Forms of Government
We are continuing with our series on the various forms of governments that exists in the world.
- Monarchy is one of the oldest forms of government, where absolute power is vested in the hands of a single ruler generally the king.
- In ancient period, Kings used the divine right to rule as the justification for their authority. Many kings used to claim to be descendants of Gods or even themselves as Demi Gods to increase legitimacy.
- The Egyptian Pharaohs claimed to be descended from Horus. The ancient Persian emperor Xerxes the first considered himself to be a God.
- While modern Kings do not claim divinity, a large number of them do retain control over their country’s religion either directly, as in the case of the British Monarch who is the head of the Anglican Church or indirectly as in the case of Saudi Arabia where the House of Saud is able to influence the religious practices through the clergy.
- It may surprise many to know that the Indian government also recognises 5 kings are hereditary rulers in India. This is due to an agreement between these tribal states and the British Indian government.
- They still receive a monthly political pension by the Government of India even though all privy purses for the Princely states of India were stopped in 1970.
- The five kingdoms are Daher-Amala, Linga, Gadhvi, Vasurna and Pimpri.
- Modern Monarchies can be either democracies or totalitarian states depending on the powers awarded to the monarch and the role he/she plays in the country.
- A constitutional Monarchy is where the powers of the Monarch are curbed or controlled under a constitution.
- The powers if the monarch in such a country can vary depending on the limits imposed on him/her by the constitution.
- Countries like the United Kingdom or Japan has the monarch as just a symbolic head (de jure head), while the actual powers are held by a democratically elected Parliament and government.
- These countries have maintained their Monarchies as a form of historical tribute or due to socio-religious reasons.
- However, there are some constitutional Monarchies in which the Monarch still retains some form of authority, such as in the countries like Liechtenstein or Thailand.
- In these countries, the Monarch is more than just a figure head and enjoys actual authority, though does not enjoy absolute authority.
- In an absolute Monarchy, the powers of the Monarch are not limited and democracy if present will be limited to local bodies.
- This form of Monarchy can be seen in most of the West Asian Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain etc.
- Absolute Monarchies are a form of totalitarian regimes in which the Monarch has the power over all the branches of government i.e., Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
- This form of government is becoming rare and rare as the world becomes more developed and people become more aware of their rights, it becomes harder for monarchies to justify their absolute control over the state.
- This was seen in multiple countries such as the Czaric Russia, Nepal, Thailand, and others where the Monarch had to relinquish his/her absolute authority as a result of a coup or revolution.
- Therefore, most of the current monarchies are trying to devolve their authority in their own term. This helps the monarch preserve a large portion of their power while appearing modern and pro-democratic to the people.