With the papal election this week, I thought a discussion on the general topic based on news reports might be of interest. Not Orthodox/Catholic discussion, just the news aspect.
Here is an interesting quote on the conclave process from a Georgetown U. Church history professor:
"The conclave is a process that dates to the Middle Ages. Until the 11th century, the process of picking popes was “a mess and inconsistent,” said Georgetown University history professor the Rev. David Collins. The popes were picked by various combinations of the clergy in Rome and the generation population. At that time, popes served as the head of Christianity in Western Europe and as the bishop of Rome. The city was governed by several prominent families, and the pope would come from one of those families." http://m.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/papal-conclave-has-tight-structure-uncertain-length/2013/03/11/044128a4-8a5c-11e2-8d72-dc76641cb8d4_story.html