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The Themistocles Naval Decree of 483/2 BCE and the Greek Referendum of 2015: A comparative analysis of choice set under direct democracy procedures

Economou, Emmanouel/Marios/Lazaros and Kyriazis, Nicholas and Metaxas, Theodore (2015): The Themistocles Naval Decree of 483/2 BCE and the Greek Referendum of 2015: A comparative analysis of choice set under direct democracy procedures.

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Abstract

In the present essay we examine decision-making and choice under direct democracy procedures, focusing on two famous examples: Themistocles’ Naval Law of 483/2 BCE and modern Greece’s referendum of June 2015. They concerned, in a broad sense, the choice between the finance of public good(s) versus the increase in available personal income. We analyse the similarities and differences in the institutional setting, the means available for discussion and consensus building and the actual outcomes, which were different: in ancient Athens the outcome was in favour of the “public good” defense and in modern Greece, it was of no consequence since the final actual outcome was contrary to the referendum. Lastly, we offer some thoughts regarding the different outcomes, which were dependent on the specific perceptions of each issue, the possibility of disaggregation of choice elements, the time horizon and historic context and the perception of citizens-voters, as to the “quality” of their government.

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