What Is a Constitutional Monarchy

The term, ‘constitutional monarchy’ is also termed as limited monarchy. Unlike the absolute monarchy, in a constitutional monarchy the monarch rules the country under the limitations imposed by the constitution. Thus, it is needless to say that in this form of governance, the monarch does not enjoy absolute rights and cannot impose rules as per his will. This is the reason as to why the term, ‘limited monarchy’ also is used to refer to this form of Government. Most of the times, the monarch is a hereditary ruler of the state and in a very few cases, the head is nominated. There are many examples of constitutional monarchy being followed in many countries across the world.

It is to be noted here that with the whole world being inclined towards democracy currently, most of the monarchies all over the world were forced to change into constitutional monarchies. However, the process of transition has been gradual. In some countries, the monarchs enjoy special powers and can effect changes in the rule as per their will, but in most of the countries, the real power lies in the parliament and the monarch is just a figurehead of the Government with no powers. The discretionary powers of the monarch vary from one country to another and are decided by the Parliament.

One would not be wrong in terming that the concept of constitutional monarchy came into being in England for the first time, when the Glorious Revolution of 1688 resulted in limiting the powers of the Government and the monarch was reduced to the state of a figurehead with real powers lying in the hands of the Parliament and the Prime Minister. There have been instances wherein Constitutional monarchs have been mere spectators to the anarchy and ‘rule of power’ in their country. The best example to this situation in the modern times is Fascist Italy, wherein Benito Mussolini dominated the Government with the monarch being nothing more than a puppet.

Worth noting would be the scenario in Modern Germany after the process of Unification of Germany was carried on under the leadership of Bismarck. The monarch was allowed to exercise certain amount of control over the proceedings in the state unlike the situation in Britain.

Summing up, in most cases the monarch under a constitutional monarchy is just a figurehead and his approval is a must before any new rule is passed by the constitution. Experts are of the opinion that in the years to come, the form of Government, constitutional monarchy’ will lose its significance and democracy will come into existence in countries that are presently being ruled by constitutional monarchs.