The 9 fundamental principles common to all democracies

As highlighted by Aristotle, Politics 1317b 19 – 1318a 3. translated by H. Rackham. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1944.


A. Eligibility for election in State offices

1. election of officials by all from all

(τὸ αἱρεῖσθαι τὰς ἀρχὰς πάντας ἐκ πάντων)

2. government of each by all, and of all by each in turn

(τὸ ἄρχειν πάντας μὲν ἑκάστου ἕκαστον δ᾽ ἐν μέρει πάντων)

3. judicial functions to be exercised by all citizens, that is by persons selected from all, and on all matters, or on most and the greatest and most important, for instance the audit of official accounts, constitutional questions, private contracts

(τὸ δικάζειν πάντας καὶ ἐκ πάντων, καὶ περὶ πάντων, ἢ περὶ τῶν πλείστων καὶ τῶν μεγίστων καὶ τῶν κυριωτάτων, οἷον περὶ εὐθυνῶν καὶ πολιτείας καὶ τῶν ἰδίων συναλλαγμάτων)

4. no property-qualification for office, or only a very low one

(τὸ μὴ ἀπὸ τιμήματος μηθενὸς εἶναι τὰς ἀρχὰς ἢ ὅτι μικροτάτου)

B. Type of election

5. election by lot either to all magistracies or to all that do not need experience and skill

(τὸ κληρωτὰς εἶναι τὰς ἀρχὰς ἢ πάσας ἢ ὅσαι μὴ ἐμπειρίας δέονται καὶ τέχνης)

C. Duration of term in State offices

6. no office to be held twice, or more than a few times, by the same person, or few offices except the military ones

(τὸ μὴ δὶς τὸν αὐτὸν ἄρχειν μηδεμίαν ἢ ὀλιγάκις ἢ ὀλίγας ἔξω τῶν κατὰ πόλεμον)

7a. short tenure either of all offices or of as many as possible

(τὸ ὀλιγοχρονίους εἶναι τὰς ἀρχὰς ἢ πάσας ἢ ὅσας ἐνδέχεται)

as well as the following

7b. and in respect of the magistracies it is democratic to have none tenable for life, and if any life-office has been left after an ancient revolution, at all events to deprive it of its power and to substitute election by vote for election by lot.

(ἔτι δὲ τῶν ἀρχῶν τὸ μηδεμίαν ἀίδιον εἶναι,ἐὰν δέ τις καταλειφθῇ ἐξ ἀρχαίας μεταβολῆς, τό γε περιαιρεῖσθαι τὴν δύναμιν αὐτῆς καὶ ἐξ αἱρετῶν κληρωτοὺς ποιεῖν)

D. The People’s Assembly

8. the assembly to be sovereign over all matters, but no official over any or only over extremely few; or else a council to be sovereign over the most important matters (and a council is the most democratic of magistracies in states where there is not a plentiful supply of pay for everybody—for where there is, they deprive even this office of its power, since the people draws all the trials to itself when it has plenty of pay, as has been said before in the treatise preceding this one).

(τὸ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν κυρίαν εἶναι πάντων ἢ τῶν μεγίστων, ἀρχὴν δὲ μηδεμίαν μηθενὸς ἢ ὅτι ὀλιγίστων, ἢ τῶν μεγίστων βουλὴν κυρίαν (τῶν δ᾽ ἀρχῶν δημοτικώτατον βουλή, ὅπου μὴ μισθοῦ εὐπορία πᾶσιν: ἐνταῦθα γὰρ ἀφαιροῦνται καὶ ταύτης τῆς ἀρχῆς τὴν δύναμιν: εἰς αὑτὸν γὰρ ἀνάγει τὰς κρίσεις πάσας ὁ δῆμος εὐπορῶν μισθοῦ, καθάπερ εἴρηται πρότερον ἐν τῇ μεθόδῳ τῇ πρὸ ταύτης).

E. Payment of public service

9. also payment for public duties, preferably in all branches, assembly, law-courts, magistracies, or if not, for the magistracies, the law-courts, council and sovereign assemblies, or for those magistracies which are boundto have common mess tables.

(ἔπειτα τὸ μισθοφορεῖν μάλιστα μὲν πάντας, ἐκκλησίαν δικαστήρια ἀρχάς, εἰ δὲ μή, τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰ δικαστήρια καὶ τὴν βουλὴν καὶ τὰς ἐκκλησίας τὰς κυρίας, ἢ τῶν ἀρχῶν ἃς ἀνάγκη συσσιτεῖν μετ᾽ ἀλλήλων)

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