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Type of monarchy in which power is restricted by a constitution
A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises their authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from absolute monarchies (in which a monarch whether limited by a constitution or not is the only one to decide) in that they are bound to exercise powers and authorities within limits prescribed by an established legal framework. Constitutional monarchies range from countries such as Liechtenstein, Monaco, Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, and Bahrain, where the constitution grants substantial discretionary powers to the sovereign, to countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Japan, where the monarch retains significantly less personal discretion in the exercise of their authority.
1 This map was compiled according to the popflock.com resource list of countries by system of government. See there for sources. 2 Several states constitutionally deemed to be multiparty republics are broadly described by outsiders as authoritarian states. This map presents only the de jure form of government, and not the de facto degree of democracy.
Constitutional monarchy may refer to a system in which the monarch acts as a non-party political head of state under the constitution, whether written or unwritten. While most monarchs may hold formal authority and the government may legally operate in the monarch's name, in the form typical in Europe the monarch no longer personally sets public policy or chooses political leaders. Political scientist Vernon Bogdanor, paraphrasing Thomas Macaulay, has defined a constitutional monarch as "A sovereign who reigns but does not rule".
In addition to acting as a visible symbol of national unity, a constitutional monarch may hold formal powers such as dissolving parliament or giving royal assent to legislation. However, such powers generally may only be exercised strictly in accordance with either written constitutional principles or unwritten constitutional conventions, rather than any personal political preferences of the sovereign. In The English Constitution, British political theorist Walter Bagehot identified three main political rights which a constitutional monarch may freely exercise: the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn. Many constitutional monarchies still retain significant authorities or political influence, however, such as through certain reserve powers and who may also play an important political role.
Strongly limited constitutional monarchies, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, have been referred to as crowned republics by writers H. G. Wells and Glenn Patmore.
The concept of semi-constitutional monarch identifies constitutional monarchies where the monarch retains substantial powers, on a par with a president in a presidential or semi-presidential system. As a result, constitutional monarchies where the monarch has a largely ceremonial role may also be referred to as 'parliamentary monarchies' to differentiate them from semi-constitutional monarchies.
The oldest constitutional monarchy dating back to ancient times was that of the Hittites. They were an ancient Anatolian people that lived during the Bronze Age whose king had to share his authority with an assembly, called the Panku, which was the equivalent to a modern-day deliberative assembly or a legislature. Members of the Panku came from scattered noble families who worked as representatives of their subjects in an adjutant or subaltern federal-type landscape.[better source needed]
Although Queen Anne was the last monarch to veto an Act of Parliament when, on 11 March 1708, she blocked the Scottish Militia Bill, Hanoverian monarchs continued to selectively dictate government policies. For instance King George III constantly blocked Catholic Emancipation, eventually precipitating the resignation of William Pitt the Younger as prime minister in 1801. The sovereign's influence on the choice of prime minister gradually declined over this period, King William IV being the last monarch to dismiss a prime minister, when in 1834 he removed Lord Melbourne as a result of Melbourne's choice of Lord John Russell as Leader of the House of Commons.Queen Victoria was the last monarch to exercise real personal power, but this diminished over the course of her reign. In 1839, she became the last sovereign to keep a prime minister in power against the will of Parliament when the Bedchamber crisis resulted in the retention of Lord Melbourne's administration. By the end of her reign, however, she could do nothing to block the unacceptable (to her) premierships of William Gladstone, although she still exercised power in appointments to the Cabinet, for example in 1886 preventing Gladstone's choice of Hugh Childers as War Secretary in favour of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.
Poland developed the first constitution for a monarchy in continental Europe, with the Constitution of 3 May 1791; it was the second single-document constitution in the world just after the first republican Constitution of the United States. Constitutional monarchy also occurred briefly in the early years of the French Revolution, but much more widely afterwards. Napoleon Bonaparte is considered the first monarch proclaiming himself as an embodiment of the nation, rather than as a divinely appointed ruler; this interpretation of monarchy is germane to continental constitutional monarchies. German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, in his work Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1820), gave the concept a philosophical justification that concurred with evolving contemporary political theory and the Protestant Christian view of natural law. Hegel's forecast of a constitutional monarch with very limited powers whose function is to embody the national character and provide constitutional continuity in times of emergency was reflected in the development of constitutional monarchies in Europe and Japan.
