What are the main similarities between democracy and monarchy?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are more differences than similarities. A monarchy relies on the rule of one person, while a democracy rules through a consensus of the people. Even with this difference, there are some commonalities. Many monarchies have claimed to have ruled in the name of God, while many democracies have claimed to rule in the name of the governed. In other words, the leaders of both forms of government seek some sort of legitimacy outside of themselves.

Most monarchies are hereditary. While democracies allow people from all walks of life to be leaders, there are tendencies to favor leaders with strong family ties to governing. Both democracy and monarchy were praised and demonized in Plato's Republic. According to Plato, a monarchy could be good if it had a good monarch, but bad if it had a tyrant. A democracy could be good if it responded to the will of the people, but it could turn into anarchy if everyone acted selfishly.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Though democracy and monarchy have more differences than similarities, there are some ways in which they overlap. Both democracies and monarchies govern through a consolidation of power. In a democracy, this power base is democratically elected by the masses; in a monarchy, the power base may be appointed through any number of means, but typically through primogeniture. In a democracy, the majority rules, while in a monarchy, only one person rules. However, even absolute monarchies throughout history often consulted a trusted group of advisors in order to gauge the popularity of proposed or enacted policies, help him or her understand the political ramifications of their actions, and let them speak for the common people. It's important to remember that, while monarchs can be tyrants, monarchies and dictatorships are not the same thing. The majority of present-day monarchs either have no state powers, or share power with democratically elected governments. Fewer than a dozen monarchies remain in the world; most are in the Middle East. Vatican City is also considered an absolute monarchy, with the Pope as the head.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial