Monday, April 28, 2008

Monarchy or republic?

istory of Europe has known good and bad monarchies, just like good and bad republics. Neither monarchies nor republics are by nature democratic or authoritarian. European countries have had quite a range of various experiences with these two forms of government, both existing since the Classical Age.

Sweden and Denmark have always been monarchies, Switzerland has been a republic throughout its entire existence.

Great Britain is considered to be the monarchy with the longest continuity, but even she was a republic from 1649 to 1660.

France after the Revolution of 1789 was first a republic, then an empire, than a kingdom, again republic, again empire, eventually ending up like republic in 1870.

The Netherlands was a republic from its independence in 1579 all the way to 1815 when it became a monarchy.

Belgium in 1830, Luxembourg in 1867 and Norway in 1905 gained their independence as monarchies, while Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ireland, Poland and Czechoslovakia after the WWI – as republics.

Germany, Austria and Hungary ceased to be monarchies after the WWI, and Italy, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania after the WWII.

Portugal became a republic in 1910, and Greece in 1974.

Spain abolished monarchy in 1931, and re-established it in 1975.

All European countries, be they monarchies or republics, share the same problems of today’s world. Neither of the two forms of government has universal or objective value, but instead, can only be estimated in comparison to how much each of them, in specific historical and geo-strategic circumstances, contributes to a particular state to become essentially better.

What, at present, makes monarchies different from republics, and what defines them as different forms of government is the office of the Head of State. A king is not elected and serves his office without term limit, while a president of republic is elected by a particular portion of the electorate, with a limited term of office.

Generally, anyone can become a president of republic, while a king is born to his office. Every king grows up with the awareness of his future position and as a person is, in the truest sense of the word, a “professional” statesman. In today's constitutional parliamentary monarchies kings are not sacrosanct, for there are clearly regulated mechanisms of removing a monarch, which did not exist only in the times of absolutism.

President of republic, regardless of personal abilities, always owes the position to certain “centers of power”, above all to political parties, and can never be fully independent of them. The present political moment has clearly shown how deep divisions in the body of voters can be caused by the elections for the Head of State, even in the most democratic, most developed countries.

King does not owe the position to anybody – and thus can truly represent all citizens, regardless of their political orientation. In the era of profound economic and social transformations, it is of utmost importance that the Head of State, who today, among other, represents a “judge” in the matters of upholding the constitution, is independent of any political party and impartial to all of them.

Serbia in the form of a republic, before 2000, had experienced nothing but dictatorship, lasting as a party-state in which absolute power was concentrated in the hands of the “president of republic”, i.e. the chief of the ruling party.

Serbia had had bad experiences with its Princes and Kings as well, going through periods of absolutism and serious conflicts regarding constitutional limitations of the monarch’s power, which is commonplace in the development of all European countries.

From its independence to the end of the 20th century, Serbia had reached the highest level of constitutional parliamentary democracy and economic and political liberalism during the reign of HM King Peter I.

The present political moment reminds, regrettably to a significant extent, of the circumstances at the beginning of the 20th century, before HM King Peter I had accessed the throne. Internal conflicts of different political interest and ideologies, the twisting of laws and constitution, lack of clear attitude and strategic allies in foreign policy are destabilizing Serbia and standing in its way to sustainable development.

Just like one hundred years ago, Serbia today needs a fundamental, and at the same time a symbolic break with its oppressive past. We need a new beginning, and a new, for Serbia in fact, the only natural form of government.

These are the reasons why the citizens of Serbia gathered in The Monarchist Initiative say:



Since the end of WWII, citizens of Serbia have lived in a country with a form of government that was named a republic, by those who had taken control over it. For almost sixty years, such form of government did not provide its citizens with what the supporters of republic claim to be its biggest advantage over monarchy – elective head of state. Neither did the Republic of Serbia provide its citizens with any other democratic achievement of European republics, accomplished through confrontation with the monarchistic form of government at the end of the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century.

Today, there is no antagonism between European monarchies and republics. All European countries, Serbia included, have accepted the values of open society, which is the basis of our continent’s integration. But just as the communist republic had declared itself to be a framework for democracy and social justice while in reality it was nothing but a mask for a totalitarian regime based on the model of oriental despocy, so have the rulers of the post-communist republic of Serbia been promising its citizens European integrations, while in fact they keep trying to prolong the existence of the party-state, for as long as they can.

The developed European republics established mechanisms that represent a solid barrier to possible abuse of power by political parties long time ago – independent judicial system, free media, civil control of army and police. In the Eastern European republics such barrier is represented by general social consensus on the fact that the party-states in those countries were the consequence of decades long foreign occupation.

Serbia today needs additional strengthening of the barrier to partitocracy – a Head of State who is independent of all political parties and impartial to any of them. Our experience so far has clearly shown that it can not be a president of republic, just as it had not been so during the entire existence of the republican form of government in Serbia.

Head of State is not just a warrant of upholding the country’s constitution, but also its symbol, just like the anthem, coat of arms and flag.

Is there a more convincing symbol of Serbian statehood, history and tradition, than the direct descendant of the Supreme Leader Karadjordje Petrovic?

Has Serbia got a more prominent leader of transition than the great-great-grandson of Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic who led Serbia on its way from feudalism to a modern and prosperous European country?

Has Serbia got a better champion of civic liberties and human rights, rule of law and open society that treats all of its citizens with equal respect, regardless of their ethnic or religious origin, than the great-grandson of HM King Peter I?

Is there a more appropriate commander-in-chief of Serbian Army than the grandson of HM King Alexander I, who led it to victory in the Balkan Wars and WWI?

Is there a more distinguished representative of Serbian diplomacy than the son of HM King Peter II, who was among the first of the heads of states to sign the Atlantic Charter in 1942, which was the first step in founding the United Nations?

These are the reasons why the citizens of Serbia gathered in The Monarchist Initiative say: