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Indian Polity

Types of Governments

  • 10 Sep 2022
  • 9 min read

For Prelims: Constitutional Monarchy, Forms of Government, Commonwealth of Nations

For Mains: Constitutional Monarchy, Forms of Government, Commonwealth of Nations

Why in News?

Recently, King Charles III has taken Oath as Head of State in the British Constitutional Monarchy after the demise of Queen Elizabeth II.

  • Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s Longest-Reigning Monarch died after 70 years on the throne at the age of 96.

Who was Queen Elizabeth II?

  • Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, officially Elizabeth II was born on 21st April, 1926, London, England.
  • Elizabeth was the elder daughter of Prince Albert, duke of York, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
  • In 1947 Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey.
  • Their first child, Prince Charles, was born in 1948.
  • She was crowned at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, in front of 8,500 assembled guests.

What are the Different types of Monarchy?

  • Constitutional Monarchy:
    • Constitutional monarchy is a system of government in which a monarch shares power with a constitutionally organized government.
    • The monarch may be the de facto head of state or a purely ceremonial leader, who only performs the formalities but does not have real power as the Prime Minister.
    • The constitution allocates the rest of the government’s power to the legislature and judiciary.
      • Countries with Constitutional monarchies include England, Belgium, Cambodia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Thailand.
  • Absolute Monarchy:
    • An absolute monarchy is a form of government in which a single person—usually a king or queen—holds absolute, autocratic power.
    • In absolute monarchies, the succession of power is typically hereditary, with the throne passing among members of a ruling family.
    • In a monarchy, state authority is held by a single family, which passes down the throne from generation to generation.
    • Arising during the Middle Ages, absolute monarchy prevailed in much of western Europe by the 16th century. Along with France, as epitomized by King Louis XIV, absolute monarchs ruled other European countries, including England, Spain, Prussia, and Austria.
      • Countries with Absolute Monarchies include, Brunei, Eswatini, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Vatican City, United Arab Emirates

What are the Roles and Powers of British Monarchy?

  • About:
    • The British Monarchy is a constitutional monarchy, because being the Sovereign is Head of State, the ability to make and pass legislation resides with an elected Parliament.
    • The British monarch reigns but does not rule that means in spite of being head of the state he/she does not have Real Power.
    • The monarch has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters.
  • Roles and Powers:
    • Appointment of Prime Minister and government:
      • The Monarch appoints the Prime Minister who enjoys the majority support of MPs.
      • Once the leader of a party wins general elections, the Head of State invites them to Buckingham Palace to form the government.
      • The discretionary power to appoint or dismiss a Prime Minister no longer lies with the monarch.
    • Opening the Parliament:
      • The Monarch opens the Parliamentary year with the State Opening Ceremony, during which he/she delivers an address about the executive's planned policies and priorities in the House of Lords.
    • Assenting legislation:
      • The sovereign gives his/her Royal Assent to the bills passed in the House of Lords and Commons but that is now essentially a rubber-stamping exercise as the last time a bill denied the Royal Assent was in 1707 by Queen Anne.
    • Commonwealth Realms:
      • The Monarch is also the head of the Commonwealth of Nations, an association which is a product of the erstwhile British empire.
        • It consists of 56 independent nations with a population of 2.4 billion.

What are the other Forms of Governments?

  • Democracy:
    • People in democracies can vote for their preferred representatives or political parties during elections and thus citizens can elect members to legislatures such as the Parliament.
    • Democracy refers to governance that is run by, for, and for the people.
      • Countries follow democracy include, India, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, The USA etc.
  • Republic:
    • Republics and democracies both provide a political system in which citizens are represented by elected officials who are sworn to protect their interests.
    • In a pure democracy, laws are made directly by the voting majority leaving the rights of the minority largely unprotected.
    • In a republic, laws are made by representatives chosen by the people and must comply with a constitution that specifically protects the rights of the minority from the will of the majority.
      • The United States, Mexico, India, France, Kenya, South Korea, Peru, and Indonesia are only a few to republics.
  • Aristocracy:
    • An aristocracy is a government-administered by members of the ruling class, who are generally from affluent families, families with a specific set of ideas, or individuals from a specific location.
    • Aristocracy differs from nobility in that nobility refers to a single lineage ruling, whereas aristocracy refers to a few or more bloodlines ruling, or rulers selected differently.
  • Dictatorship:
    • A dictatorship is when a country's government is governed by a single individual who has complete authority over its citizens.
      • Originally, dictators were appointed by the Roman Republic to rule during times of war.
    • A dictator's control in contemporary times is unaffected by laws, constitutions, or other social and political institutions, and can persist for years, if not decades.
      • Many Latin American nations became dictatorships when the Spanish Empire fell apart.
    • Parts of World War II were fought between dictators, and dictators eventually controlled new countries in Asia and Africa. Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and other tyrants are examples.
      • Republic of the Congo, North Korea, Cameron are a few of the Dictating Countries.
  • Oligarchy:
    • A government dominated by a small number of influential people is known as an oligarchy. Oligarchy is also considered to be the distorted form of Aristocracy.
    • These individuals may or may not distribute power equitably. Rather than one person making all of the choices or instructing others what to do, as in a dictatorship, a democratic monarchy is one in which everyone makes decisions collectively.
    • Because only a few individuals are allowed to alter things, an oligarchy differs from a real democracy.
    • It is not necessary for an oligarchy to be hereditary or passed down from father to son.
    • An oligarchy is ruled by a group of influential people rather than a single king.
      • In modern times, “oligarchy” is generally applied to China and Iran. China describes itself as a communist “people's republic,” but leadership of the country has been maintained by a select few for several decades.

Source: IE

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