Executive monarchy versus ceremonial monarchy
There exist at least two different types of constitutional monarchies in the modern world -- executive and ceremonial. In executive monarchies, the monarch wields significant (though not absolute) power. The monarchy under this system of government is a powerful political (and social) institution. By contrast, in ceremonial monarchies, the monarch holds little or no actual power or direct political influence, though they frequently have a great deal of social and cultural influence.
Ceremonial and executive monarchy, should not be confused with democratic and non-democratic monarchical systems. For example, in Liechtenstein and Monaco, the ruling monarchs wield significant executive power. However, they are not absolute monarchs, and these countries are generally reckoned as democracies.
Modern constitutional monarchy
As originally conceived, a constitutional monarch was head of the executive branch and quite a powerful figure even though his or her power was limited by the constitution and the elected parliament. Some of the framers of the U.S. Constitution may have envisioned the president as an elected constitutional monarch, as the term was then understood, following Montesquieu's account of the separation of powers.
The present-day concept of a constitutional monarchy developed in the United Kingdom, where the democratically elected parliaments, and their leader, the prime minister, exercise power, with the monarchs having ceded power and remaining as a titular position. In many cases the monarchs, while still at the very top of the political and social hierarchy, were given the status of "servants of the people" to reflect the new, egalitarian position. In the course of France's July Monarchy, Louis-Philippe I was styled "King of the French" rather than "King of France".
Following the Unification of Germany, Otto von Bismarck rejected the British model. In the constitutional monarchy established under the Constitution of the German Empire which Bismarck inspired, the Kaiser retained considerable actual executive power, while the Imperial Chancellor needed no parliamentary vote of confidence and ruled solely by the imperial mandate. However, this model of constitutional monarchy was discredited and abolished following Germany's defeat in the First World War. Later, Fascist Italy could also be considered a constitutional monarchy, in that there was a king as the titular head of state while actual power was held by Benito Mussolini under a constitution. This eventually discredited the Italian monarchy and led to its abolition in 1946. After the Second World War, surviving European monarchies almost invariably adopted some variant of the constitutional monarchy model originally developed in Britain.
Nowadays a parliamentary democracy that is a constitutional monarchy is considered to differ from one that is a republic only in detail rather than in substance. In both cases, the titular head of state--monarch or president--serves the traditional role of embodying and representing the nation, while the government is carried on by a cabinet composed predominantly of elected Members of Parliament.
However, three important factors distinguish monarchies such as the United Kingdom from systems where greater power might otherwise rest with Parliament. These are: the Royal Prerogative under which the monarch may exercise power under certain very limited circumstances; Sovereign Immunity under which the monarch may do no wrong under the law because the responsible government is instead deemed accountable; and the monarch may not be subject to the same taxation or property use restrictions as most citizens. Other privileges may be nominal or ceremonial (e.g., where the executive, judiciary, police or armed forces act on the authority of or owe allegiance to the Crown).
Today slightly more than a quarter of constitutional monarchies are Western European countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, Monaco, Liechtenstein and Sweden. However, the two most populous constitutional monarchies in the world are in Asia: Japan and Thailand. In these countries, the prime minister holds the day-to-day powers of governance, while the monarch retains residual (but not always insignificant) powers. The powers of the monarch differ between countries. In Denmark and in Belgium, for example, the monarch formally appoints a representative to preside over the creation of a coalition government following a parliamentary election, while in Norway the King chairs special meetings of the cabinet.
In nearly all cases, the monarch is still the nominal chief executive but is bound by convention to act on the advice of the Cabinet. Only a few monarchies (most notably Japan and Sweden) have amended their constitutions so that the monarch is no longer even the nominal chief executive.
There are fifteen constitutional monarchies under Queen Elizabeth II, which are known as Commonwealth realms. Unlike some of their continental European counterparts, the Monarch and her Governors-General in the Commonwealth realms hold significant "reserve" or "prerogative" powers, to be wielded in times of extreme emergency or constitutional crises, usually to uphold parliamentary government. An instance of a Governor-General exercising such power occurred during the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, when the Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, was dismissed by the Governor-General. The Australian Senate had threatened to block the Government's budget by refusing to pass the necessary appropriation bills. On 11 November 1975, Whitlam intended to call a half-Senate election in an attempt to break the deadlock. When he sought the Governor-General's approval of the election, the Governor-General instead dismissed him as Prime Minister. Shortly after that installed leader of the opposition Malcolm Fraser in his place. Acting quickly before all parliamentarians became aware of the government change, Fraser and his allies secured passage of the appropriation bills, and the Governor-General dissolved Parliament for a double dissolution election. Fraser and his government were returned with a massive majority. This led to much speculation among Whitlam's supporters as to whether this use of the Governor-General's reserve powers was appropriate, and whether Australia should become a republic. Among supporters of constitutional monarchy, however, the experience confirmed the monarchy's value as a source of checks and balances against elected politicians who might seek powers in excess of those conferred by the constitution, and ultimately as a safeguard against dictatorship.
