What is the Parliamentary Monarchy (and Its Characteristics)

A parliamentary monarchy is a democratic government system, in which the figure of Head of State is represented by a monarch, whose functions are limited.

The main function of the king (or queen) in a parliamentary monarchy is to represent the state abroad. Although in many cases historical symbols and traditions associated with the royal house of each country are also maintained.

In most current parliamentary monarchies, the limits of the figure of the King are defined by the Constitution and can only be modified by Parliament or the executive power.

Parliamentary monarchies should not be confused with constitutional monarchies.

Countries that function under the form of a parliamentary monarchy

Spain, United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Spanish monarchyInauguration of Felipe VI as Head of the Spanish State.

Characteristics of parliamentary monarchies

Although there are differences between some parliamentary monarchies and others, there are three common characteristics:

  • Democracy: They make the democratic election of the great powers of the State compatible with the figure of the monarch, of a hereditary nature. That is why the functions of the king are regulated by law and do not include decision making on his part.
  • division of powers: The division of powers is common to parliamentary monarchies, where the great powers of the State (executive and legislative) are elected by universal suffrage. In this way, the figure of Head of State is purely representative.
  • Representative and symbolic powers: The figure of Head of State is purely representative and his current functions, in many cases formal or symbolic, are determined by law, not by the will of the monarch.
You may be interested:  Oasisamerica

Difference Between Constitutional and Parliamentary Monarchy

Parliamentary monarchy is often confused with constitutional monarchy. However they are not equivalent.

The constitutional monarchy is one where, despite the separation of powers, the king retains executive power. Therefore, it differs from the parliamentary monarchy in that in the latter the executive power emanates from the parliamentarian, elected democratically. While the monarch appears only as a representative of the Head of State, separated from both executive and legislative power.

As examples of constitutional monarchies are Thailand or Morocco.

See also: Monarchy