What Is Constitutionalism

437 Words2 Pages
Question What is constitutionalism? How does it differ from absolutism? Constitutionalism, as opposed to absolutism, balances authority throughout the government. Not only does it create equilibrium in governance, it also gives liberties and rights to its people. It does so by consisting of a set of rules and principles, “. . . creating, structuring, and possibly defining the limits of, government power or authority.” (Waluchow) Absolutism, on the other hand, the monarch would claim power by “divine right”. They and only they created law, in a pure absolutist state. The monarch would control the armies, regulate religious order, and bargain with nobility. Constitutionalism was based on agreed law through the parliament, balanced between government power and rights of the people. The parliament, consisting of the sovereign, is where the power resides in a constitutional state. The majority of power stands in the electorate and its representatives. The monarch serves as the head of state, while having some authority, certainly doesn’t control all of it. In contrast to the absolutist state, where there is no parliament in any sense. It is solely on the king or queen, who has the ultimate decision on everything. Absolute rulers had control over religious sects; they could “. . . abolish the liberties long held by certain areas, groups, or provinces.”(p532) However, the parliament having power in constitutionalism, the monarch lost that kind of power. For example, Charles I (r. 1625-1649) was quite partial towards Catholicism. That made the puritans in the House of Commons a little apprehensive. They disliked the religious changes he was pursuing; resulting in parliament limiting Charles’ powers. This was partly the reason of his execution in 1649. The electorate had control over the monarch in this state. “A nation’s constitution may be
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