A monarchy is a form of government where the individual or group of people in power are determined through bloodlines. Specific rules are in place that dictate who can be named the ruler of the state in a monarchy. Most are ruled by kings or queens, but some allow for a group of nobles to be the head of the government as well.
The advantage of a monarchy is that there is predictability in the government. Secession goes through the family who leads the government, so there are no situations where people must vote “for the lesser of two evils.” There are specific rules and laws in place that would determine who would be the ruler and when they would ascend to that leadership position.
The disadvantage of a monarchy is that the people being ruled rarely have a say in who gets to be their leader. Because everything is pre-determined, a society could become stuck with an abusive individual in power for multiple decades and have little recourse to save themselves.
Here are the additional advantages and disadvantages of a monarchy to consider when compared to other forms of government.
What Are the Advantages of a Monarchy?
1. Balance is still provided in the government.
The modern monarchy is typically a figurehead in the government instead of being the all-ruling overseer of everything. The government structure of the United Kingdom is a good example of this. The primary duties of ruling are given to a Prime Minister, who then reports directly to the king or queen. Smaller monarchies may still offer direct rule, but for most governments, they are structured to give the people balance.
2. It can be cheaper to run a monarchy.
Rulers in a monarchy are often treated to exorbitant wealth. From the lavish estates where they live to the massive amount of wealth they can provide themselves, the ruling class separates itself from the other classes in terms of wealth. From the government’s perspective, however, the wealth of a monarchy can be more cost-effective than the recurring charges of frequent elections. CBS News reports that the total cost of the 2016 election cycle in the United States was $6.8 billion. In comparison, Bloomberg estimates the Queen’s net worth at $425 million.
3. The transfer of power tends to be smoother.
The transfer of power between Barack Obama and Donald Trump created protests, counter-protests, and moments of societal violence. During the transfer of power in a monarchy, there are fewer complications. Even when the ruler decides to abdicate their position, a successor has already been named and can immediately assume their duties. This creates fewer gaps in the power structure of the government and its predictability reduces societal uncertainty.
4. A monarchy typically maintains a stronger defense.
Throughout world history, monarchies usually have the strongest armies and defensive protocols. This is required because the power of the throne rests in the lands and people being governed. Without lands and productive individuals, there is no government to form. The United States is one of the few exceptions to this rule.
5. It can be a more efficient form of government.
Because decisions run through the ruling class, and often through a specific individual, a monarchy is more efficient than most other forms of government. Instead of a massive bureaucracy and lots of red tape to navigate to get laws passed or benefits authorized, one decision can be made that decrees everything that needs to be done for the society.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Monarchy?
1. It is difficult to change the direction of a country under a monarchy.
Because only one family or one “noble” group is allowed into the ruling class under the structure of a monarchy, it becomes difficult for the people to direct a change in what happens in their society. Unless the ruler or group of rulers agrees, there is no way for the average person to create change. The public has no voice, which means a selfish or power-hungry monarch could create instant and long-term oppression.
2. Monarchies are supported by local tax policies.
Taxpayers are forced to furnish the costs that a monarch incurs over the course of governing in virtually every instance of this government structure. It is no different than paying a President or Prime Minister a salary, but other costs are government-funded as well. In the US, taxpayers would pay for the upkeep of the White House, but not the upkeep of a President’s personal home. In a monarchy, both would be expected.
3. Tyranny is easier to form in the structure of a monarchy.
Although tyranny can form under any structure of government, it is easier to form within the structure of a monarchy. Many governments attempt to balance the powers of a monarchy between multiple groups, but a ruler that is determined to be cruel and unreasonable can dictate that all powers funnel through them. Sometimes referred to as a dictatorship, autocracy, or despotism, great harm can occur when it is present. Mao Zedong, in power for 34 years in China, is responsible for up to 75 million deaths.
4. Secession within a monarchy does not guarantee competency.
Just because the lines of succession are outlined before they are needed does not guarantee the next ruler will be competent. Some rulers may not even wish to take over their assigned responsibilities. Being born into a specific position is very different than being specifically educated and pursuing a career that can lead an individual into a leadership position.
5. Independent justice is not present unless it is specifically built into the government.
The wisdom of Solomon is often used as a metaphor for finding justice in difficult circumstances. Solomon was a monarch who, in Biblical times, attempted to be fair and just with everyone. He was an exception to the rule. Independent justice is difficult to find in a monarchy because the ruling class has the final judicial say in matters unless a separate structure has been built into the government. If the ruler doesn’t like you, then you might find yourself in prison, even if you did nothing wrong.
6. Class discrimination is more prominent.
Every society has socioeconomic classes. In a monarchy, they tend to be more pronounced. Wealth is directly associated with power. If one has no wealth, then there is no chance to provide influence. In other government structures, those who have no wealth would still have the opportunity to vote and have their vote be equal to any other vote.
The advantages and disadvantages of a monarchy show that it can be a simplistic and beneficial form of government. They also show that someone with nefarious intent can cause an immense amount of harm on their nation and the world. It is simply one form of government that can meet the needs of the people amongst many.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.