Constitutional monarchy | Wikipedia audio article
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Constitutional monarchy | Wikipedia audio article

August 25, 2019

A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy
in which the sovereign exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten
constitution. Constitutional monarchy differs from absolute monarchy (in which a monarch
holds absolute power) in that constitutional monarchs are bound to exercise their powers
and authorities within the limits prescribed within an established legal framework. Constitutional
monarchies range from countries such as Morocco, where the constitution grants substantial
discretionary powers to the sovereign, to countries such as Japan and Sweden where the
monarch retains no formal authorities. 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, the exercise of such powers is largely strictly
in accordance with either written constitutional principles or unwritten constitutional conventions,
rather than any personal political preference imposed by 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 may also play
an important political role. The United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth
realms are all constitutional monarchies in the Westminster system of constitutional governance.
Two constitutional monarchies – Malaysia and Cambodia – are elective monarchies,
wherein the ruler is periodically selected by a small electoral college.==History==
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 or
queen had to share their 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.The most recent country to move from an absolute monarchy
to a constitutional monarchy was Bhutan, between 2007 and 2008 (see Politics of Bhutan, Constitution
of Bhutan and Bhutanese democracy).==Constitutional and absolute monarchy=====
England and the United Kingdom===In the Kingdom of England, the Glorious Revolution
of 1688 led to a constitutional monarchy restricted by laws such as the Bill of Rights 1689 and
the Act of Settlement 1701, although limits on the power of the monarch (“a limited monarchy”)
are much older than that (see Magna Carta). At the same time, in Scotland, the Convention
of Estates enacted the Claim of Right Act 1689, which placed similar limits on the Scottish
monarchy. 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 favor of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.Today, the
role of the British monarch is by convention effectively ceremonial. Instead, the British
Parliament and the Government – chiefly in the office of Prime Minister of the United
Kingdom – exercise their powers under “Royal (or Crown) Prerogative”: on behalf of the
monarch and through powers still formally possessed by the Monarch.No person may accept
significant public office without swearing an oath of allegiance to the Queen. With few
exceptions, the monarch is bound by constitutional convention to act on the advice of the Government.===Continental Europe===
Constitutional monarchy originated in continental Europe, with Poland developing the first constitution
for a monarchy with the Constitution of May 3, 1791; it was the third 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.==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 sixteen 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 November 11, 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, and shortly
thereafter installed leader of the opposition Malcolm Fraser in his place. Acting quickly
before all parliamentarians became aware of the change of government, 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 value of the monarchy 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 former King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, was the
longest reigning monarch in the world and in all of Thailand’s history, prior to passing
away on 13 October 2016. Bhumibol has reigned through several political changes in the Thai
government. He has 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 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 are reverent of Bhumibol. Much of his social influence arises
from this reverence and from the socio-economic improvement efforts undertaken by the royal
family. In the United Kingdom, a frequent debate centers
on when it is appropriate for a 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
favor 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.
There are currently 43 monarchies worldwide.==List of current constitutional monarchies
Former constitutional monarchies==The Anglo-Corsican Kingdom was a brief period
in the history of Corsica (1794–1796) when the island broke with Revolutionary France
and sought military protection from Great Britain. Corsica became an independent kingdom
under George III of the United Kingdom, but with its own elected parliament and a written
constitution guaranteeing local autonomy and democratic rights.
Brazil from 1822, with the proclamation of independence and rise of the Empire of Brazil
by Pedro I of Brazil to 1889, when Pedro II was deposed by a military coup.
Kingdom of Bulgaria until 1946 when Tsar Simeon was deposed by the communist assembly.
