Problems often arise in a monarchy because kings and queens inherit, rather than earn, their thrones. In a democracy, leaders are elected by the people and must be accountable for their actions or they won’t get reelected. A monarch remains in office until he or she dies, is impeached or is unable to lead the people. Even though a monarch isn’t typically viewed as negatively as a true dictator, citizens often perceive monarchs to be unapproachable aristocrats who don’t always have the people’s best interests in mind.
Citizens in countries ruled by monarchs don’t get to vote for their head of state. Monarchs inherit their positions, typically through the blood line, so there’s no need for democratic elections, political party involvement or political debates to determine who sits on the throne. This poses a problem when the monarch’s views and decisions run contrary to public opinion. For example, in 1787 when Louis XVI initiated new tax laws to address France’s post-war debt and ongoing economic struggles, the people revolted against his burdensome mandates. The people stood firm against the king’s strong financial impositions and demanded a more democratic form of government, known as the Estates-General, to make economic and political decisions.
Misuse of Power
Because a monarch isn’t subject to legislation that ensures a balance of power, a king or queen might abuse his or her unrestrained sovereignty. For example, the monarch in Great Britain isn’t subject to the same accountability legislation that keeps Parliament from engaging in shady undertakings. Queen Elizabeth II has tried to remain apolitical and avoid making comments or suggestions about public policy, leaving those decisions to Parliament. However, the queen’s son, Prince Charles, has written letters to political ministers and has intervened in proposed developments, using his position and prowess to gain a sympathetic ear from political officials, according to World Issues 360. Some might perceive this as a misuse of power.
Until Death Do Us Part
Problems often arise in a monarchy because there are no term limits, age restrictions or official codes of moral conduct. As a result, citizens might inherit a young ruler who is inexperienced and ill-equipped to handle the throne, a senile, out-of-touch monarch who isn’t fit to rule, or a ruler who participates in behavior that’s unseemly to the throne. Even though it’s possible to impeach a monarch, the process is often ridden with strife. For example, Edward VIII of England was eventually removed from his throne in 1936 when he refused to give up his relationship with his lover, but it was a tumultuous and scandalous event.
Inherited Wealth and Personal Gain
Power and wealth often go hand in hand. Citizens may disrespect, begrudge or loathe a monarch who has stored up fame and fortune, while remaining unsympathetic to the poor working class who struggle to make ends meet. Even though some leaders of democratic societies are wealthy, their earnings have little to do with their political office or role as a leader. Monarchs accumulate wealth during their reign, as a result of connections with foreign leaders and affluent business people. Some of their wealth is the result of taking the spoils as victors in previous wars. Some people resent the socioeconomic differences and see the monarch as a greedy, undeserved, self-absorbed position of authority. This was the case with King John who ruled England during the beginning of the 13th Century.
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