Elections, or choosings, are held by several different governments or organizations in the known world, to select individuals to hold an office. There are various different kinds of elections, ranging from the representative republic that governed the old Valyrian Freehold, to elections held within trade guilds and the like to select new office-holders.
Elections in Westeros
Few formal elections are held in the Seven Kingdoms, which remains a feudal society, though several organizations hold internal elections:
- The High Septon of the Faith of the Seven is elected by a council known as the Most Devout. In practice, the crown can usually influence the Most Devout to select a candidate they prefer, through a combination of bribery and political favors.
- The Grand Maester, an adviser to the Iron Throne, is a maester selected to the position by the Conclave.
- The Warrior's Sons, the upper order of the Faith Militant, were led by a Grand Captain before their disbandment. Similar to the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, a new Grand Captain was elected in a vote by members of the order.
The free folk who live beyond the Wall follow whom they like and often feel comfortable to speak freely with their leaders. At several times during history, they have united behind a non-hereditary over-chief known as the King-Beyond-the-Wall. The Vale mountain clans allow all men and women to participate in their councils. Neither group, however, holds "elections" as such.
On a few occasions throughout the Targaryen rule over Westeros, Great Councils have been held to decide the succession to the Iron Throne, or to appoint regents of an under-aged king.
The kingsmoot was a system of elected monarchy held by the ironborn to choose their rock and salt kings in ancient times. After a king died, priests of the Drowned God would call an assembly of ship captains to choose a successor. Every man who owned and captained a boat had the right to vote. Women in the Iron Islands are rarely ship captains, though there is technically no formal rule against them voting or even standing in the election (though in practice they have never had an elected queen in their entire history). The priests declare when a clear majority of the assembled captains have announced their support for one candidate. Divided elections could end in violence.
Kingsmoots to choose the High King of the Iron Islands were held at the sacred site of Nagga's Bones on Old Wyk.
The Night's Watch holds elections to choose its Lord Commander, who serves as their leader until his death. Any man who has sworn his vows—whether born noble, bastard, or commoner—can be put forth as a candidate, though nobles are often better trained and thus have a greater chance of rising through the ranks. All members of the Night's Watch are allowed to vote in the election of the next Lord Commander. Given that not all members can leave their post to vote in person, friends are allowed to cast votes on behalf of the absent member. Since elections are held at Castle Black, commanders of other castles like Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and the Shadow Tower can cast votes on behalf of their garrisons.
To win the election, a candidate must receive a two-thirds majority of the votes. If no candidate receives this majority, the election continues with another round of voting, with no set time limit, on and on as candidates drop out and votes realign to the other candidates. Elections can last several days. Once an election was so deadlocked that the voting continued for two years and seven hundred rounds of voting, though this was a remarkable case.
Elections in Essos
Valyria and the Free Cities
In the old Valyrian Freehold, all citizens who owned land were allowed a voice, with every freeborn landholder sharing rule in the freehold. Archons were provisionally elected by their lords freeholder of Valyria. Over the centuries, politics came to be dominated by forty aristocratic families of dragonlords, who were divided into quarreling factions.
After the Doom of Valyria, however, the Freehold collapsed, with its surviving colonies splitting up into various local forms of government. Slaver's Bay came to be ruled by aristocratic oligarchies, while several Free Cities came to be ruled by councils of oligarchic merchant nobles known as magisters. The Archon of Tyrosh is elected from and by a council of magisters. The Sealord of Braavos is selected by the magisters and keyholders of the city through a complicated process. The choosing of a new Sealord often leads to murders in the city. The Prince of Pentos is elected by the city's magisters. The gonfaloniere and First Magister of Lys are also chosen by election.
Only in Volantis, oldest and largest of the Free Cities, is the freehold system of government still practiced, as its aristocracy consider their city to be the first daughter and the heir of Valyria. Volantis is ruled by three triarchs. Their one-year terms end on the first day of the new year, at the end of a ten-day long campaign period featuring speeches by candidates, torch-lit parades, bribery, mummer's shows, and the like to win votes. Triarchs are allowed to run for re-election and incumbents often serve for many years. Despite all of the overt campaigning and bribery, the Volantene have a deep respect for their elections.
Only members of the Volantene aristocracy who can prove their unbroken descent from old Valyria can run for triarch. Any freeborn in the city has the right to vote—though there is a disproportion of about five slaves for each free person in the city. Both men and women have the right to vote. Women can run for triarch, though a woman has not won since Trianna at the end of the Century of Blood three hundred years ago.
Elections in Volantis are organized around two factions with long-standing policy platforms, the tigers who advocate for war and conquest and the elephants who encourage peace and trade.
Before the coming of the Andals, the High King of Dorne was a monarch of the First Men who ruled near the Greenblood. The High King was chosen from among a dozen local families, but the tradition fell apart after a contested result.
