Constitutional Monarchy as Power Sharing

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In the transition to democracy some autocracies transformed to republics while others evolved to constitutional monarchies. The paper inquires how constitutional monarchy is established. It models a hereditary king and a liberal challenger who coexist over a succession of periods and fight for power which brings office rents and the right to decide one’s preferred policy. The outcome of the confrontation is uncertain and may vary from period to period. If the king wins, he establishes absolute monarchy, but if the liberal wins he establishes a republic. Instead of fighting they may agree on a constitutional monarchy and share office rents and policy making responsibilities. Whether constitutional monarchy is agreed depends on the marginal utilities from rents and policy preferences of the two actors, the sizes of the benefits from rents and policy, the rates by which they discount the future, and the probabilities of winning office. The contemporary European constitutional monarch as a ceremonial head of state who reigns but does not govern arises as a special case of the general model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-461
Number of pages31
JournalConstitutional Political Economy
Early online date17 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 2021
EventEuropean Public Choice Conference - Lille, France
Duration: 21 Apr 202122 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I am grateful to Roger Congleton and two anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions on an earlier draft. Their insights led to clarify several aspects of this work. The usual disclaimer applies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Constitutional exchange
  • Constitutional monarchy
  • European monarchies
  • King-and-council template
  • Power sharing
  • Republic


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