Last Updated on March 12, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
By dictionary definition, a monarchy is a form of government in which a single person chosen through heredity has complete authority over the state.
To ensure a fair power-sharing system in the government, constitutional monarchies were established in various states. Here, the monarch has his/her power but has to abide by the rules of the constitution that is formed through discussions with the parliament.
History of Monarchy
When observing history, it is quite evident how much of an impact monarchy has had on the world and its workings. In early times, the monarch was considered to be a divine person and deification of the ruler was a common culture.
The coronation of the ruler by a bishop or pope in Rome and sacral functions held for the ruler are some examples of deification. In protection of absolute monarchy in Europe, a political doctrine stated that ‘the kings derived their authority from God and could not be held accountable for their actions by any earthly authority such as the parliament’.
As time passed on, people let go of this notion to come to a realization that a monarch was powerless and remained at that post mainly because of the nobility of the state and their powers.
It was during the renaissance period in Europe and during the age of Pharaohs in Egypt that absolute monarchy led to the sufferings of the citizens, who were exploited by the ruler. The riots in Europe after the absolutist rule completely changed the system by bringing rise to new forms of monarchial ruling like constitutional monarchy and nationalist monarchy, which allowed for a balance in the system.
In the modern era, nations with monarchy are mostly controlled by political legislation formed by the people and the ruler remains as the symbolic head of state. However, Arab states and a few other regions still function with a monarch as a person with absolute power.
Advantages of Monarchy
1. Reduces partisanship and creates a sense of unity
A monarchical system of government eliminates the need for different parties focusing on different ideologies. Instead, the monarch, with his designees look after the state and though there are departments focusing on different issues each, the lack of competition between the departments discourages polarization immediately. The monarch also acts as a symbol of unity for the citizens when they are looking for a common ground to relate themselves to.
1. Faster Decision-making Process
Unlike parliamentary systems which require a vote from the majority for a law to be passed and then have to be signed by the legislative heads, the decision-making process in monarchy comes to an end with the opinion of the ruler. This allows the government to act immediately at times of need.
2. Increases Government Savings
A monarchical system of government eliminates the need for elections, which utilizes a major part of government funds. The amount of money saved can be utilized by the government to improve the standard of living of the citizens.
3. Smooth Transition of Power
In a monarchy, the next ruler is already chosen and is known by the citizens, avoiding riots and protests of citizens after the ruler has been announced. This is quite useful in case of abdication by the current ruler or in case of the sudden death of the ruler as the next monarch takes over immediately.
4. Trained Leaders
In the past, there was no guarantee that the heir to the throne would be someone who could handle all the responsibilities that come with it. But in the modern age, crown princes are trained from a young age and are well-educated on political matters, at times much more than the people’s elected representative. The media’s scrutiny on monarchs also prevents the future leader from engaging in futile and unpleasant affairs. Thus, a trained ruler will take over when it is time.
5. A Stable and Balanced Government
A monarchy comes in various different forms which allow for a balanced system with a legislative body elected by the people and a monarch who has a fair share of power but is limited by a Constitution formed by the people’s elected representatives. This allows for people’s views to be considered along with the sense of unity in a nation that comes with having a common ruler.
Disadvantages of Monarchy
1. May Lead to Tyranny
For a monarch with absolute power, it will be quite easy to be blinded by the authority. Misuse of authority for the oppression of the poorer sections of the society due to a tyrannical ruler would inevitably give rise to riots, leaving many suffering and the nation in ruins.
2. Lack of Diversity in the Government
For the government to work according to the needs of the citizens, it is necessary that there are people within the government conveying the needs of a particular class of the society to those in power. Diversity in representatives in the government means diversity in the laws formed and that the laws formed will be for the good of all different communities.
However, in a monarchy, the opinion of one person is the law.
3. Changes according to the ruler
A good ruler would lead to a well-managed nation while a poor leader could destroy all that his ancestors had worked so hard for. Whether the predecessors of a highly efficient ruler would continue the legacy or not, we can never be too sure.
Also, there are cases where a ruler is crowned at a very young age due to the sudden death of the predecessor. For nations with absolute monarchy, this can lead to instability in the government.
4. Unparalleled Power of the Monarch
There is little to nothing that the people can do to oppose the monarch in an absolute monarchy rule. Though constitutional monarchy allows representation of people in the government, the amount of power vested in the monarch is still quite high and can be used by the monarch as per their wishes.
As of today, most of the countries have adopted more democratic forms of government and the reminiscence of the monarchy is bittersweet with all its pros and cons.
Monarchy, while having its fair share of advantages, is still not accepted by many due to the amount of power given to a single person. Hence, it is the nature of this one person that determines the fate of the nation. With good, all shall prosper. With bad, even the great shall fall.