In Thailand's constitutional monarchy, the monarch is recognized as the Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of the Buddhist Religion, and Defender of the Faith. The immediate former King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, was the longest-reigning monarch in the world and in all of Thailand's history, before passing away on 13 October 2016. Bhumibol reigned through several political changes in the Thai government. He played an influential role in each incident, often acting as mediator between disputing political opponents. (See Bhumibol's role in Thai Politics.) Among the powers retained by the Thai monarch under the constitution, lèse majesté protects the image of the monarch and enables him to play a role in politics. It carries strict criminal penalties for violators. Generally, the Thai people were reverent of Bhumibol. Much of his social influence arose from this reverence and from the socioeconomic improvement efforts undertaken by the royal family.
In the United Kingdom, a frequent debate centres on when it is appropriate for a British monarch to act. When a monarch does act, political controversy can often ensue, partially because the neutrality of the crown is seen to be compromised in favour of a partisan goal, while some political scientists champion the idea of an "interventionist monarch" as a check against possible illegal action by politicians. For instance, the monarch of the United Kingdom can theoretically exercise an absolute veto over legislation by withholding royal assent. However, no monarch has done so since 1708, and it is widely believed that this and many of the monarch's other political powers are lapsed powers.
Egypt was a constitutional monarchy starting from the later part of the Khedivate, with parliamentary structures and a responsible khedival ministry developing in the 1860s and 1870s. The constitutional system continued through the Khedivate period and developed during the Sultanate and then Kingdom of Egypt, which established an essentially democratic liberal constitutional regime under the Egyptian Constitution of 1923. This system persisted until the declaration of a republic after the Free Officers Movement coup in 1952. For most of this period, however, Egypt was occupied by the United Kingdom, and overall political control was in the hands of British colonial officials nominally accredited as diplomats to the Egyptian royal court but actually able to overrule any decision of the monarch or elected government.
Hawaii, which was an absolute monarchy from its founding in 1810, transitioned to a constitutional monarchy in 1840 when King Kamehameha III promulgated the kingdom's first constitution. This constitutional form of government continued until the monarchy was overthrown in an 1893 coup.
Iceland. The Act of Union, a 1 December 1918 agreement with Denmark, established Iceland as a sovereign kingdom united with Denmark under a common king. Iceland abolished the monarchy and became a republic on 17 June 1944 after the Icelandic constitutional referendum, 24 May 1944.
Malta was a constitutional monarchy with Elizabeth II as Queen of Malta, represented by a Governor-General appointed by her, for the first ten years of independence from 21 September 1964 to the declaration of the Republic of Malta on 13 December 1974.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, formed after the Union of Lublin in 1569 and lasting until the final partition of the state in 1795, operated much like many modern European constitutional monarchies (into which it was officially changed by the establishment of the Constitution of 3 May 1791, which historian Norman Davies calls "the first constitution of its kind in Europe"). The legislators of the unified state truly did not see it as a monarchy at all, but as a republic under the presidency of the King . Poland-Lithuania also followed the principle of Rex regnat et non gubernat, had a bicameral parliament, and a collection of entrenched legal documents amounting to a constitution along the lines of the modern United Kingdom. The King was elected, and had the duty of maintaining the people's rights.
Belgium is the only remaining explicit popular monarchy, the formal title of its king being King of the Belgians rather than King of Belgium. Historically, several defunct constitutional monarchies followed this model; the Belgian formulation is recognized to have been modelled on the title "King of the French" the Charter of 1830 granted the monarch of the July Monarchy.
Papua New Guinea. Unlike in most other Commonwealth realms, sovereignty is constitutionally vested in the citizenry of Papua New Guinea and the preamble to the constitution states "that all power belongs to the people--acting through their duly elected representatives". The monarch has been, according to section 82 of the constitution, "requested by the people of Papua New Guinea, through their Constituent Assembly, to become [monarch] and Head of State of Papua New Guinea" and thus acts in that capacity.
McCannon, John (2006), Barron's how to Prepare for the AP World History Examination (2nd, illustrated ed.), Barron's Educational Serie, pp. 177-178, ISBN9780764132711 -- England and the Netherlands in the 17th and 18th centuries were parliamentary democracies.