Res Publica

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Issue 1, 1991 Expand all abstracts

    In a constitutional monarchy, the Sovereign acts according to constitutional rules, rather than arbitrarily. That is so even in a country such as Britain which has no codified constitution. Today the rules of constitutional monarchy whose purpose it is to preserve the political neutrality of the Sovereign, serve to protect her from political involvement. Her powers remain essentially residual - selection of a Prime Minister and refusal of a dissolution under very rare circumstances. The main influence of the Sovereign, however, comes through her exercise of the three rights identified by Bagehot - the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to wam; and through her role as Head of the Commonwealth. The enormous popularity of the monarchy in Britain today arises because it has come to be divorced from partisan politics, and so can act as a focus of national unity.

Vernon Bogdanor

Access_open De monarchie in Nederland

Authors Adrian F. Manning

    An analysis of the functioning of the Dutch monarchy in the 20th century is hardly possible by lack of documents. For the study of the contacts between the Head of State and the Cabinet-ministers a scholar needs the documents from the Cabinet of the Queen and from the Royal Archives. The archives of the Cabinet of the Queen are now accessible up to the Second World War, but the Royal Archives are closed from 1898. The Dutch people has a sympathy for the dynasty (Orange-Nassau) and by that a deduced sympathy for the monarchy. There was no real criticism on the functioning of the following queens Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix. Tbe Heads of State accomodated themselves to the political and social developments. By that the monarchy lengthened its life. The formation of a new Cabinet is an essential task of the Queen. Wilhelmina (a rather authoritarian character) did not hide her personal views but respected carefully the constitutional framework and already in the beginning of this century she asked the consulted political leaders to confirm their advices by letter. The possibility to play a role seems to be more limited since 1945.

Adrian F. Manning

Access_open Denmark, a limited monarchy

Authors Tage Kaarsted

    The article describes the history of Danish constitutional monarchy (since 1849). It analyzes the complicated procedure in connection with government formation. The Queen must avoid being implied in party polities. She will always act on the responsibility of the Prime Minister, but the role of the Private Secretary is important. The Queen does not take part in policy-making at all. Her functions, be they only formal, are of great symbolic significance. Gallup polls indicate the popularity of monarchy. The Queen is considered the impartial head of state. She is respected as a talented artist. The Queen does not take part in business life.

Tage Kaarsted

Access_open Sweden, the crown of the state

Authors Torbjörn Larsson

    Tbe role of Swedish royal family has been reduced to an almost exclusively ceremonial one during the 20th century, and this reduction of functions has possibly been carried out further in Sweden than in any other monarchy - with the exception of Japan. The Swedish King is for example no longer responsible even pro forma for the formation of the Government, but it took a long time before he was thus stripped of all his power. By the mid-1800s his influence on the economy had been greatly diminished, and by 1905 (when the union with Norway was dissolved) bis influence on foreign policy had also vanished. Tbe last time a Swedish King ex erts any real power is in 1914, when he insisted on choosing bis own advisors. In reality he only managed to substitute a government he disliked for one which he liked better (even if it wasn't his first choice). But after 1917, when the King is forced to accept a government which included Social Democrats, his influence is reduced to virtually nothing. Officially, however, the King is not reduced to figure-head until 1974, when the new Swedish constitution was passed. Tbe new constitution stated, after a great deal of negociating between the Social Democrats and the nonsocialist parties, that Sweden should remain a monarchy hut the Head of State should only have a ceremonial role. Apparently no one in the royal f amily had any serious objections to this new order and they didn't try to stop it. Power and influence is not, however, only related to the laws of a country. The King and the whole royal family still exert a good deal of influence over the Swedish people by setting an example. The image the royal family wants to project is that of traditional conservative values; they are all in f a vor of a strong defence, church going and f amily life. The present King has given bis opinion on a few occasions on rather controversial issues - whether this has been part of a strategy or simply a mistake is impossible to say. All in all the present royal family seems to be quite satisfied with their position as figure-head on the Swedish barge, which, according to the public opinion polls, the Swedish people consider to be a very fitting role for a modern monarch.

Torbjörn Larsson

Access_open Le Roi d'Espagne: symbole et arbitre

Authors Manuel Jimenez de Parga

    Since the instauration of the parliamentary democracy in Spain in the second half of the seventies, the monarchy is an essential part of the system. As both the attitude and the behaviour of Juan Carlos I in the dramatic events of February 23th, 1981 and the Constitution as well, point out, the king has to watch attentively over public affairs and has to protect the basic values of the system. He is also the arbitrator who has to handle cleverly, inventively and carefully the marginal cases which the legislator cannot foresee. The king furthermore, is a symbol. Both the function of arbitrator and the symbolic function have to be taken into account to fully understand the monarchy in the Spanish parliamentary system.

Manuel Jimenez de Parga

Access_open The monarchy in a parliamentary system

Authors Hans Daalder

    A discussion of the political role of monarchs in contemporary Western Europe is complicated by three uncritical preconceptions: the traditionalist-monarchist view of Kings as transcendent sovereigns, the democratic-emancipatory view which assumes that Kings are by definition nothing but constitutional nonentities, and the media-view of members of a royal family as at one and the same time both superhuman and very human actors. A realistic analysis of the role of monarchs and monarchy focuses on at least five issues: whether countries remained monarchies in the wake of democratisation because of, or notwithstanding being monarchies; the relationship of monarchs to major social cleavages; the very real importance of Kings within the actions of the nominal Crown notwithstanding the importance of the principle of ministerial responsibility; the inevitably personal role of Kings in the making, the crisis and the fall of cabinets; and the unavoidable conflict between the personal rights and actions of monarchs and the limitations which constitutional monarchy implies.

Hans Daalder

Access_open Evolution historique de la royauté en Belgique

modèle ou imitation de l'évolution européenne

Authors Jean Stengers

    The importance of the problem lies not so much in the constitutional texts (these texts, since 1831, have practically not varied in Belgium), but in the constitutional practice. In the practical powers Leopold I acquired on the eve of his reign in 1831 (presiding over the Council of Ministers, being the effective head of the army, having a personal diplomatie activity), foreign examples are quite visible. They are less visible in the process which led to the loss of these powers. The Constitution itself gave to the King two effective powers, which he could exercisepersonally; he could dismiss his ministers, and dissolve Parliament. In both respects, for more than a century, the King actually took personal decisions. Lately he has no langer been able to do so and his former powers are now practically in the hands of the Prime Minister. The influence of the British model is here quite evident.

Jean Stengers

    In the Belgian constitutional order, there is no room for any direct political powers to be exercised by the King. Even on the occasion of a crisis- when the Cabinet tenders its resignation or when the Kingperforms His constitutional mission in the process towards the formation of a new government; His freedom of action is restricted by the objective context, defined mainly by the political parties. The King, however, retains the possibility of exercising his political influence. This influence may be all the more important in a country, such as Belgium, where the parliamentary system of proportional representation and the constitutional rule that both major linguistic groups be equally represented in the Cabinet -amongst other factors - cause a cabinet formation to be a complex and delicate process.

Karel Rimanque

Mark Wouters

Robert Vandeputte

    A sample survey of 3000 Belgians shows that a large majority in both Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels is in favour of the monarchy. This support is based mainly on an attachment to tradition and a belief that the monarchy is the only institution capable of holding the nation together. Comparison with earlier research indicates that the influence of the king, as perceived by the population, has increased during the last 15 years. Older generations and catholics tend to be more royalistic. Opposition against the monarchy is strongest amongst non-religious groups, younger generations, ecologists and - in Flanders - socialists and Flemish nationalists.

Bart Maddens