202. The paradox at the heart of Republicanism in a parlamentarian democracy

It is not unusual in parliamentarian democracies such as Spain or UK to hear those who profess themselves republican argue that a republic is a more democratic, therefore superior system than a monarchy. They claim the monarchy is undemocratic, as the monarch is not elected, but rather inherits his or her position and this lack of election renders their role, and their existence, undemocratic. However, this is paradoxical in that a system, and the laws that sustain it, derive their legitimacy, become actual laws, by their acceptance by the general will of society. It misses the point of democracy. In a territory in which the general will is to live in a parliamentarian monarchy, or even to not stop living in a parliamentarian monarchy, this system is eminently democratic, as it enacts the will of society as to what system to live in. A minority revolution, in such circumstance, to install a republic, or remove the monarch, is in fact undemocratic, in that it opposes that general will 

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Comments

Unknown said…
What if the general will of society supports a dictatorship? One could say Egypt, Libya, Iraq, etc. being under dictatorship regimes were stable, safe, self sufficient countries and did better than under purported democracies or attempts to achieve them, which brought about destabilisation and unrest, more poverty and destruction of the institutional structures, however flawed they were.
SantiDominguezV said…
Interesting comment and interesting question(s) - I think there are 2 questions rather than one.
Firstly, a dictatorship cannot be a democracy, even if the general will of society supports it. Democracy imply a whole other series of provisos, such as separation of powers, equality of all individuals in front of the law, individual freedoms, the protection of minorities, the removal of the leader once the general will no longer wants them, the focus of legislative and executive power on enacting the general will of society, etc. The lack of any of these mechanisms (and many others) would render the system not democratic. That is also the reason why I refer specifically to parlamentarian democracies, where the monarch does not embody any of the powers or has influecne over them (legislative, executive and judiciary) and not for example to absolute monarchy, however benign, where separation of powers does in effect by definition not exist.

As for failed democracies in some of those post-dictatorship countries, I think we have to look carefully, before drawing conclusions, at outside influences. Some of these democracies are not being allowed to succeed by powerful external geopolitical interests. This does not make democracy less successful per se, just initially not able, maybe, to withstand full on attacks which were not targeted at the previous regime, more easily manipulable in other ways (cash and favours for the dictator and their family). Spain succeeded in its post-Franco transition because it was left alone. But Spain had no oil or extensive natural resources, and times were different. The Iraq's and Libia's of today are not so lucky

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