Thoughout Europe the Serenissima's
government was considered a model of stability, honesty
and demonstrated the possibility of combining the
monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, in the figures of
the Doge, the Senate and the Grand Council.
The Doge represented the unity of the Republic. He was elected for life by the Grand Council, chosen from among the greatest Venetian families and in general was older than 70. The Doge's powers were very limited. He could not make any decisions in the absence of the six Councillors of the six sestieri of the city of Venice. He could not leave Venice unless he was accompanied by at least two Councillors. The actions of the Doge were controlled by the Seignory, which consisted of the six Councillors, the three heads of the supreme tribunal and the Doge himself. Moreover the Doge had to pay for all official festivities organized in the Doge's Palace, for any restoration work done in the Palace and often had to pay for military operations, without getting money from the State. In fact it was not for a desire for money or power that made Venetians desire to be Doge, but for the honor of covering the highest position of the Republic and all the noble families wished for the the privilege of having a Doge in their family as this insured that their name would be remembered through out history. Also some commoners made extraordinary services to the State or payed substantial sums to the government or to impoverished nobles to buy titles of nobiltry and to have their name written in the Golden Book so that they could be members of the Grand Council and in this way hope for a nomination as Doge. There is one dark spot in the history of the Doges of the Serenissima. After the election of Doge Marin Falier, he tried to lead a popular conspirancy and was executed by order of the Council of Ten. The Council of Ten in fact were responsible for decisions about crimes against the State and about decisions requiring absolute secrecy. They also prevented the ambitions of influential citizens from threatening the Venetian Republic. In the Ballot Chamber of the Doge's Palace, where the portraits of the Doges are exhibited, the portrait of Marin Falier is replaced by a black veil in remembrance of his crime.
In Venice no single institution monopolized power becouse no single decision making body could operate unchecked by another and the quick rotation of all offices made it difficult for a single individual or faction to appropriate power or to be corrupted becouse their time in office is not long enough to be useful for such a pourpose.
Frauds in casting ballots have been known to happen in Venice, before ballots were cast, Grand Council members milled about in front of the palace, on the "broglio", where the most powerful tried to buy the votes of impoverished nobles, called the barnabotti. It is from this practice that the the word broglio (entanglement) came in to use and is still used today.