The Europe has a long history of majoritarianism voting from ancient Greek to medieval. However, I find no event of majority voting in East Asia.

By "majoritarianism", I mean strictly the rule by majority voting. I do not mean the more general terms of "democracy" or "republics" which might mean "rule by people rather than the monarch".

A single event of majoritarian voting for one single decision suffices the requirements of my question in title. I am not requiring that the whole political system has to be majoritarian. However, I do strictly require the record of that voting event.

  • 2
    Sounds like a better Q for history.stackexchange.com. People here don't typically specialize in ancient history. Feb 4 at 6:14
  • 1
    You could investigate buddist Sangha "German historian Markus Rüttermann has found in the 12th through the 14th centuries "several Japanese monasteries were making decisions by majority vote."" Quoting Wikipedia web.archive.org/web/20180205121106/https://tricycle.org/…
    – James K
    Feb 4 at 6:41
  • I think that would be a lot easier to answer, because the idiom "集思广益" first appeared in Zhuge Liang's "教与军师长史参军掾属" during the Three Kingdoms period. This word means to gather the wisdom of the masses and widely absorb useful opinions. This includes situations where a number of people come together to discuss decisions and adopt decisions that are agreed upon by the majority.
    – yamakaze
    Feb 4 at 11:48
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    Just to take issue with the first line, there is really no tradition of majoritarianism in Europe before 1900, except in limited situations, such as private clubs or trade unions. There is a tradition of an elite (such as "men owning real estate") having the right to vote, but this was only gradually extended until the women's suffrage movements at the turn of the century. Before then it wouldn't be reasonable to describe any European country as "democratic" in a meaningful way.
    – James K
    Feb 4 at 14:28
  • What do you mean by "majoritarianism voting", "majoritarianism", or "rule by majority voting"?
    – user103496
    Feb 5 at 7:58

1 Answer 1


Apparently, at least some Buddhist communities in Medieval Japan were run (at least in so far as relates to non-spiritual matters) by the will of the majority:

As for the rule, that when decisions are made, one should put into effect the opinion of the majority . . . ancient scriptures say . . . among three people to follow what two of them think [...] (These words were taken from a document held in a Japanese temple. The document is dated to 1355, and it comes from Gakuen-ji in Izumo Province [quoted in (source)])

The same article notes research that other monastries did likewise and had been doing so for some time:

Markus Rüttermann has shown [that] several Japanese monasteries were making decisions by majority vote during the same period. The monks of Jingo-ji in Kyoto, for example, also made decisions facing the community by majority vote, according to a temple document dated to 1185.

The article further notes guidance from ancient sources on how to make and use bamboo voting sticks, and on which matters it is correct to consult all monks in the monastery, and which should be decided by the master.

The article further notes that rule by an assembly was normal in some Ancient Indian city-states, and mentions a reference in Buddhist texts that the Buddha says that the confederation of the Vajii (in modern-day Bihar) will never be conquered, because it is governed by assemblies, not kings or tyrants. These may not have been functioning democracies in the modern sense (we might characterise them as oligarchies) but they seem at least as democratic as the Roman Republic.

  • 1
    Good to know, but I think the OP is more interested in the political system as opposed to the self-rule of tribes/sects.
    – r13
    Feb 4 at 16:49
  • 1
    @r13: and how were Greek cities that different from "tribes"? It's not like they had Greece-wide elections then. Feb 6 at 0:15
  • @Fizz A structured government and political system.
    – r13
    Feb 6 at 3:21
  • The Indian cities of the time had a structured government, often centred around a "king" with an assembly
    – James K
    Feb 6 at 5:52

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