Urron Greyiron ended the tradition of the kingsmoot in the Iron Islands by massacring rivals at Old Wyk and establishing the King of the Iron Islands as a hereditary position.
During the Century of Blood, the beloved military commander Horonno was re-elected forty years in a row as a triarch of Volantis. When Horonno tried to declare himself triarch for life, however, he was caught by rioters and executed by being tied to two elephants and ripped in half. The tigers were in power for much of the Century of Blood, but after suffering numerous defeats they were finally voted out for the elephants, who have elected at least two out of three triarchs in every annual election in Volantis for the past three hundred years.
A Clash of Kings
After the death of the previous High Septon during the riot of King's Landing, Tyrion Lannister selects his replacement by influencing the Most Devout. Tyrion, the acting Hand of the King, believes the new High Septon will be loyal to him.
A Storm of Swords
Following the death of Jeor Mormont and the battle beneath the Wall, the Night's Watch holds an election to choose the next Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Janos Slynt, Cotter Pyke, and Ser Denys Mallister receive a number of votes, but Jon Snow is eventually chosen by the brothers gathered at Castle Black.
A Feast for Crows
Aeron Greyjoy calls for a kingsmoot on Old Wyk after the death of his oldest brother, Balon Greyjoy, King of the Isles and the North, during the War of the Five Kings. Half a dozen major candidates put their names forward, most prominently Aeron's older brothers, Euron and Victarion, as well as Balon's daughter, Asha Greyjoy. Each candidate in the kingsmoot is supported by three champions. Heavily divided between Victarion's insistence on continued raiding and Asha's plea to stop before the mainland inevitably counter-attacks, the kingsmoot is eventually swayed by Euron's audacious plan to conquer all of Westeros using the dragons of Daenerys Targaryen.
Tyrion's High Septon dies in his sleep, secretly smothered with a pillow at the order of Cersei Lannister, and the Most Devout begin the selection process to see who of them will become his successor. Cersei expects the new High Septon will be Torbert or Raynard. According to Qyburn, the sparrows forcibly took over the selection process. They burst into the chambers with axes in hand and with their leader, the small septon, on their shoulders. The Most Devout relent in fear and name him the new High Septon. Afterwards, he is nicknamed the High Sparrow.
A Dance of Dragons
Ser Jorah Mormont and Tyrion Lannister visit Volantis on the third day of the triarch elections. They board the Selaesori Qhoran two days later, before the elections end.
The city's incumbent triarchs are:
- Malaquo Maegyr, a tiger
- Doniphos Paenymion, an elephant
- Nyessos Vhassar, an elephant
Known candidates to become new triarchs are:
While the elections have ended, the results of the new elections have not yet been revealed. With the city thirsty for war against Daenerys Targaryen,  speculation is that, no matter who is elected triarch, Volantis will go to war against Daenerys Targaryen.
Arya Stark reports to the kindly man that the Sealord of Braavos, Ferrego Antaryon, is sick and dying. The patrons of the Inn of the Green Eel believe Tormo Fregar will be chosen as the new Sealord once Ferrego is dead.
I just want to say to whoever is voting for me that I would certainly make an awful Lord Commander. But so would all these others.—Eddison Tollett to the Night's Watch
Meldred: A kingsmoot? There has not been a true kingsmoot in ...
Aeron: ... too long a time! Yet in the dawn of days the ironborn chose their own kings, raising up the worthiest amongst them. It is time we returned to the Old Way, for only that shall make us great again.
Tyrion: Do all these would-be triarchs provide mummer shows?
Jorah: They do whatever they think will win them votes.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: Volantis.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei VI.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 49, Tyrion XI.
- ↑ Fire & Blood, Birth, Death, and Betrayal Under King Jaehaerys I.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 12, Tyrion II.
- ↑ Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 15, Jon II.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 7, Jon I.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 1, Bran I.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 51, Jon VI.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 26, Jon III.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 56, Tyrion VII.
- ↑ Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
- ↑ The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maekar I.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Fire & Blood, The Lysene Spring and the End of Regency.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: Driftwood Crowns.
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 19, The Drowned Man.
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 79, Jon XII.
- ↑ The World of Ice & Fire, The Wall and Beyond: The Night's Watch.
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 75, Samwell IV.
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Rise of Valyria.
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 23.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 6, The Merchant's Man.
- ↑ The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
- ↑ The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: The Quarrelsome Daughters: Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh.
- ↑ The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: Braavos.
- ↑ The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: Pentos.
- ↑ 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 28.5 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion IV.
- ↑ 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 29.5 29.6 29.7 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 27, Tyrion VII.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
- ↑ The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Kingdoms of the First Men.
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 1, The Prophet.
- ↑ 33.0 33.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
- ↑ 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 22, Tyrion VI.