March 21

The Solution: Constitutional Monarchy

Even staunch republicans must wonder at the resilience, stability and success of the constitutional monarchies of the world. Little wonder that as Spain emerged from the Franco era, she chose constitutional monarchy. When Iraq was a constitutional monarchy, albeit imperfect, the people of that country would not have believed the horrors that they would see perpetrated after the brutal massacre of the Royal Family and the declaration of a republic. After the Arab experience of so many republics, including those where the presidency is inherited, it is not surprising that two of the more liberal Arab states – Jordan and Morocco – are now moving towards constitutional monarchy. Whatever we think of the intervention by the US led Coalition of the Willing- and opinion remains divided about that- the claimant to the Iraqi throne is probably the safest choice the Iraqis could make for their new head of state in what seems to be emerging as a Westminster like model. The suggested three person presidency cannot function as a constitutional monarch for the simple reason that it will be no more than a committee consisting of three politicians who will operate as politicians do.

The issue of the emergence of a fully constitutional monarchy in Jordan arose after a meeting in Washington on 15 March, 2005, when President Bush met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in the Oval Office. Both were enthusiastic about some of the recent changes in the Middle East — among them, the elections in Iraq, the sliver of democracy which is emerging in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and the massive protests in Lebanon calling for the Syrian military to withdraw. After the White House meeting, King Abdullah was interviewed by Peter Jennings from ABC News ( the US and not the Australian network). A transcript may be found at

An extract follows:

Q: Would you be happy to be the head of a constitutional monarchy, as well …
A: Well, eventually … (Overlap)
Q: … than an absolute monarchy?
A: … eventually that’s what we’re trying to do, and by creating, decentralization, by trying to get these three regions, with their own elected parliaments, that will be the end game.
Q: So the end game could be a constitutional monarchy, not an absolute monarchy?
A: Absolutely. Because that — I mean, we have to modernize, I think monarchy plays a vital role in countries such as Jordan. I think there are a lot of positive aspects, but monarchies have to modernize, and a way of modernizing is to do these political reform issues that will give people a much larger say in the way their countries go.

Until next time,
David Flint


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