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Monarchism is the state-theoretical position in favor of the monarchy , that is, for example, the hereditary or elected king or empire , whereby the terms for monarchs vary depending on language and tradition. In addition to the Empire of Japan, there are kingdoms, a Grand Duchy ( Luxembourg ), principalities , sultanates and emirates as sovereign states with a monarchical head. On a subnational, but constitutionally significant level, the monarchical states of Malaysia should be mentioned, whose rulers bear the title of sultan or, in the case of Perlis , a rajas , since they elect the king for a five-year term, as well as the rulers of the states of the United States Arab Emirates, which also determine the country's head of state from among their number.

A demarcation from dictatorship or democracy is not possible, since the constitutional , constitutional monarchy allows any integration into democratic state systems, on the other hand there are absolute forms of rule that can also be found in non-monarchical states. The spectrum ranges from monarchies in which there is no representation of the people , through states where the parliament preferably has administrative and advisory functions, to monarchies in which the regent only performs representative tasks and political decisions elsewhere, as a rule today be taken by parliament or the government with parliamentary responsibility.

Historical positions

The legitimations of power inherited within monarchies have their own history in the various ruling houses and the cultures in which they rule. In contrast, monarchism as a state-theoretical option requires a situation in which an alternative to monarchy can be discussed. The essential monarchist drafts therefore originate from historical situations in which the elimination or modification of the monarchy or the restoration of a monarchical form of government were up for debate. That is why both opponents and supporters of monarchy as a form of rule were involved in the development of monarchism as a conception of state theory.

The oldest political philosophical debate goes back to Plato with the work Der Staat (Gr. Politeia ), in which monarchical, aristocratic and democratic forms of government - the latter based on the Athenian democracy - are compared with one another.

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes: Plea for absolute monarchy

Although Thomas Hobbes is now classified as the central philosopher of absolutism , nothing should hide the fact that his central works were branded as atheistic , conflicting with Christianity and could not serve as a legitimation for absolutism, at least in this respect. If the monarchies of the Middle Ages and the early modern period appeared with a claim to divine right , to justify their rule by God, Hobbes fundamentally negated this basis of legitimation.

His Leviathan (1651) appeared shortly after Charles I was beheaded while the author was living in exile in France. In view of the political catastrophe, Hobbes postulated that power as an absolute and unlimited exercise of violence is indispensable in order to prevent the " war of all against all ". The absolute ruler acted, committed to his own nature and thus to pure self-preservation, not considering the common good. Nevertheless, civilization arises from such exercise of power, since it resets the violence-seeking legal claims of all individuals. Brutality was thus the basic assumption at all levels, with the consequence that human civilization grew out of it: a peaceful state in which no one who loved his life disrupted the public peace - a public peace that followed economic growth and power outside allowed.

Hobbes appeared as a philosopher, he justified his statements epistemologically with the philosophy of a completely new materialism . Religion and morality were subordinated to instruments for the perfect exercise of power. In the new state philosophy they remained subordinate to the absolute ruler.

The ruler could theoretically be a self-proclaimed dictator, tyranny. However, the Leviathan in the structure of the arguments was effectively a plea for monarchy as the only form of rule that withdrew the change of power from discussion and thus secured it. There was no power vacuum in it, as there had to be when governments changed office when new elections were called - and thus no risk of a revolution breaking out precisely in this power vacuum.

The theory was tailored to Great Britain at the same time as the Church's subordination to the Crown. When the Leviathan appeared, the religiously founded rule of parliament ruled Great Britain as a specter, as the Leviathan imagined.

In fact, Hobbes became a taboo for the rulers of Europe, since the monarchy was introduced here as a tyranny that was no longer subject to any religion or morality. On the other hand, the radical nature of this thought made the Leviathan the most influential work in the legal philosophical discussion. Here, for the first time, power and the state were legitimized without recourse to transcendence - in a philosophically radical provocation that had to result in a search for better legitimations.

John Locke

John Locke: The monarchy subordinate to the common good

John Locke is now associated with parliamentarism and democracy rather than monarchism. His Two Treatises on Government (1689) are important in the context of the Glorious Revolution . This proved historically that Hobbes was wrong with his philosophical postulates. It was entirely possible for a nation to overturn reign without the battle of all against all. Even a revolution, the extreme case of a change of power, could happen for the good of the common good.

