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In today’s class, we will be talking about monarchy, republican and military forms of government. Enjoy the class!
Monarchy, Republican and Military Forms of Government
It is a form of government in which a group, usually a family called the dynasty, embodies the country’s national identity and one of its members, called the monarch, exercises a role of sovereignty. The actual power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic (crowned republic), to partial and restricted (constitutional monarchy), to completely autocratic (absolute monarchy).
Forms of monarchy
In some cases, monarchs are dependent on other powers (see vassals, suzerainty, puppet state, hegemony). In the British colonial era, indirect rule under a paramount power existed, such as the princely states under the British Raj.
In Botswana, South Africa, Ghana and Uganda, the ancient kingdoms and chiefdoms that were met by the colonialists when they first arrived on the continent are now constitutionally protected as regional and/or sectional entities. Furthermore, in Nigeria, though the dozens of sub-regional polities that exist there are not provided for in the current constitution, they are nevertheless legally recognised aspects of the structure of governance that operates in the nation. In addition to these five countries, peculiar monarchies of varied sizes and complexities exist in various other parts of Africa.
The rules for the selection of monarchs varies from country to country. In constitutional monarchies, the rule of succession is generally embodied in a law passed by a representative body, such as a parliament.
In a hereditary monarchy, the position of monarch is inherited according to a statutory or customary order of succession, usually within one royal family tracing its origin through a historical dynasty or bloodline. This usually means that the heir to the throne is known well in advance of becoming monarch to ensure a smooth succession.
In an elective monarchy, monarchs are elected, or appointed by somebody (an electoral college) for life or a defined period, but otherwise serve as any other monarch. There is no popular vote involved in elective monarchies, as the elective body usually consists of a small number of eligible people. Historical examples of elective monarchy include the Holy Roman Emperors (chosen by prince-electors, but often coming from the same dynasty), and the free election of kings of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. For example, Pepin the Short (father of Charlemagne) was elected King of the Franks by an assembly of Frankish leading men; Stanisław August Poniatowski of Poland was an elected king, as was Frederick I of Denmark. Germanic peoples had elective monarchies.
Merits of monarchy
- It brings about a solid Monarchy’s singularity of power provides people with a symbolic and focused area for group loyalty and identity. There will only be one individual who will make the decisions, so they will be made quickly, and there will be fewer arguments with regards to new policies going to be imposed.
- It can lead to leadership stability. A monarch has life tenure and is not subject to national elections, unlike other heads of state under other political systems.
- It offers more savings of Government with the absence of elections. This form of government reduces the huge amounts of expenditure of the country from the elections, as there is no need to elect the next leader. The existing monarch will be the one to choose his or her successor.
- It allows for a non-partisan leadership. Monarchs are born to rule without the obligation to answer to anyone. On the other hand, politicians need to win the elections and reach out to the people to try to win their votes, which is something that monarchs do not experience.
- It encourages respect for the ruler. The masses will have greater respect for their monarch than an elected president, as the latter can rule for only a certain term.
- It lessens cases of corrupt practices. Nations that are being ruled by monarchs experience less corruption. Also, these rulers know that they are not ruling for a term, so they most probably have no lust for money. They do not intend to misuse their authority for corrupt practices.
- It looks into the family as a state of model. A monarch is considered as the country’s father and the subjects are his children. This form of government is an organic kind of human organization that everyone can easily relate to.
- It does not share blames. A monarch would not share the blame or pass it to others once he makes a bad decision in the same way that politicians do. However, it is just him while politicians are hundreds.
- It encourages leadership suitability. An heir to the throne will be taught the proper ways to rule as early as his/her childhood years, while traditional politicians only learn about these things when they are already grown up.
- It is useful for civilized and undeveloped societies. At the beginning of time, man was barbarous and uncivilized—he was not at all disciplined. During such a time, the monarchy was the only form of government that made man disciplined and law-abiding.
Demerits of monarchy
- It might lead to poor leadership. Monarchy requires a single person ruling the entire country as long as he or she lives. This means that the masses do not have the power to remove him or her from leadership even if he is not functioning accordingly.
