The Great Council: The city is governed by the Great Council, which is made up of members of the most influential families in Venice. The Great Council appoints all public officials and elects the Senate. One member of the council is elected to be the Doge. In 1315, the Venetian Golden Book of the Nobility listed the names of the most influential families in the city, allowing them  - and only them – membership in the Great Council and disenfranchising all others. The names are almost never changed. There is also a lesser Silver Book, for families of wealth and some proof of Venetian lineage. Both books are kept in The "Scrigno" Room of the Doge's palace.

The Senate: The senate comprises 200 to 300 individuals, all elected by the Great Council. The Senate is responsible for choosing the Council of Ten.

Council of Ten: The Council of Ten is a secretive group which hold the utmost power in the administration of the city.

The Doge: The doge, or duke, is the ceremonial head of he city. The doge rules for life under a system of constitutional monarchy. He may rule in great splendor, and laws are passed in his name, but his power is severely limited by the Great Council, and most notably, the Council of Ten. From Wikipedia, via Dylan: "New regulations for the elections of the doge introduced in 1268 remained in force until the end of the republic in 1797. Their object was to minimize as far as possible the influence of individual great families, and this was effected by a complex elective machinery. Thirty members of the Great Council, chosen by lot, were reduced by lot to nine; the nine chose forty and the forty were reduced by lot to twelve, who chose twenty-five. The twenty-five were reduced by lot to nine and the nine elected forty-five. Then the forty-five were once more reduced by lot to eleven, and the eleven finally chose the forty-one who actually elected the doge. None could be elected but by at least twenty-five votes out of forty-one, nine votes out of eleven or twelve, or seven votes out of nine electors."



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