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Its not so much the unwritten rules of conduct as the realities of power ... written or unwritten, under constitutional arrangements that retain a monarch as a head of state when power is located in a parliament, in a showdown, the power would normally prevail over the figurehead.

When social institutions are breaking down, as in the Roman Republic under the weight of Imperial possessions, or in Japan as the extensive development of the urban economies under the Shogunate undermined the foundations of feudal Japan ... well, then people will push for revisions of the rules.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 6th, 2009 at 10:10:49 PM EST
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But if you're invoking the realities of power, then you must also accept popularity as a significant factor. In a showdown between the parliament and the monarch, if public opinion lies with the monarch and the monarch is also willing to use old dormant powers, would parliament still win?

For definiteness, imagine Charles had the charisma of Diana and intelligence to match, and that he was willing to lead on environmental causes with the full powers of the monarchy. Such a king could carve out a real (ie non-ceremonial) role in politics in a relatively short time, and a new concensus on the acceptability of (perhaps limited at first) political interference by the monarchy. It would require no new laws to make that change, just shift the unwritten rules of conduct. Would you agree, or does this sound too crazy?

$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

by martingale on Sat Jun 6th, 2009 at 11:28:50 PM EST
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If they were not so inbred, perhaps it would occur :)

They have a position of visibility, and if a monarch were to seize some power they could argue that it was not a formal change. Just like Bush argued that enemy combatants were not covered by conventions. But since all their lines of command would go through positions appointed by parliament or an executive appointed by parliament, chances are that they would quickly face a reaction.

Last time a swedish monarch tried anything was during world war one. Parliament quickly obstructed and teh king was forced to back down.

One might note that the risk/benefit analysis for a king to interfere is not very positive. On the risk side is abolishment of monarchy - thus of cushy very well-paid position - and going down in history as the one that failed. On the benefit side is getting real power, but unless the king actually has an agenda that might turn out to just be a lot of work.

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by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jun 7th, 2009 at 03:19:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When one parliament is unpopular, you get to vote for a new one. People will stop comparing the monarch to the previous unpopular parliament, and start comparing the monarch to the popular parliament that they will elect.

And, after all, its not like they have to reason this out from scratch ... this is social evolution at work. Those monarchies that survive are those that have learned the lesson that they get to survive as long as they stay above the fray.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jun 7th, 2009 at 10:39:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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