Ancient Rome had a Republic for 500 years . This was a form of government that allowed for people to elect magistrates. However, It was a complicated type of ruling which had a constitution, laws, and elected magistrates. Many structures of this government are considered the basis of modern democracies.
The Roman Republic had different institutions and the most important ones were:
- The elected officials were called magistrates. Magistrates had different functions; The consul was a very powerful position and there were always two consuls elected and they only served for one year. The consuls had a wide range of powers; they decided when to go to war, how much taxes to collect, and what the laws were. Tribunes were the representatives of the Plebeian Council. The Censor counted the people in order to tax them.
- The Senate was created to advise the magistrates and Senators were selected for life.
- Plebeian Council – The Plebeian Council was also called the Peoples Assembly. This was how the common people, plebeians, could elect their own leader.
- Roman Republic had a Constitution but it had not a written form. The Constitution had the form of guidelines transmited orally from generation to generation. It contained separate branches of government an check of powers.
The Roman Republic failed because there were rivalries between consuls and generals. To solve triumviates or government of three people were established but this did not work. Julius Caesar was assasinated when he wanted to proclaim himself dictator. His nephew Octavian defeated his enemies, mainly Mark Anthony and proclaimed himself Emperor in 27 BC. Ths time the Senate was not able to control absolute power.