Advantages and Disadvantages Of Monarchy: While the monarchy is generally considered as a form of government in which the head of the state derives his attire through hereditary succession, any government in which supreme and final authority is in the hands of a single person is a monarchy, whether his office is secured by usurpation, by-election, or by hereditary succession.
If the monarch is merely the nominal head of the state, and others exercise the actual powers of government, the government is, in reality, an aristocracy or a democracy rather than a monarchy. Strictly speaking, a monarchy exists only when the personal will of the head of the State is constantly effective and, in the last resort, a predominant factor in government.
Advantages and Disadvantages Of Monarchy:
Monarchy is probably the oldest form of government and organization that most states have taken during the greater part of human history. It has usually been accompanied by the belief that the monarch is divine in nature or that he rules as an agent of the gods or rules by divine right. It has been upheld by marrying writers, especially in the medieval and early modern period, as the natural and best form of government.
Even recent writers have praised it as superior to other forms. Monarchy has been upheld because it possesses simplicity of or organization and is adapted to prompt and energetic action and consistent and continuous policy.
It secures strength and unity in administration since officials are responsible for a single head and can be held to strict accountability. It avoids the contest of party factions or the government’s control, and for that reason, it is argued that monarchy is best adapted to secure equal justice for all classes in the state. Since the king stands above all parties and classes, he can rule impartially for the state’s best interests as a whole.
Monarchy was well suited to early states’ needs, when it was necessary to impress discipline and habits of obedience on uncivilized peoples and when political consciousness and the ability to take part in government were not yet developed.
Even in modern times, the process of consolidating national states and of making needed reforms found the strong government of a monarchy decidedly valuable. If a good and wise despot could be assured, many arguments could be used to justify this form of government on the ground of efficiency, especially in times of crisis.
On the other hand, experience has shown that monarchy is subject to certain dangers. If the ruler’s office is hereditary, there is no guarantee that a capable person will succeed in office. History is filled with examples of incompetent and unscrupulous hereditary rulers.
Even if the office is filled by some method of selection which aims to avoid the chance of an incompetent ruler, experience shows that when power is concentrated in the hands of a single person, it is likely to be administered in the interest of the monarch and the group that surrounds him, rather than for the equitable advantage of all.
If the king is the source of law, there is no guarantee that they will obey even his own law to his advantage to break it. Even if a monarchy’s government was wise and efficient, it is defective as a form of organization for a civilized and intelligent people. One aim of government should be the development of political interest and loyalty, and social unity. No government in which the people are excluded from taking an active part is likely to stimulate public confidence and support or create active and intelligent citizenship.
Many writers have pointed out the advantages of a hereditary monarch as the nominal head of a state where the actual government is carried on, in his name by a group of ministers responsible to a majority in the legislative body. The influence of such a ruler, if he has the confidence of his people, maybe exercised through the advice and warning which he gives to the ministers, especially as his position places him above the strife and tumult of party politics.
Such an office is also valuable in continuing the historical tradition of the state and serving as a bond of unity and a focus of national patriotism, especially in the case of a scattered empire. Against these advantages may be set the cost of maintaining a royal court, the danger that the monarch will degenerate into a useless idler, and the discrepancy between the theory of hereditary monarchy and the democratic ideals of the present day.
Monarchy represents that form of government where the source of all political authority is to be found in a supreme ruler. All the organs and officers of Government are agents of this ruler to carry out his will. All acts of Government are his acts and derive their validity from his sanction.
All laws are his commands, though they may have been formulated by one of his agents. As the bearer of sovereignty, his authority is supreme, unlimited, and self-determined, both as regards the extent to and how it shall, in fact, be exercised.
Louis XIV of France expressed this idea in the famous phrase “L e tat, c’est moi,” (I am the State); what he really meant was:
“I am the Government and what I say goes.”
This is absolute Monarchy.
The institution of Monarchy is a product of history, and it has grown as a part of the evolution of the State. In the early stages of the State’s development, the Monarchical system was the most beneficial, for it was characterized by singleness of purpose, unity, vigor, and strength. The Monarch combined in him the lawmaker’s functions, the judge, the executive, and the military commander. Thus, he could hold together by his own personal force a society that otherwise might have broken up into may contain elements.
