By John M. Najemy
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Extra resources for Corporatism and Consensus in Florentine Electoral Politics, 1280-1400
Such would appear to have been the result of the exclusion of the consuls from any significant role in the election of the priorate. At the end of 1291, the Florentines experimented with a new twist in the electoral system that seems to mark the first grant of an electoral balia and the earliest use of the technique of imborsazione, or the placing into bags of name tickets to be drawn at regular intervals. 25Instead of electing the usual number of six priors for a single term, they approved thirty-six candidates all at once, enough to fill the Signoria for six two-month terms from 15 December 1291 to 15 December 1292.
Electoral Debates in the Early Republic, 1280-1292 31 which was certainly difficult, if not impossible, to obtain with a system of bimonthly elections. The need for greater long-term stability in the priorate was probably related to the emerging mood of unrest and dissent within the guild community in 1289 and 1290. Embroiled in an inconclusive war against Arezzo and Pisa, the ruling oligarchy found itself confronted with growing opposition to its foreign and fiscal policies. 27This made it more difficult for the members of the ruling elite to succeed themselves in office with regularity and had the effect of making the bimonthly elections even more unpredictable than usual.
The guild system of elections tended to place the elite of the major guilds in precisely this position. We are thus faced with the apparent paradox that the guild-based priorate was instituted in the very year in which the idea of a guild-based electoral system was considered but firmly rejected by the political leaders of Florence. The guild community was in ferment throughout 1282, as new waves of corporate groups sought admission to the political theater. The creation of the priorate in June and its subsequent expansion into a committee of six members representing the diverse corporate community of Florence were no doubt a response to this ferment.