While military and civilian dictators tend to rule through fear, absolute monarchies do not depend exclusively on it and can also derive legitimacy from the historical, cultural and religious roles they play. That opportunity provides absolute monarchs with an option (constitutional monarchy) that is unavailable to other types of dictators. On the one hand, the institutional flexibility of that option might facilitate negotiations between an absolute monarch and the regime’s elites. On the other hand, it might complicate power-sharing, as the monarch may fail to commit to the principle of non-interference, while the regime’s elites may attempt to disempower the monarch. By formalizing a power-sharing game between a monarch and the regime’s elites, this paper argues that the threat of civil disobedience contributes to the resolution of commitment problems and also explains the reasons some constitutional monarchs hold and on occasion exercise substantive political powers despite the fact that their ability to survive presumably depends on their commitment to non-interference.
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