Secular power was legitimized against this historical background. It was possible to subordinate them to the interests of the common good. Locke advocated the protection of private property and institutions that, if necessary, could depose a ruler who was harmful to the common good. He advocated a parliament that, as elected, had to commit itself to the interests of the common good - positions that led to the formulation of the constitutional monarchy and which at the same time made the most important requirements for the establishment of a democracy without monarchs. The United States of America established one later in the century.

Friedrich II of Prussia: Enlightened absolutism

Appeals for monarchy from monarchs are rare. What Frederick II of Prussia and his Anti-Machiavell (1740) presented after discussions with Voltaire aroused the enthusiasm of Europe's intellectuals. The German edition of 1745 was published linked to a translation by Prince Machiavelli . Voltaire let it be known that the author was a high-ranking statesman, secretly word got around of Frederick II's identity as the author with whom Voltaire corresponded.

With the first few pages, Friedrich shows himself disgusted by Machiavelli's power politics, which subordinates the welfare of the country to the pure maintenance of power in an emergency. Machiavelli was still a man of the barbaric bygone age. As a rule, the enlightened monarch does not rule over an acquired land, he curbs his ambitions, he ponders the development of the country, he puts his work in the service of the land entrusted to him. Civilization is aimed at. The regent who commits political murder is an absurdity in it, an absurdity is even Louis XIV , who attacked Europe for reasons of prestige. Fénelons Telemach (1699/1700) sets (Chapter VII) the tone of humanity to which the regent submits. For the free republics that are not subject to any monarch , Frederick (Chapter IX) takes up the word secretly: Monarchies end with their rulers, empires go under. But republics, according to the young monarch, gain stability of their own precisely because they do not give the highest means of power to anyone who could abuse them. The consistent criticism of Machiavelli's plea for the relentless use of power leads with the 15th chapter in pleadings for those reigns that existed as beneficial before history. The virtuous, self-ruling ruler must strive for a better exercise of power, especially in view of the horror that the exercise of power, as outlined by Machiavelli, triggers. Love of his people, the regent must strive for trust.

In the end, the option of an enlightened absolutism committed to the values ​​of the Enlightenment remained a desideratum . Friedrich II threw most of the previously expressed maxims overboard in the first conflict with Austria. The Seven Years War should involve all of Europe in the process. Civil liberties, the religious tolerance granted to the Prussians, were discredited in practice as a pure calculation of the economic profit that the settlements had to offer. Among intellectuals, Friedrich confirmed Machiavelli, the author who had demanded precisely this, with the willingness to put his own maxims aside. Among defenders of the monarchy, it remained to be considered whether Frederick had not acted in favor of Prussia, which under his reign came under Europe's great powers.

Monarchism in the present


Prussia's rise in the process of national unification was primarily at the expense of the other territorial rulers of the German-speaking area. In this process, monarchism took on a strongly local patriotic form in the Reich - and a nationalist one in terms of the legitimacy of Prussia and the House of Hohenzollern, which with the unification of the empire gained the central position among the regency. The majority of the political parties and currents of the 19th century supported the monarchy, where it promoted the unification of the empire. There were individual monarchist currents in the workers' movement , Ferdinand Lassalle dared to approach Otto von Bismarck as the decisive politician of national unification until he broke with his own movement . It was not until Prussia's wars of unification that the socialist movement took a clearly anti-monarchist course. From the very beginning , the communists had spoken out more clearly against monarchism. With the end of the First World War , which forced the German Kaiser to abdicate and to emigrate to the Netherlands in 1918, monarchism lost ground in Germany, but in the same process it gained a perspective as a nationalist alternative to that which from now on was to be noted alongside local patriotism Weimar Republic.

During the 1920s, supporters of the House of Hohenzollern pleaded for the reintroduction of the monarchy, but had no chance under the developments that the Weimar Republic took into the dictatorship of the Third Reich. The Third Reich forbade monarchist movements, especially since the monarchy as a form of government could hope for support from the old officer elite recruited from the nobility.

