Constitutional Monarchy

What is the Constitutional Monarchy Definition?

Constitutional monarchy is a system of government in which a monarch, such as a king or queen, is head of state but does not have absolute power. The power of the monarch is limited by the constitution. Constitional monarchies are quite different from absolute monarchies, which grant the monarch total authority over the country.

Even among constitutional monarchies, the powers of the ruler vary widely. In some constitutional monarchies, the ruler still has significant power. In others, often called "crowned republics," the ruler is limited to ceremonial duties.

Examples of Constitutional Monarchies

Though the number of monarchies in the world has been shrinking rapidly for hundreds of years, there are still quite a few constitutional monarchies. Many countries in Europe, such as Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Lichtenstein are constitutional monarchies.

Lietchenstein and Monaco are the only countries in Europe whose monarch still retains significant political power. In the Arab World, countries like Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, and Bahrain have constitutional monarchs who still have important political duties.

Crowned Republics

The majority of constitutional monarchies in the world, especially in Europe, are parliamentary monarchies. This system of government is also called a "crowned republic." In a parliamentary monarchy, the monarch has little political power. They may have no political duties, or they may be very limited in how they can perform their political duties.

Countries that are ruled by parliamentary monarchies include Spain, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the Netherlands. In these countries, the monarch mostly performs ceremonial duties. They essentially serve as a figurehead behind which the people can rally.

It is important to note that the monarch in a parliamentary monarchy may still have significant influence over the country's governance. This influence comes from their popularity with the voting public, not from any duties. Many parliamentary monarchs, such as the ruling family of the United Kingdom, avoid trying to overtly influence voters to support specific candidates or legislation.

The Differences Between a Constitutional Monarchy & an Absolute Monarchy

The two main types of monarchies are constitutional monarchies and absolute monarchies. In an absolute monarchy, the ruler holds the same power as a dictator. They can change the country's laws or simply ignore them as they please. Throughout history, this ruling style created problems for the common people, which is why constitutional monarchies became more prevalent, at least in the western world.