>Should all countries be republics?

>Republicans argue that republicanism is the next logical step toward a fully democratic constitution, which answers a number of key issues. The British Pressure Group Republic argues that the “monarchy is not only an unaccountable and expensive institution, unrepresentative of modern Britain, it also gives politicians almost limitless power.”

They say that it does this is in a variety of ways:

1 – Royal Prerogative: Former royal powers that allow the Prime Minister to declare war or sign treaties without a vote in Parliament.

2 – The Privy Council: A body of advisors to the monarch, now mostly made up of senior politicians, which can enact legislation without a vote in Parliament.

3 – The Crown-in-Parliament: The principle, which came about when parliament removed much of the monarch’s power, by which Parliament can pass any law it likes – meaning liberties can never be guaranteed.

They say monarchies:

  • Contradict democracy
  • Deny the people a basic right to elect their head of state, and for every citizen to be eligible to hold that office.
  • Devalue democratic legislatures through giving Monarchical prerogative powers to political elites to circumvent the normal democratic process with no accountability.
  • Are a form of ethnic-discrimination by virtue of their hereditary nature
  • Are often gender-discriminative e.g. The British Royal Family uses male primogeniture, which means that the crown is inherited by the eldest son, and is only passed on to a daughter if the monarch has no sons.
  • Demand deference. Under a monarchy people are ‘subjects’ rather than citizens.
  • Are the enemy of merit and aspiration, due to the fact that people become monarch iregardless of their talents and qualifications. They also receive honorary military titles and such that they never earnt
  • Condemn each heir to the throne to an abnormal childhood. This was historically the reason why the anarchist William Godwin opposed the monarchy. Johann Hari has written a book God Save the Queen? in which he argues that every member of the royal family has suffered psychologically from the system of monarchy.
  • Lack impartiality and accountability
  • Are expensive. Republicans claim that the total costs to taxpayers in the UK, including hidden elements (e.g., the Royal Protection security bill) of the monarchy are over £100 million per annum

On the other hand those in favour of monarchies say they:

  • Uphold generations of tradition
  • Bring tourists to the country
  • Provide a safeguard against government instability. Examples of this include the 1981 April Fool’s Day Coup in Thailand and the El Tejerazo coup in Spain when King Bhumibol and King Juan Carlos I respectively stepped in to restore democracy in their countries.
  • Provide an impartial arbiter. People like that their Head of State is not aligned to any particular political, commercial and/or factional interests
  • Provide a focal point for national unity. The monarch is a symbol of the country
  • Monarchs promote the image of their country around the world, having already inherited a reputation and network of contacts ready to exploit
  • Monarchies allow training from an early age

What do you think?

3 comments

  • >I agree wholeheartedly with Republic, particularly regarding the more important constitutional issues of their unaccountability, lack of democracy anti-meritocracy. A monarchy is a shameful medieval relic that is an affront to the very core values of liberal democracy; namely participation, pluralism, meritocracy and the rule of law.It is perhaps more interesting to tackle some of those monarchist arguments:'It upholds generations of tradition'. As did public hangings, the institutional persecution of homosexuals and guided 'tours' of Bedlam.'Bring tourists to the country'. How many visitors see our head of state, from any distance, on a visit? They come to see Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the changing of the guard and so on, just as visitors still flock to Versailles in the French republic.'Provide a check against political instability'. The succession crisis and wars of 1066? The Glorious Revolution? The reliance on near-anonymous ministers when the blind system of hereditary monarchy for life throws up a minor (Henry VI or Edward VI) or incapacitated (George III) monarch? Yeah, dead stable.'Provide an impartial arbiter'. A more sensible argument – one I myself advocate in favour of a selected rather than elected House of Lords – but still flawed. Firstly, if this is to be case surely the arbiter should be chosen on merit (perhaps by both houses of the legislature and a special citizen's panel) and subject to checks and balances, neither of which exist in a monarchy. Secondly, a good constitution with enshrined separation of powers would allow for an elected of state who is subject to appropriate checks and balances to prevent an elective dictatorship. As in so much else, Articles I-III of the US Constitution (republican, of course) are instructive.'The monarchy is a symbol of national unity'. The monarchy makes me physically ashamed of my country. Even if I'm in the minority, many countries (again, the US springs to mind, but so do Germany and France) manage to be at least as patriotic and unified as us (I would argue moreso) without a head of state chosen by virtue of their mother opening her legs at an opportune time.'Monarchies allow training for an early age'. Outside of philosopher's fantasies (Plato's Dionysius; the princely advice literature of the renaissance) those born with a sense of entitlement and who cannot be removed save by force are hardly likely to make fair or sympathetic rulers. Even if that were true, the very notion of being born into such institutionalised political (and accompanying social and economic privilege) is an affront to the liberal democracy I personally hold as paramount, both ethically and politically.Monarchies are an affront to liberty, the rule of law, meriotocracy, democracy, pluralism and all values that should be at the heart of a civilised start. It is, in my eyes, totally inexcusable and barely has an even half-valid argument in favour of it.

  • >In answer to the question, though:I believe in self determination; if states freely choose to have a monarch then that is their business. If they choose well, however, they will not subject themselves to the yoke of such a fawning relic and, I believe, given such a free choice most peoples will, eventually, choose democracy.P.S. to the above post; I realise there are checks and balances (some quite severe) on constitutional monarchs like Elizabeth II. Nonetheless, in our case at least, should the monarch refuse royal assent there is no constitutional means of rectifying the problem save her forcible removal. That, apart from all ethics, is an utterly farcical way of running a state.

  • >Hard to argue with Ross there. Not a lot going for the royals except apathetic inertia (see ozzie votes on republic status over the last while).

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