With the end of the Third Reich, monarchism largely lost all meaning in the German-speaking area. Today it is divided into the camp of the Legitimists (also Hohenzollerntreue ), who demand a continuation of the last ruling imperial line , in supporters of the ore house of Austria ( Habsburg ) and various smaller associations that support some of the ruling houses that have come from power. In the confusing field, Habsburg supporters sometimes also plead for the greater German alternative, some supporters of the Wittelsbachers for a separation of Bavaria from the Federal Republic of Germany and an independent Bavarian monarchy.

The situation is also complicated by the special problem of imperial dignity, which in the Holy Roman Empire was made through the election of the elector with voting rights . In principle, there is the option of granting the Empire to the House of Hohenzollern as the last holder of the dignity - the King of Prussia would be the German Emperor. The alternative would be the position of a German king , provided by the House of Hohenzollern, and the award of the imperial title in the former imperial association, or more modern, on the larger European stage. Here the House of Habsburg, Austria , is then traded as a possible contender among monarchists.

Differences in the view of what rights and duties the monarch should have permeate the discussion in monarchist circles without playing a significant role in the political disputes in the Federal Republic of Germany . The spectrum of the arguments ranges from a position that would replace the Federal President as a representative of the state (René Häusler) to radical interventions in the democratic structure. A right of veto in the event of constitutional changes, the right to dissolve parliament and initiate new elections are discussed as possible powers: the emperor as guardian of the people, the constitution, democracy, the rule of law and the liberal order (according to Norbert Ficek's offer for discussion).

Austria and the former Habsburg territories

In today's Republic of Austria there are several organizations that strive to restore the monarchy under the Habsburg dynasty . In the more recent past, the focus has been on the idea of nominating Otto von Habsburg as a candidate for the election of the Federal President, which, however, was de jure not feasible at the time. For the last time, the Homeless in Politics (ODP), a monarchist party, ran for a National Council election in 2017 .

In the past, Austrian monarchism was very much based on the policy of the Pan-European Union ; today, based on the concept of the Danube Federation or the ideas of Aurel Popovici , it strives for a federal multi-ethnic state in which the Habsburg monarchy has a role to play.

Since it was founded in 2004, the black and yellow alliance positioned in the political center (black and yellow are the flag colors of the Habsburgs) has been working for the introduction of a constitutional monarchy at the constitutional level.

In the Czech Republic , the monarchist party Koruna česká (in German "Czech Crown") took part in parliamentary elections for the first time in 2006. There has also been an agreement since 2007 in which the Black and Yellow Alliance (SGA) and Koruna Česká express their cooperation. This convention was presented to the public at a major press conference on November 12, 2007. Politically, both groups are not yet very firmly established; While Koruna Česká has already competed in the 2005 European elections and the 2006 Czech parliamentary elections, the Black-Yellow Alliance has so far only been active as a politically active association. Under the name “The Monarchists - Black and Yellow Alliance”, the group tried to participate in the Austrian National Council elections in 2008 and 2013, but on both occasions did not get enough declarations of support to run nationwide.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is one of the oldest democracies in the world, but it is also a monarchy with a complex political tradition. Well before the French Revolution of 1789, the monarchy was officially abolished in England in 1649 after a civil war with the beheading of King Charles I. Some years of the English Republic under Cromwell followed; 1660 it came through a coup of General Monck for restoration of the monarchy. The Glorious Revolution was still taking place in 1688 . This time the regent was not beheaded, but forced to leave the country, Wilhelm III. and his wife Maria , born in the Stuart line, were brought to London from the Netherlands. With these events, which meant a clear strengthening of parliament against the crown, the United Kingdom developed the first constitutional monarchy and the first efficient parliamentary democracy on the European stage.

Since Henry VIII the King of the United Kingdom has been head of the Anglican Church , a state church that emerged from the Reformation . Since Elizabeth I , the nation has had a growing relationship with female dignitaries. With colonialism she expanded the monarchy over the empire , the entirety of the colonial possessions. Almost all the peoples of the Empire were granted independence in the course of the last 150 years and formed the Commonwealth of Nations , in whose member states the monarch of the United Kingdom initially remained head of state. Today he still has this function in Canada , Australia and New Zealand, as well as on some smaller islands .