In the beginning, the Monarch was elected and, then, the institution became hereditary, and it is now the normal type, wherever it exists. The early Roman kings were elected. The medieval kings were both hereditary and elected. A king may be cloned in our own times.
Nadir Shah, the father of the last ruler of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah, was an elected king. But it is not a normal feature, and all monarchies are now hereditary. According to the law of primogeniture, a hereditary king enjoys a life long tenure, and the office passes to his heirs.
Absolute Monarchy has existed both in the East and in the West up to very recent times. In the East, the leading example of a government of this character was that of Japan. In the eighties of the last century, Japan decided to abolish its old government system and establish in its place one corresponding to modern political ideas as represented by the existing governments of Europe and America.
But even the new Constitution (1889) established a type of absolute monarchy. Article of the Constitution clearly stated that the Empire of Japan should be reigned over and governed by a line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal.
Barton Ito, in his “Commentaries on the Constitution of the Empire of Japan,” explained the meaning of the phrase reigned over and governed and commented: “it is meant that the Emperor on his throne combines in himself the sovereignty of the State and the government of the country and his subjects.” In the West, the two most important examples of governments resting on an absolute basis were those of Russia before the Revolution of 1917 and Germany immediately before adopting the Weimar Constitution of l9i9.
The despotic king always claimed that he got his authority direct from God, that he was God’s vicegerent on earth, ruled by divine right, and that he was answerable to none except God. This belief in the divine right of the kings to rule prevailed in all countries. In China, the Emperor was described as the “Son of Heaven,” He claimed to rule under the mandate he had received from Heaven.
Referring to Europe and Britain, Bryce says, “from the fifth to sixteenth-century whoever asked what the source bf legal sovereignty was and what the moral claim of the sovereign to the obedience of subjects would have been answered that God has appointed certain powers to govern the world and that it would be a sin to resist His ordinance.” The king was, accordingly, free from all human limitations. He was accountable to God alone and not to his subjects. Some kings, no doubt, took a high view of their duties and governed well, and yet they were subject to no restraints, except the law of God.
Merits of Absolute Monarchy:
Perhaps, there could have been no better form of government than absolute Monarchy for disciplining the uncouth and uncivilized people who had emerged out of barbarism. John Stuart Mill rightly said, “Despotism is a legitimate mode of government for dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means be justified by actually effecting that end ” Absolute Monarchy possesses the merits of strength, vigor, the energy of action, promptness of decision, unity of counsel, continuity, and consistency of policy.
Undivided counsel, promptness of decision, and a consistent policy are the essential requisites of a good and efficient administration, particularly during periods of national crises and emergencies. Monarchy, therefore, comes as a beneficial antidote to chaos or a weak government History is full of examples when the rule of one has been reimposed as a means of protecting the interests of the people at large from the rapacity of the few. The English supported their strong Tudor kings to be their protection against the lawlessness of the armed nobility.
As all the powers of government, executive, legislative, judicial, and military are concentrated in the Monarch, he can keep a greater uniformity of purpose in the State. A sagacious king having sturdy commonsense can easily secure the best advice and act upon it with confidence.
His policy is more stable and consistent than the shifting policy of the assembly in a democratic government. An assembly is usually guided by sentiments and is swayed by the arguments of the politicians. Moreover, a Monarch generally takes a very high view of his duties.
He is free to select his officials according to his own pleasure and make them work according to his directions. As the officials can be held to strict accountability, they run the administration to the best of their ability and capacity. The absolute Monarchies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, says Bryce, “saw many reforms in European countries, which no force less than that of a strong monarchy would have carried through. ”
Defects of Absolute Monarchy:
But no man is fit enough to exercise absolute power. A despot crushes his subjects to the earth and leaves them nothing they can call their own. Even a good despot teaches his subjects to mind their own private interests and leaves everything else to the government.
Absolute government is a government by one person, and he administers according to his own good sense of what can be good and right for his subjects. History tells us that the good of the subjects has really meant the interests of the ruler himself. He has never cherished the interests of the subjects. If he does, his absolutism disappears. Moreover, a good king, under a system of hereditary monarchy, is a sheer chance or accident.
