Does Montesquieu believe that monarchy is always the best form of government? Why or why not?
In The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu discussed political theory and the three types of governments. He further described the merits of a constitutional system of government and the need for separation of powers.
Montesquieu acknowledged the existence of three types of governments: a republic, a monarchy, and despotism. A republic is considered democratic when it extends wider citizen rights and aristocratic when some of these rights are restricted. In a monarchy, there are fixed laws, but authority is vested in a king or queen. In a despotic government, authority is vested in a despot and the system has no fixed laws.
Montesquieu advocated for the separation of powers where the government is made up of three separate arms: the executive, legislature, and judiciary. The three arms are expected to check the powers of each other preventing the concentration of power around a particular individual or group. He further, suggested that separation of powers would be achieved in a democratic government.
Although his work was not an attack on the monarchical or despotic systems of government, Montesquieu asserted that a republic, especially a democracy, was a better form of governance. This was because a democracy would only succeed if founded on strong virtues.
THERE is no great share of probity necessary to support a monarchical or despotic government: the force of laws, in one, and the prince’s arm, in the other, are sufficient to direct and maintain the whole: but, in a popular state, one spring more is necessary, namely, virtue.
In addition, over-reliance on a despot places the government in a precarious position. When the individual fails, the state crumbles.
A moderate government may, whenever it pleases, and without the least danger, relax its springs: it supports itself by the laws and by its own internal strength. But, when a despotic prince ceases one single moment to lift up his arm, when he cannot instantly demolish those whom he has intrusted with the first employments, all is over: for, as fear, the spring of this government, no longer subsists, the people are left without a protector.
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