This article is written by Parth Verma, a student of the School of Law, Christ University, Bengaluru. This article seeks to explain the difference between a monarchy and a dictatorship. In addition, it aims to determine which system is better among the two and their global presence in current times.
It has been published by Rachit Garg.
In recent years, there has been significant growth in the adoption of the democratic form of government all over the world. Countries have now realized the need for people’s participation in governance to ensure their welfare. Yet, there are still several countries in the world in which democracy is still not followed. In such countries, either there is the rule of a king (monarchy) or a dictator (dictatorship) who has the sole authority and control over the entire country. Both these systems are considered to violate the rights of citizens, though in several countries there are certain exceptions to this notion. There is no legally elected government under these systems. The country is run entirely at the whims and fancies of the ruler who could be a king or a dictator. They have the power to make laws without any consultation, and the people would be forced to obey them.
As observed, these two systems almost seem to be the same in hindsight and have the same adverse impact on any nation. However, if observed minutely, there exist several differences between these systems of governance. This article seeks to look into all these differences and determine which one would be better in the context of any particular country. In this way, it will also answer the very important question of whether democracy should be considered in such countries.
A monarchy is a system of governance under which there is a king or a queen who has the absolute power of governance and decision-making in that particular country. The term monarchy is a word that has been derived from the Greek word ‘monarkhia’ which means ‘alone’. In the case of a monarchy, the succession of the kings takes place as a matter of heredity, i.e., only the members of the royal family can succeed in becoming the king or queen and ruling over the people. No other person from outside that family could become a monarch.
A dictatorship is a form of government in which there is a single leader or a group of leaders who assert their authority over the people of that country. The person who dictates the laws of that country is known as the dictator. The term ‘dictator’ has been derived from an office in Rome, which was only a temporary position kept for one person to have the absolute authority to make the rules in the event of an emergency. Unlike in a monarchy, however, the powers are not transferred to the dictator as a matter of their heredity. This power is usurped from the lawfully elected government by a military coup or through a collective revolt by a group of people who then assert their control.
In a monarchy, the monarch has the absolute power to make laws. It is still prevalent in a large number of countries. The features of a monarchy are as follows:
Under this system, the power to make the rules is solely in the hands of the leader or dictator. Dictatorship has the following features:
There is no process of the seizure of power in the case of the monarchy. The power is in the hands of the royal family staying in that given country, the members of which become the monarchs. It is based on a family tradition in which a member from the same family succeeds the previous monarch. The power to rule is generally accepted among the citizens. and as a result, they don’t seize the power. It is a tradition that has been prevailing for a long period of time.
In a dictatorial system, power is generally seized by the dictator or the group of leaders, either through a military coup or a collective revolt of the group of leaders. The powers are seized either from the existing government or from the monarch, generally through an attack on their army. Hence, power in a dictatorship is seized by a protest or a revolt by a person or a group of persons to seize the powers from the existing government.
The control in a monarchy system lies in the hands of the monarch, or the king, or the queen. They can frame the laws of the country and can also control the activities of their citizens. However, the magnitude of control declines in the case of a constitutional monarchy. Under this system, the Constitution ideally has complete control over the king as well as the people of that country. The powers of the monarch are limited in a Constitutional monarchy and they are bound by the Constitutional provisions. However, in a non-sovereign monarchy, the monarch can be subjected to the authority of some person having higher authority. An example of such a system in the monarchy could be the puppet leaders of the Princely States of India during British Rule. They were allowed to control the state but had to work under the authority of British Colonial rule.
In the case of a dictatorship, full control over the citizens is in the hands of the dictator. A dictator can make and enforce the laws as per their whims and fancies. The government going to rule the nation would be presided over by the dictator in case there were a group of leaders. The military control would also completely lie in the hands of the dictator. In a dictatorship, unlike a monarchy, the dictator is submissive or accountable to any other individual or a group of leaders. They have absolute authority over the nation in all possible circumstances. There is absolutely no division of powers among the different individuals. Even those who have the authority are directly answerable to the dictator, i.e., they would always be subordinate to the dictator.
Since in the system of monarchy, the king has complete control over the citizens, they might feel that their rights are being violated. This is generally what happens in any monarchy. Freedom of the citizens is inhibited and the system also leads to a class divide, i.e., the population gets divided into the privileged, which includes the royal family and their subjects, and the commoners, who suffer due to the monarchy. The people in most countries following this system aren’t satisfied as they don’t enjoy any freedom and their rights are outrightly violated under this system.
However, this is not always the case. In certain countries, the monarch is considerate of the needs and rights of the people. As a result, they lead the people towards the development of the country at large and are not driven by the motive of their self benefits. The most recent example is the system of monarchy in Bhutan. The people are satisfied with the monarch and during the regime of the current king, the crime rate has been on a decline, the country has achieved carbon neutrality, and the employment rate is also on a continuous rise, thereby making it the happiest country in the world. Hence, the people might not be satisfied with a system of monarchy, but there are certain exceptions to it. Even for those who are unhappy, the situation is not as bad as for those who are living under the regime of a dictator.
The dictator, as explained in the previous section, aims to promote racialism among the people, which creates a feeling of the superiority of one community over the other. As a result, those who don’t belong to the community of the dictator face a lot of discrimination. Many a time, they even become the victims of genocide because they are considered impure by the dictator. Yet, for the rest of the citizens, they would become the beneficiaries of all the privileges that would be provided to them by the dictator.