There is no guarantee that capable, capable, and benevolent rulers must always succeed to the throne. History tells us that imbeciles and fools have been the rule, whereas the statesmen and sage rulers have been the exceptions. A hereditary ruler, says Leacock, seems on the face of things as absurd as the hereditary mathematician or hereditary poet laureate.
Even if it be admitted that an absolute Monarchy is a good form of government, we, who are brought up in the twentieth century, do not believe in good government unless self-government, for good government is no substitute for self-government.
No government which does not rest upon the affections of the people, which does not stimulate among them an interest in public affairs and create an active, intelligent, and alert citizenship, can be called ideal, and, certainly, no government from which the participation of the people in some form is excluded will ever be able to produce such a body of citizens. An absolute monarch dare not allow liberty and rights to his subjects. He does not inspire in them a vigorous political vitality, patriotic loyalty, and social solidarity.
If he does, he invites his own demise as an absolute monarch. He will adopt all measures to establish his authority, and it remains unquestionable. To adopt measures that help to infuse in his subjects the spirit of awakening and allows them to enjoy rights and other freedoms will spell the destruction of his own authority and most probably his own annihilation.
Limited Monarchy is that type of government in which the Monarch’s authority is limited either by the prescriptions of a written constitution or by certain fundamental conventions, as in Britain. Sometimes the constitution is promulgated by the ruler himself.
Sometimes it has been forced upon him by a successful revolution. But whatever be the cause, limited Monarchy is a constitutional government, and it is, in principle, the republican form of government.
The only difference between the two is that under a system of limited Monarchy, the chief executive Head of the State is a hereditary king. In contrast, in a Republic, the chief executive, usually called, President, as in the United States of America and India, is elected for several years. After the expiry of his term of office, if not re-elected, he joins the ranks of the State’s ordinary citizens.
But both the constitutional king, under a limited Monarchy, and the President of a Republic exercise authority as ordained by the Constitution or conventions as in Britain.
They cannot go beyond it. In a limited Monarchy, the authority of the king is nominal. The real functionaries are his ministers, who are elected members of the legislature and belong to the majority party. They remain in office as long as they can command a majority and retain the legislature’s confidence.
The king cannot dismiss them at his pleasure. Nor can they be chosen at random. Britain is a typical example of a constitutional monarchy where the King or Queen reigns but does not rule.
Uses of Limited Monarchy:
The very fact that the authority of the Monarch is limited goes to show that in essence, it is a democratic form of Government; the King or Queen in Britain, as Bagehot remarks, has the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn beyond this he or she cannot go.
He or she does not exercise any real authority. The actual government is carried on by ministers who represent the majority party in the legislature. The legislature renews its mandate after every four or five years when General Elections are held.
Limited Monarchy, therefore, gives the people the real opportunity to participate in public affairs activities and elect administrators who rule the country according to their behest. It is the people who, in the last resort, are the ultimate sovereigns.
The chief merit of a limited Monarchy in Britain is the hereditary nature of the ruler. By a long and uninterrupted tenure of office, the King or Queen gains mature administrative experience to guide his or her ministers, who are generally amateurs in the art of administration.
He or she exercises what Lowell calls the unifying, signifying, and stabilizing influence. Moreover, the Monarch belongs to no party, whereas his or her ministers belong to one.
As such, the Monarch is an umpire in the midst of rival parties, whose main concern is to see that the game of politics is played according to rules.
The days of absolute Monarchy are over. Now even King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, who was the solitary example of an absolute Monarch, was ultimately replaced by Prince Faisal due to the decision taken by the Council of Ministers and the Consultative Assembly.
The powers of Kings, in all countries where Monarchy persists, have been limited either by the prescriptions of a written constitution or by fundamental conventions that form the basis of the Constitution.
In Iran, Shah Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was the national symbol, and his council of ministers really exercised powers vested in him. Constitutional monarchy is the only way now to maintain the hereditary principle and royal dignity. A limited Monarchy, according to Woodrow Wilson, is one whose powers have been adapted to the interests of the people and the maintenance of individual liberty.
Roughly speaking, the constitutional government may be said to have had its rise at Runnymede when the barons of England exacted the Magna Carta from John. From a King arose, by slow and steady progress, the institution of Kingship and the Monarch now reigns, he or she does not rule. To put it in legal form, the King or Queen can do no wrong.