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Monarchism is the advocacy of the system of monarchy or monarchical rule. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government independent of any specific monarch, whereas one who supports a particular monarch is a royalist. One opposing form of government to a monarchy is a Republic; conversely, the opposition to monarchical rule is referred to as republicanism.
Depending on the country, a royalist may advocate for the rule of the person who sits on the throne, a regent, a pretender, or someone who would otherwise occupy the throne but has been deposed.
Monarchical rule is among the oldest political institutions. Monarchies have existed in some form since ancient Sumeria. Monarchy has often claimed legitimacy from a higher power (in early modern Europe the divine right of kings, and in China the Mandate of Heaven).
In England, royalty ceded power elsewhere in a gradual process. In 1215, a group of nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, which guaranteed its barons certain liberties and established that the king's powers were not absolute. In 1687–88, the Glorious Revolution and the overthrow of King James II established the principles of constitutional monarchy, which would later be worked out by Locke and other thinkers. However, absolute monarchy, justified by Hobbes in Leviathan (1651), remained a prominent principle elsewhere. In the 18th century, Voltaire and others encouraged "enlightened absolutism", which was embraced by the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II and by Catherine II of Russia.
In 1685 the Enlightenment began. This would result in new anti-monarchist ideas which resulted in several revolutions such as the 18th century, American Revolution and the French Revolution. Which were both additional steps in the weakening of power of European monarchies. Each in its different way exemplified the concept of popular sovereignty upheld by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. 1848 then ushered in a wave of revolutions against the continental European monarchies.
World War I and the subsequent Interbellum
World War I and its aftermath saw the end of three major European monarchies: the Russian Romanov dynasty, the German Hohenzollern dynasty, including all other German monarchies and the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg dynasty.
The rise of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 provoked an increase in support for monarchism; however, efforts by Hungarian monarchists failed to bring back a royal head of state, and the monarchists settled for a regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, to represent the monarchy until it could be restored. Horthy was regent from 1920 to 1944.
In similar wise the 1938 autocratic state of Franco in Spain claimed to have reconstituted the Spanish monarchy in absentia (and in this case ultimately yielded to a restoration, in the person of King Juan Carlos).
In 1920s Germany a number of monarchists gathered around the German National People's Party which demanded the return of the Hohenzollern monarchy and an end to the Weimar Republic; the party retained a large base of support until the rise of Nazism in the 1930s.
After World War II
With the arrival of socialism in Eastern Europe by the end of 1947, the remaining Eastern European monarchies, namely the Kingdom of Romania, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Kingdom of Albania, the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, were all abolished and replaced by socialist republics.
The aftermath of World War II also saw the return of monarchist and republican rivalry in Italy, where a referendum was held on whether the state should remain a monarchy or become a republic. The republican side won the vote by a narrow margin, and the modern Republic of Italy was created.
Monarchism as a political force internationally has substantially diminished since the end of the Second World War, though it had an important role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and also played a role in the modern political affairs of Nepal. Nepal was one of the last states to have had an absolute monarch, which continued until King Gyanendra was peacefully deposed in May 2008 and the country became a federal republic. One of the world's oldest monarchies was abolished in Ethiopia in 1974 with the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie.
The majority of current monarchies are constitutional monarchies. In most of these, the monarch wields only symbolic power, although in some, the monarch does play a role in political affairs. In Thailand, for instance, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned from 1946 to 2016, played a critical role in the nation's political agenda and in various military coups. Similarly, in Morocco, King Mohammed VI wields significant, but not absolute power.
Liechtenstein is a democratic principality whose citizens have voluntarily given more power to their monarch in recent years.
There remain a handful of countries in which the monarch is the true ruler. The majority of these countries are oil-producing Arab Islamic monarchies like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Other strong monarchies include Brunei and Eswatini.
Justifications for monarchism
Absolute monarchy stands as an opposition to anarchism and, additionally from the Age of Enlightenment, liberalism, communism and socialism.
Otto von Habsburg advocated a form of constitutional monarchy based on the primacy of the supreme judicial function, with hereditary succession, mediation by a tribunal is warranted if suitability is problematic.
Nonpartisan head of state and unifying force
British political scientist Vernon Bogdanor justifies monarchy on the grounds that it provides for a nonpartisan head of state, separate from the head of government, and thus ensures that the highest representative of the country, at home and internationally, does not represent a particular political party, but all people. Bogdanor also notes that monarchies can play a helpful unifying role in a multinational state, noting that "In Belgium, it is sometimes said that the king is the only Belgian, everyone else being either Fleming or Walloon" and that the British sovereign can belong to all of the United Kingdom's constituent countries (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), without belonging to any particular one of them.
Safeguard for liberty
The International Monarchist League, founded in 1943, has always sought to promote monarchy on the grounds that it strengthens popular liberty, both in a democracy and in a dictatorship, because by definition the monarch is not beholden to politicians.
British-American libertarian writer Matthew Feeney argues that European constitutional monarchies "have managed for the most part to avoid extreme politics"—specifically fascism, communism, and military dictatorship—"in part because monarchies provide a check on the wills of populist politicians" by representing entrenched customs and traditions. Feeny notes that
European monarchies - such as the Danish, Belgian, Swedish, Dutch, Norwegian, and British - have ruled over countries that are among the most stable, prosperous, and free in the world.
Human desire for hierarchy
In a 1943 essay in The Spectator, "Equality", British author C.S. Lewis criticized egalitarianism, and its corresponding call for the abolition of monarchy, as contrary to human nature, writing,
Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.
Support for the restoration of monarchy
The following is a list of countries and opinion polls for the restoration of abolished monarchies in those countries.
- ^ a b c d Figures for Austria is the average percentage of supporters from several opinion polls taken prior to November 2018; as reported by EFE.
- ^ In the same question, 22 per cent of respondents answered that they were not opposed to a monarchy in principle, but could not think of a person "worthy of the Russian throne".
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A republic, according to the modern usage of the word, signifies a political community which is not under monarchical government ... in which one person does not possess the entire sovereign power.
- ^ "Definition of Republic". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch ... a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law
- ^ "The definition of republic". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. ... a state in which the head of government is not a monarch or other hereditary head of state.
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- ^ Showed support for the British monarchy in his documentary film Metro-Land (1973).
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- ^ Expressed support for the British monarchy in the TV series Royalty A-Z (2002). Narrator of The Royal Story.
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- ^ "A lot of people of my generation have decided in part because of how important a unifier for the country the Queen has been that actually [the monarchy] is a better system - rationally." (2002)
- ^ "The monarchy stands for everything that I love and I feel proud to be British. Yes, I am a royalist." (2007)
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- ^ Referred to herself as a Monarchist on the debate show The Pledge (2016).
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Back home, Cartier impressed Upper Canadians with his unabashed anglophilia: he was a passionate monarchist who named his third daughter Reine-Victoria and believed that the Conquest in 1763 had saved Lower Canada from the misery and shame of the French Revolution.
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As a Canadian nationalist and constitutional monarchist, he firmly believed that the lieutenant governor was considerably more than a figurehead...
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[s]ome people think the NDP may want to get rid of the monarchy but I can assure you that's absolutely not the case. My Dad was a big time monarchist and so am I.
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Seeing me, she exclaimed, "You again!" I instantly replied, "I am the monarchist from Quebec."
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Paradox defines him... He's a monarchist who loves royalty, yet he delights in satirizing them.
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