The most appropriate example of dictatorship is that of Adolf Hitler. He was the dictator of present-day Germany and Austria and considered the German Aryans to be the most superior community. As a result, he highly discriminated against the Jews living in Germany and also carried out mass killings or genocide of the Jews to make the community extinct. Many Jews lost their lives and many were forced to migrate to other nations in order to save themselves. Even for the people of the same community, certain injustices might be imposed upon them which could go against their interests. Most of the people, if not all, are not satisfied at all under this system, and unlike monarchy, there are no exceptions to it in the world till now. Hence, in this system, people might need to face greater atrocities in comparison to the system of monarchy.
In a monarchy, the constitution may or may not be relevant. When the monarch has absolute authority over the citizens, he/she might not create an entire Constitution but only make some general rules to be conveyed to the people. Yet, they can still create a Constitution if they wish to do so. However, even the constitution would contain the same rules as had been envisaged by the monarch.
In a Constitutional monarchy, however, the constitution holds a lot of relevance. The powers and the role of the monarch are defined in the Constitution, which he/she can’t exceed in any given situation. Further, the rights of the people are appropriately guaranteed with the help of the Constitution. Hence, the Constitution holds a lot of relevance in a Constitutional monarchy but in an absolute monarchy, the rule of the king is given primary importance.
In a dictatorial system, the constitution is made by the leader himself to fulfil his/her aspirations. A dictator, in other words, is not bound by the Constitution and can rather make the Constitution by themselves. They can only focus on promoting their propaganda and ideologies through the Constitution if they make one. Another reason for making a constitution by a dictator is to emphasize his supreme leadership and the concentration of power of all organs of the government in his/her hands. As a result, the Constitution doesn’t hold much relevance in a dictatorial regime.
|Meaning||It refers to a system of government in which the monarch has the absolute power to make laws.||It refers to a system in which a leader or a group of leaders rules over the citizens of a country and imposes their rules and will upon them.|
|Method to seize power||The power to rule over the citizens is given to the monarch through a hierarchical system prevailing in the royal family.||The power in the case of dictatorship is seized either by pulling a military coup or a collective revolt.|
|Types||Monarchy can be divided into two types namely constitutional monarchy and absolute monarchy.||A dictatorship can be divided into various types such as military dictatorship, personalist dictatorship, hybrid dictatorship, and single-party dictatorship.|
|Satisfaction among people||The citizens may or may not be satisfied with a monarchy, depending primarily upon the type of monarchy and the pursued policies by the monarch.||Only the majority community or the community of which the dictator is a part would be satisfied since the policies framed would be in their favour. The rest of the population would be subjected to discrimination.|
|Control||The control of the monarch might be absolute or might not be in a constitutional monarchy wherein they are bound by the powers conferred on them in the Constitution.||The dictator is going to have absolute power to control the citizens and make the laws in that country.|
|Examples||United Kingdom, Bhutan, Japan||North Korea, Vietnam, and Laos|
Both dictatorship and monarchy are forms of government that are generally seen against the democratic system of governance. In the past, it was used by the royal families just to fulfil their personal needs. Yet some monarchs certainly thought of the welfare of the people and peace due to which the monarchy has still survived in countries such as Bhutan. In a monarchy system in the country of Bhutan, the King still follows the democratic principles of liberty, equality, fraternity, and the freedom of the people, due to which the system has still been accepted by the citizens of the country. On the other hand, in Saudi Arabia, the people are discontent with the monarchy being followed there. They are deprived of their basic human rights.
From this comparison of different monarchies, it could be determined that it is not always necessary to have a Republican system to provide the people with basic human rights or ensure their social participation. It can be ensured under any system of governance that the protection and promotion of democratic principles and values of liberty, equality, and fraternity are the most appropriate means to achieve the same. However, the same can’t be ensured in a dictatorship since the dictator is not bound by any other individual. It is generally not possible for a dictator to respect the equality of all communities because they have propaganda to promote racialism or give preference to a particular race over another. Equality and peace can’t be ensured in a dictatorship and can certainly not be ensured as the dictator himself assumes power with the use of force.
Hence, in all possible circumstances, a monarchy would be better from the point of view of the citizens as compared to a dictatorship. This is so because, in a monarchy, there is still some possibility of the protection of people’s rights as the monarch himself might be bound by the Constitution in the case of a Constitutional monarchy. However, this is certainly not possible in a dictatorship, as preference would always be given to one community over the other by the dictator. To address all the problems that exist in both these systems, democracy could be an effective solution because it ensures the proper participation of the people in the process of decision-making. Hence, there is no scope for the violation of their rights because then the responsibility would be on the state to uphold the rights of the citizens. Therefore, a democracy or a republican system of governance is better than both these systems, but if dictatorship and monarchy are compared, the monarchy would always be preferred because it is slightly better in terms of protection of citizens’ rights.
Some of the countries following monarchy in the current times are Bhutan, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Jordan.
A constitutional monarchy refers to the system in which the monarch has the authority as has been defined in the Constitution of that country. Hence they don’t have uncontrollable authority.
Dictatorship is still prevalent in the countries of North Korea, Vietnam, and Myanmar which is the most recent case of Military dictatorship.
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