Parliamentary Monarchy: Definition, Features & Examples

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Definition of Parliamentary Monarchy

Parliamentary monarchy is a form of government in which the power of a region or country is partially exercised by a monarch (King or Queen), since it is regulated by the legislative (Parliament) and executive power.

Within this government structure, the highest representative is the king (monarch), who exercises the function of head of state. In turn, this is controlled by the head of government, who can be a prime minister or a president of the executive branch, and by the parliament, who is in charge of legislative activities.

Likewise, the laws and decrees issued by the parliament, or executive power, must be ratified and accepted by the King or Monarch. The kings, in parliamentary monarchies, hold office for life.

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The parliamentary monarchy was born in England in 1688, after the Glorious Revolution, when parliament was established as the definitive way to control the functions of the king and limit his excesses, which historically delayed and slowed down the progress of nations.

Features of Parliamentary Monarchy

The main characteristics of the parliamentary monarchy are the following:

  • The king or monarch has partial power, since it is regulated by a parliament.
  • The highest representative is the King, called the head of state.
  • In the parliamentary monarchy,the king reigns but does not rule“, since whoever does so is the head of government (executive power) and the parliament (legislative power).
  • All government actions are regulated by parliament. Similarly, laws and decrees issued by parliament must be ratified and accepted by the monarch.
  • This form of government was born in England, after the Glorious Revolution.

Parliamentary Monarchy and Absolute Monarchy: Differences & Similarities

These types of monarchy have in common that the power of the State is exercised by a single person, whose position prevails for life and is inherited to children or direct relatives.

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However, absolute and parliamentary monarchies have notable differences.

In absolute monarchies, there is no division of powers, that is, the King or Monarch has complete power, even to enact laws. The Absolute monarchies were the main forms of government of the kingdoms throughout history, until they were modified and adapted to more participatory systems.

On the other hand, in parliamentary monarchies, there are executive and legislative powers, which control and limit the power of the monarch which in many cases is limited to the political and international representation of the country.

Examples of Countries with a Parliamentary Monarchy

The following countries maintain the parliamentary monarchy as a political system of government:

Norway Denmark
Spain United Kingdom
Japan Netherlands
Monaco Sweden

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