Niccolò Machiavelli's support for what he calls governo largo, or popular government, is usually contrasted with the diffidence towards it of Francesco Guicciardini, the Florentine aristocrat. The article argues that both these authors grounded their vision on Polybius' theory of “mixed government,” though adapting it in different directions. In examining this difference, the article reaches the conclusion that it concerns far less the degree of popular participation in political decision‐making and government than the value that Machiavelli and Guicciardini respectively ascribe to it in comparison with that of safety‐liberty (or legal certainty). In this respect, their theories may be viewed as anticipating the tensions between democracy and the rule of law, the co‐presence of which provides the essential foundation of the structure of present‐day constitutional democracies.The full text is not available from SSRN.
June 4, 2015
Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Democracy, and the Rule of Law
Cesare Pinelli, Sapienza University of Rome, has published Machiavelli, Guicciardini and the 'Governo Largo' at 28 Ratio Juris 267 (2015). Here is the abstract.