out the votes of New Yorkers in a presidential election between a senator from New York and a representative from Texas. Note too that in later elections where bribery was no less rampant but where force was not used, Cato succeeded in winning the praetorship.

You said it : probable. You can never be sure of each vote. Exactly the same problem as with the bribes, as long as the vote was secret. Lex Maria was proposed because this was not always the case, and it was rejected to preserve the same situation.

Your second aseveration is more interesting to me, because Cato was not an isolated case; in fact, it was very common that defeated candidates won the inmediately subsequent election. I have no good explanation for that and I would like to know your opinion.

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Then, we would also have to assume that killing enemies on battles had an real effect on war from the mere fact that knowledgeable warriors made such killings. Obviously, this is a not so silly inference.

Actually, it IS a silly inference. The reason to think that killing enemies had a real--as opposed to symbolic--effect on war is NOT that knowledgeable warriors made such killings. The reason to think that killing enemies has an effect on war is that wars end when there are no enemies left to fight (if not sooner); therefore, killing enemies has an effect on war.

 

it's not so easy to find today's empirical evidence that electoral bribery has no real effect on the electoral results.

We've been over this before, but I'll repeat it again: it is impossible to prove a negative. Therefore, it's impossible to find evidence that bribery has NO effect.

 

"If massive electoral bribery is hard to account for in an 'oligarchic assembly', should we not conclude that the assembly was less oligarchic than is often thought, rather than doubt the testimony of the sources?" (p.25).

Yakobson makes a good point about oligarchy, but it has nothing to do with this discussion.

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You said it : probable. You can never be sure of each vote. Exactly the same problem as with the bribes, as long as the vote was secret.

It's not exactly the same because a market for a good (e.g., votes) requires that sellers (e.g., voters) reliably deliver the goods. If I can't be sure that you'll actually vote for L. Candidatus Unscrupulus when I pay you to do so, I have no incentive to pay you. This is why I say that bribery was irrational.

 

Your second obseveration is more interesting to me, because Cato was not an isolated case; in fact, it was very common that defeated candidates won the inmediately subsequent election. I have no good explanation for that and I would like to know your opinion.

Lots of reasons--improved resumes, worse competitors, changes in electoral rules, changes in application of electoral rules, etc.

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Besides, probably the concept of ambitus goes beyond our concept of bribery, including also other concepts like voters interference and coertion.

In terms of its outcome, coercion is a different matter--if voters are coerced in some way (e.g., prevented from attending the election), it has a huge effect on the outcome of the election. This is why I think that political violence is a much more serious issue than bribery (given a secret ballot, that is).

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Besides, probably the concept of ambitus goes beyond our concept of bribery, including also other concepts like voters interference and coertion.

In terms of its outcome, coercion is a different matter--if voters are coerced in some way (e.g., prevented from attending the election), it has a huge effect on the outcome of the election. This is why I think that political violence is a much more serious issue than bribery (given a secret ballot, that is).

I'm really sorry I don't have a translation of Cicero De Legibus III, XVII; but we can always rely on PP (your UNRV's link):

"119 (BC) Lex Maria Tabellaria By tribune C. Marius, a voting law that restricted the size of passages to ballot boxes probably in order to reduce corruption/bribery and insure free voting." (sic: "Pontes etiam lex Maria fecit angustos.").

Smith's Dictionary adds: "it contained a clause for making the pontes narrower which led into the septa or inclosures where the people voted; but as its object seems to have been to prevent intimidation on the part of the nobles, it was strongly opposed by the senate."

 

Even if I have access only to the first page, A Lintott's Electoral Bribery in the Roman Republic may help us not only by analyzing the status of bribery on Roman politics, but also with the meaning of ambitus, related both to ambitio and, most significantly, to "ambire" ("to go around", a relative of English "Ambulate"). Therefore, ambitus apparently implies walking around and among the voters while they were voting, with the obvious resultant compromise of secrecy. That's why the Lex Maria was rejected and so fiercely opposed by the aristocrats.

 

Roman electoral bribery and coertion were most probably within a continuum, both sides of the same coin: Ambitus.

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A Lintott's Electoral Bribery in the Roman Republic may help us not only by analyzing the status of bribery on Roman politics, but also with the meaning of ambitus, related both to ambitio and, most significantly, to "ambire" ("to go around", a relative of English "Ambulate"). Therefore, ambitus apparently implies walking around and among the voters while they were voting, with the obvious resultant compromise of secrecy. That's why the Lex Maria was rejected and so fiercely opposed by the aristocrats.

 

The Lex Maria was a Plebiscitum and was therefore ratified by the people. It was opposed by the senate, not rejected. (Per the post in the Legal Chronology thread.)

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A Lintott's Electoral Bribery in the Roman Republic may help us not only by analyzing the status of bribery on Roman politics, but also with the meaning of ambitus, related both to ambitio and, most significantly, to "ambire" ("to go around", a relative of English "Ambulate"). Therefore, ambitus apparently implies walking around and among the voters while they were voting, with the obvious resultant compromise of secrecy. That's why the Lex Maria was rejected and so fiercely opposed by the aristocrats.

