Constitutional Monarchs in Parliamentary Democracies

Available also in Arabic



  • A constitutional monarch in a parliamentary democracy is a hereditary symbolic head of state (who may be an emperor, king or queen, prince or duke) who mainly performs a representative and civic role but does not exercise executive or policymaking power.


  • A constitutional monarch enables traditional legitimacy and symbolism to be combined with parliamentary democracy. Depending on the circumstances, the monarchy may provide continuity and stability, may reassure key elites and gain their support for democratic transition and may reinforce democratic legitimacy with traditional sources of authority.

Why not?

  • Some argue that a constitutional monarch with little effective power is an unnecessary addition to the political system or that the monarch represents undemocratic values.
  • A monarch who can interfere in government is an inherently undemocratic institution.


  • Constitutional monarchies are found in many European parliamentary democracies, e.g. Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.
  • There are also constitutional monarchies in Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, as well as (quasi-) constitutional monarchies in some Arab states.