- It does not allow democratic legitimacy. monarch is not elected or chosen by the people, unlike politicians.
- It might lead to having a leader who might not be a serious person who knows that he or she will rule the country for the rest of his or her life might not take the responsibility to serve for the betterment of the people seriously. He is aware that he or she does not answer to anyone, which can lead to economic disruption.
- It lacks democratic accountability and liability If a monarch has become an inefficient and bad leader, he cannot be held liable by the people.
- It invests much power and fame to a single individual. A monarch is recognized as a supreme legislator, judicator and executor. Though he is helped by personal advisors, he still has the final say, and no other person is allowed to break this.
- Its structure is very difficult to change internally. If monarchs become irresponsible and ineffective, it can be quite difficult for the people to force these leaders out or replace them with those they think are more effective.
- Its hereditary office for its leader is not justifiable. The post of monarchs is the highest, and only a competent person should hold it. If a head of state’s office is hereditary, the leader shall hold it irrespective of his capability, which might create problems for the administration.
- It can degenerate into tyranny. Power can corrupt anyone, and after some time, a king or his successors might degrade themselves and exploit the people, bringing into the administration tyranny.
- It can lead to inequality of wealth in a monarchy type of government, the leader, his ministers and the ruling class would amass wealth, but the common people’s plight would remain miserable. Neither the public would get higher positions nor enjoy any kind of special right.
Republican form of government
The republican system of government is that system in which the sovereignty of the state resides in the people. It can be described as a system in which people elect officials to represent them and take political decisions on their behalf. In this system, the Head of State is elected. Examples republican countries are the United States, France and Ghana.
Features of republican
- Fixed-term of office: In a republican system of government, the constitution prescribes a fixed term of office for the president, usually, four years, but in some cases five or even seven years. The mandate of the president can be renewed only once, after which the president can no longer be constitutionally be elected. Another person must offer him or herself to be elected.
- Periodic elections: In a republic system of government, elections are conducted periodically and all political positions are contested for by individuals. For example, Ghana and the United States, among other republican countries organize general elections every four years.
- Universal adult suffrage: In a republican system of government, elections are held based on universal adult suffrage. This means all qualified adult voters are allowed to cast their ballots.
- The supremacy of the constitution: In a republican system of government, the constitution is the supreme law of the land. Any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of the constitution can be challenged in the court of law. If proven, such law is declared null and void.
- Rule of law: A republican government practices the rule of law is upheld. In other words, a republican government respects all the tenets of the rule of law which include supremacy of the law, equality before the law and the principle of liberty.
- Fundamental human rights: In a republican system, the fundamental human rights of all citizens are guaranteed under a constitution. The clauses that talk about these fundamental rights are also mostly entrenched in the constitution so that it could prevent the government of the day from tampering with it.
A government that is established during or after a military occupation by the victorious country in an armed conflict.
Difference between republicanism and monarchy
The major difference between a republic and a monarchy is the fact that a monarchy is ruled by a monarch, i.e. a king or a queen, whereas in a republic, the people choose who they want to rule them.
Both the republic and the monarchy are old forms of government. There is no known start date to monarchy, it exists back to a time when humans started settling down and started making civilizations. The modern republic system, however, dates back to the Roman civilization, which is credited with having the first practising republic that directly led to the republics of the modern world.
Within the monarchy, the role of the leader, i.e. a king or a queen is passed through generations, from parent to child, and so on. Monarchies believe in the Divine Right of Kings, which states that a king has been selected by God to rule the people.
Republics, on the other hand, stand for the power of the people, which means that in a republic people are allowed to vote for a leader. The person with the most votes is elected as leader. The idea behind a republic is ‘we the people’, basically that the people would have the right to govern themselves.
- Describe the different ways by which monarchies can be formed.
- What are the main features of a hereditary monarchy?
- Why is there no popular vote in an elective monarchy?
- Differentiate between a monarchy and a republican system of government
- Outline five (5) features of a republican form of government.
In our next class, we will be talking about the Constitution and Constitutionalism. We hope you enjoyed the class.
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