 

The Lex Maria was a Plebiscitum and was therefore ratified by the people. It was opposed by the senate, not rejected. (Per the post in the Legal Chronology thread.)

Touche. Gratiam habeo.

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Oh the irony, in a lot of threads i start or read there is usually a senatorial style banter between ASCLEPIADES and MPC ;)

 

Anyway, in 2nd century bc how would one subtly bribe someone?

 

vtc

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Anyway, in 2nd century bc how would one subtly bribe someone?

 

Hire an agent. The agent will pay precinct captains, who will know the individual voters and will check on their reliability to vote as directed. For best results, hire an agent that doesn't also work for your competition. When a voter gets a bribe from both sides, the results tend to be ... democratic.

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Actually, it IS a silly inference. The reason to think that killing enemies had a real--as opposed to symbolic--effect on war is NOT that knowledgeable warriors made such killings. The reason to think that killing enemies has an effect on war is that wars end when there are no enemies left to fight (if not sooner); therefore, killing enemies has an effect on war.

Lucky you. I am no warrior, so I haven't been able to empirically prove that statement,

 

We've been over this before, but I'll repeat it again: it is impossible to prove a negative. Therefore, it's impossible to find evidence that bribery has NO effect.

Nope, nope: I am trying to disprove a positive (that bribery has any effect on the election result). Remember Karl Popper. In fact, my previous statement was that it's easy to find evidence that sacrifices have no effects on agriculture results; you had no apparent problem with that one. And yes, maybe we have been over this before.

 

Yakobson makes a good point about oligarchy, but it has nothing to do with this discussion.

That may be because your quoting of my quotation on Yakobson is incomplete (we've been over this before). If you put at the beginnig that part of "The prevalence of bribery speaks to the importance of the vote of non-wealthy individuals.", it probably makes more sense. And yes, I also find interesting Yakobson's point about oligarchy.

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We've been over this before, but I'll repeat it again: it is impossible to prove a negative. Therefore, it's impossible to find evidence that bribery has NO effect.
Nope, nope: I am trying to disprove a positive (that bribery has any effect on the election result).

 

OK, I see where you're coming from. In that case, the critical evidence comes from whether there were electoral victories of non-bribers over bribers (or light bribers over heavy bribers).

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It's not exactly the same because a market for a good (e.g., votes) requires that sellers (e.g., voters) reliably deliver the goods. If I can't be sure that you'll actually vote for L. Candidatus Unscrupulus when I pay you to do so, I have no incentive to pay you. This is why I say that bribery was irrational.

OK, two points:

- I still see the same uncertainty problem for both electoral strategies; you may expel and/or deny bribes to voters for your own candidate, or the inverse.

- Once again; you may be right (and you may eventually prove it); many notorious Roman politicians had been wasting money, time and playing like idiots for centuries, waiting for us to tell them how the things should have been done. But idiocy is not commonly considered one of the characteristic traits of the Roman politicians, as far as I know. Therefore, it might seem right if we first explore some alternative explanations (vg, the ballot was not so secret after all, even after 138 BC).

 

Lots of reasons--improved resumes, worse competitors, changes in electoral rules, changes in application of electoral rules, etc.

Mnnn. Maybe we should return to that in another thread, at least for the most remarkable cases, such as that of M. Aemilius Lepidus or L. Aemilius Paullus.

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it might seem right if we first explore some alternative explanations (vg, the ballot was not so secret after all, even after 138 BC).

Roman coins depict the procedure of balloting, and it looks quite modern in conception. The voter enters an area that has been screened off from view, drops a ballot in a container, and then he exits the area so the next voter can proceed to vote. The fact that secrecy really was assured is attested by Cicero, who complains bitterly about the secrecy of the ballot by remarking that it permits shameful votes.

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Anyway, in 2nd century bc how would one subtly bribe someone?

Salve, VTC!

 

If you were really subtle, you probably went on unnoticed (and unreported).

In a previous post on this same thread (#5) I quote two reported cases of ambitus, one suspected (Marius) and one overt (Vetidius), this last one far from subtle.

 

Anyway, the specifically forbidden acts and conducts by the respective legislation might give us some clues, for we can reasonably infer that was exactly what the candidates were trying; these laws were progressively more restricting:

 

- Lex Pinaria et Furia et Postumia from 322 AUC (432 BC) for

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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Salve, MPC!

 

I was checking your thread of March 2006 about the stereotypical symptoms of the triumvirate period, as you suggested me.

 

The third symptom is "Intense electoral competition leading to secret pacts, bribery, and corruption".

 

-Were you thinking in ambitus or in non-electoral bribery?

 

-Even if ambitus was not effective, was its frequency related to the coming of the triumvires?

 

-How can we compare the frequency of these conditions between diverse periods of the Republic?

 

Thanks in advance.

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