Many Commonwealth republics were constitutional monarchies for some period after their independence,
including Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Fiji (1970–87), Gambia (1965–70), Ghana (1957–60), Guyana
(1966–70), and Trinidad and Tobago (1962–76). The Grand Principality of Finland was a constitutional
monarchy though its ruler, Alexander I, was simultaneously an autocrat and absolute ruler
in Russia. France, several times during the 19th century.
Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed himself Emperor of the French in what was ostensibly a constitutional
monarchy, though modern historians often call his reign as an absolute monarchy. The Bourbon
Restoration (under Louis XVIII and Charles X), the July Monarchy (under Louis-Philippe),
and the Second Empire (under Napoleon III) were also constitutional monarchies, although
the power of the monarch varied considerably between them.
The German Empire from 1871 to 1918, (as well as earlier confederations, and the monarchies
it consisted of) was also a constitutional monarchy—see Constitution of the German
Empire. Greece until 1973 when Constantine II was
deposed by the military government. The decision was formalized by a plebiscite December 8,
1974. 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.
The Kingdom of Hungary. In 1848–1849 and 1867–1918 as part of Austria-Hungary. In
the interwar period (1920–1944) Hungary remained a constitutional monarchy without
a reigning monarch. Iceland. The Act of Union, a December 1, 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 June 17,
1944 after the Icelandic constitutional referendum, May 24, 1944.
Iran under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was a constitutional monarchy, which had been
originally established during the Persian Constitutional Revolution in 1906.
Italy until June 2, 1946, when a referendum proclaimed the end of the Kingdom and the
beginning of the Republic. Korean Empire proclaimed in October 1897 to
the Annexation of Korea by Japan on August 20, 1910. It succeeded the Joseon Dynasty.
The Kingdom of Laos was a constitutional monarchy until 1975, when Sisavang Vatthana was forced
to abdicate by the communist Pathet Lao. 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. Mexico was twice an Empire. The First Mexican
Empire was from July 21, 1822, to March 19, 1823, with Agustín de Iturbide serving as
emperor. Then, with the help of the Austrian and Spanish crowns, Napoleon III of France
installed Maximilian of Austria as Emperor of Mexico. This attempt to create a European-style
monarchy lasted three years, from 1864 to 1867.
Montenegro until 1918 when it merged with Serbia and other areas to form Yugoslavia.
Nepal until May 28, 2008, when King Gyanendra was deposed, and the Federal Democratic Republic
of Nepal was declared. Ottoman Empire from 1876 until 1878 and again
from 1908 until the dissolution of the empire in 1922.
The Kingdom of Afghanistan was a constitutional monarchy under Mohammad Zahir Shah until 1973.
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 May 3, 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. Kingdom of Albania from 1928 until 1939, Albania
was a Constitutional Monarchy ruled by the House of Zogu, King Zog I.
Portugal was a monarchy since 1139 and a constitutional monarchy from 1822 to 1828, and again from
1834 until 1910, when Manuel II was overthrown by a military coup. From 1815 to 1825 it was
part of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves which was a constitutional
monarchy for the years 1820–23. Kingdom of Romania From its establishment
in 1881 until 1947 when Michael I was forced to abdicate by the communists.
Kingdom of Serbia until 1918, when it merged with the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs
into the unitary Yugoslav Kingdom, that was led by the Serbian Karadjordjevic dynasty.
Yugoslavia from 1918 (as Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) until 1929 and from then
(as Kingdom of Yugoslavia) until 1944 when under pressure from the Allies Peter II recognized
the communist government.==Unique constitutional monarchies==
Andorra is the only monarchy where the head of state is vested jointly in two individuals
(“Co-Princes”): the Bishop of Urgell and the President of France.
Andorra, Monaco and Liechtenstein are the only countries with a reigning prince.
Belgium is the only explicit popular monarchy, the formal title of its King being King of
the Belgians rather than King of Belgium. Japan is the only country remaining with an
emperor. Luxembourg is the only country with a grand
duke. Malaysia is the only federal country with
an elective monarchy, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, being selected from among nine state
rulers who are also constitutional monarchs themselves.==See also==
Australian Monarchist League Monarchism
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Locke, John (2003) [1690], hapiro, Ian S, ed., Two Treatises of Government and A Letter
Concerning Toleration (with essays by John Dunn, Ruth W. Grant and Ian Shapiro ed.),
New Haven: Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-10017-5

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