The monarch's tasks have shifted to representation, he opens parliamentary periods and is informed by the “first minister”, the prime minister . Respect and cooperation shape the relationship between the institutions that have shown themselves to be adaptable and which have solved crisis situations such as the mental confusion of a monarch constructively.

In the United Kingdom, monarchism has gained a strong folkloristic and identification element in the political turmoil and in the process of political disempowerment. The monarchy is ultimately a winner on English soil; it survived dismissals and revolutions, power cuts and the collapse of the empire without entering into an open battle against other state institutions or playing the role of the loser. As a historical relic that is still preserved, nowhere is the monarchy as traditional as in the United Kingdom. The members of the royal family became global media stars with scandalous private stories in the second half of the 20th century, and this too contributed to the consolidation of the monarchy rather than leading to a real crisis. London's flair among tourists is largely fed by the glamor of the royal family. Royal family funerals and weddings are global media events that are celebrated with seriousness and humor. Monarchism in the United Kingdom consists of a wide range of traditionalist reactionary currents (such as the Orange , the supporters of William III, who plead for Northern Ireland to remain with the United Kingdom) to an attitude that is self-ironically expressed by the royal family Cult status , celebrating it as the oldest British soap opera .


In East Asian monarchism, as it found its form in China and Japan , there is no divine right of Christian style. In a society that is closer to polytheism, the monarch effectively acts as a divine person (for the Japanese concept of God, see kami ). Japan's Tennō dynasty traditionally traces its claim to power back to the descent and installation by the goddess Amaterasu - a position in which the incumbent Tennō himself exercises the office of supreme priest of Shinto .

Historically, the power of the imperial family of high descent was weak until the 19th century (with a few exceptions (e.g. Tenji ) between around 660 (the end of control of the Soga ) and 850 (the beginning of the 19th century ) the control of Fujiwara )). In the wars that resulted in a centralized government in the 16th century, the Shogun asserted himself as the de facto ruler by exercising dictatorial military power. The Tennō exercised ceremonial functions towards him.

A Japanese monarchism debate that followed the European one did not begin until the forced opening to the west in the mid- 19th century , with the followers of the shogunate and followers of Tennoism facing each other. A republican movement played into the controversy that culminated in the revolution and the subsequent Meiji Restoration , which restored divine kingdom. If more liberal forces had pleaded for a constitution based on the British model, as far as the position of the Tenno was concerned, an orientation towards Prussia's constitution in the Meiji constitution won out . British influence, on the other hand, was reflected in the division of parliamentary power into a mansion and a lower house .

The close amalgamation of the military power of a European nation-state with the idea of ​​divine descent of the regent led to a crisis of the ideological foundations of Japanese monarchism with the defeat of Japan in World War II : it was effectively equivalent to humiliation of the Tennō and his divine dignity. Hirohito , the Shōwa-tennō, laid down his claim to divinity in the face of defeat (cf. Arahitogami ). However, the effectiveness of this act is extremely controversial among Japanese monarchists.


Since ancient times, Chinese emperors have traced their rule back to the deified jade emperor of the mythical Xia dynasty . The concept of the Mandate of Heaven, which was also used in Japan, legitimized the rule of the emperor in terms of moral and historical philosophy according to the Confucianist interpretation.

Under the influence of the Japanese Meiji Restoration and with the expansion of foreign contacts, a secular republic movement arose in China at the beginning of the 20th century under Sun Yat-sen , the Kuomintang , which in the course of Pu Yi , the last emperor of the Qing dynasty , in 1912 forced to abdicate.

Japan's ambitions for power politics brought Pu Yi's restoration: in 1932 he was appointed president of Manchukuo , the satellite state that Japan established with military force on Chinese soil, and in 1934 Pu Yi was restored to emperor - a step with which the artificial state was extended to all of China should. The ambitions failed in 1945. In 1949, under Mao Zedong, the Communist People's Republic of China was proclaimed. As an underground opposition movement, Chinese monarchism has since found supporters, especially in Manchuria .

See also


Individual evidence

  1. Who wants what in the future? In: Club Vienna. July 4, 2013, accessed January 12, 2019 .
  2. Left Party competes in two federal states, homeless party in Vienna. In: The press. August 17, 2017, accessed January 12, 2019 .