List of Pros and Cons of Constitutional Monarchy
We are taught at school that throughout history, kings and queens ruled over lands. For most countries, this is a thing of the past, but in others such as The United Kingdom and Thailand, a Monarch still rules over the land. In the majority of countries where a monarchy still exists, the form adopted is a constitutional monarchy instead of an absolute one. An absolute monarchy is when the presiding king or queen has total power and control over a country whereas a constitutional monarchy acts as a head of state and is bound by set rules and constitutions.
This article is going to run through three pros and three cons of a constitutional monarchy and try to examine why it can be both a good and a bad thing for a country and it’s citizens and try to help build an understanding of how a constitutional monarchy operates.
List of Pros of Constitutional Monarchy
1. The balance of power.
The monarch in power is more of a non-political head of state and is seen as symbolic rather than having control over a countries legal and political situations. When it comes to the running of a country, this lies with government and parliament and the monarch has no power to overrule the system. The good thing about a constitutional monarchy is that it prevents a king or queen from becoming overbearing and controlling.
The government and prime minister act to guide the monarchs governing decisions, but the ruling monarch still has the right to powers such as the dissolution of parliament and giving royal assent to legislation. A monarch has three main rights as the head of state which are the right to be advised, the right to warn and the right to be consulted. While there is an element of power for the monarch, a unification of government and the ruling class allows for a fair distribution of the balance of power and allows the voices of the people of the land to be heard.
2. The preservation of history and culture.
A monarchy can lend itself to creating and maintaining the history, traditions and culture of a country by acting as a visible symbol of a united country. Take, for example, England. England has had a monarchy for more than 1,500 years and there have been 66 monarchs to date. Throughout the history of the reigning monarchs, a sense of culture and tradition has been born. Everyone knows of Henry the eighth and his wives, and Queen Elizabeth II is the world’s current longest reigning monarch.
A monarch can also provide an increase in tourism. The most visited tourist attraction in London is Buckingham palace where people flock to see the historical sights, the changing of the guard and experience the local cultures and traditions. In effect, the ruling monarch becomes a huge part of the expected culture of a country and makes England quintessentially English.
As noted in section 2, a monarchy can date back many hundreds of years into the past. This is also true for the future and the continuity of a monarchy enables cultures, traditions and history to be carried forwards and preserved. There is no expiration on the length of time a monarch will serve and the position is in effect a lifelong one. One of the major benefits of this is that it allows countries to build long lasting and strong connections as the monarch is stable and irreplaceable, unlike countries where their head of state or government is replaced every four years or so.
This continuity leads to stability which benefits not only the citizens of the land but also any countries that they have built strong relations with. Standing steadfast and strong allows a country to become independent, and the line of succession allows this to continue with each new generation of monarch that takes to the throne.
List of Cons of Constitutional Monarchy
1. A countries progression is held back.
When a constitutional monarchy is in place it can become difficult for the government to install internal political changes. The monarchy is intertwined deeply with a countries history, culture and traditions and this can prove to make for difficult progression should the ruling monarch not agree. No matter what political changes are being considered, they must be done so with the ruling monarch in mind.
2. Class entitlement.
Unfortunately, not everyone is born with a silver spoon in their mouth and only a very select few are born to be a monarch. This in effect reinforces the thought system that to be successful you need to be born into the right family and that hard work is not enough. Those born into the ‘upper’ classes believe themselves to be superior to everyone else and feel they are entitled to have power over others.
Another annoyance to the general population is that they are taxed to subsidize a monarchy that they may not want. This is not optional and is seen as every citizen’s duty. The tax pays for the lifestyle, properties and security for the monarchs which many see as excessive and overindulgent.
3. The monarch is permanent.
As a monarch is selected through blood rather than votes, a monarch cannot be removed from their lifelong position. Regardless of how badly the serve their country or any misdemeanors they may perform, a monarch is in effect, invincible. Throughout history, there have been instances of some terrible monarchs who committed atrocities against the people of the land, yet the only way to remove them was via assassination … which did not help the situation as upon the death of the ruling monarch, the next in line ascended to the throne.
So now we have run through the pros and cons of a constitutional monarchy we can better understand how they offer both positives and negatives to a country. Whether they are the best choice for a country, however, is up to the people of the land.