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ACM Home arrow Convenor's Column arrow Constitutional Monarchies Are Better

Constitutional Monarchies Are Better Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 19 May 2005

During the referendum campaign, I was asked to participate in a debate at an inner city branch of the Liberal Party.

During the course of the debate, I mentioned that the most advanced countries tended to be constitutional monarchies. This was met with howls of derision. However, as I began to list the countries which are constiutional monarchies, the audience fell quiet.

We have regularly published, in this column and its predecessor ( the last time was on 16 July, 2004), as well as in our newspaper, some very clear evidence of this. No one has seriously attempted to rebut this.This evidence can be found in the annual UN Human Development Index which consotently demonstrates that constitutional monarchies, on all points, tend to perform better than republics. Recently, my attention was drawn to this excellent piece on this very point by Antony Carr:

Monarchy and Human Development
By Antony Carr

At long last, Prince Charles has married Camilla and the usual suspects have used the occasion to demonstrate that the monarchy is no longer relevant and should be abolished in Australia.

However, before we get out the axe and cry, ‘Off with their heads! ‘we should determine what system of government really is the best for the peace, order and good government of the people of Australia. How do republics compare with constitutional monarchies in promoting human welfare? Do constitutional monarchies restrict human development?

Fortunately, there is a reasonably objective way to answer these questions, courtesy of the UN Human Development Programme. We can use its Human Development Index (HDI), which was originally developed by the late Pakistani economist, Mahbub ul Haq. This index uses three dimensions to measure a country’s average human development, as follows:

1. A long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth;
2. knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weight) and the combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio (with one-third weight); and
3. a decent standard of living, as measured by Gross Domestic Product per capita expressed in US dollars on a purchasing power parity basis.

The latest index, the index for 2004, lists 177 countries in order of achievement. Nations ranked from one to 55 are deemed to have ‘High Human Development’, those from 56 to 141 are deemed to have ‘Medium Human Development’ and those from 142 to 177 are deemed to have ‘Low Human Development’. Australia is up near the top, currently in third spot, behind Norway and Sweden, and ahead of all other countries, including the United States. Those on the left of the political spectrum may be disturbed to learn that Australia has steadily moved up the rankings during the Howard ascendancy. Here's a list of the top twenty together with their latest Human Development Index scores. Those countries that happen to be constitutional monarchies are identified with an asterisk.

1. Norway * 0.956
2. Sweden * 0.946
3. Australia * 0.946
4. Canada * 0.943
5. Netherlands * 0.942
6. Belgium * 0.942
7. Iceland 0.941
8. United States 0.939
9. Japan * 0.938
10. Ireland 0.936
11. Switzerland 0.936
12. United Kingdom * 0.936
13. Finland 0.935
14. Austria 0.934
15. Luxembourg * 0.933
16. France 0.932
17. Denmark * 0.932
18. New Zealand * 0.926
19. Germany 0.925
20. Spain * 0.922

When you examine this list, some very interesting facts emerge.

    • The top six countries in the index are all constitutional monarchies, without exception.
    • Seven out of the top ten countries are constitutional monarchies.
    • Twelve or fully 60% of the top twenty countries are constitutional monarchies.

If we go to the bottom of the list, each one of the bottom twenty countries is a republic. Of course, nineteen out of the bottom twenty are in Africa and some may argue that this merely reflects the situation for blacks generally throughout the world. There is one notable exception to this general rule for black-ruled countries however, and that’s Barbados. Barbados is considered ‘highly developed’ and is ranked 29th. Is it irrelevant that the highest ranked black-run country in the world also happens to be a constitutional monarchy?

So, before we commit regicide, shouldn’t we ask ourselves why this is so. Of course, correlation does not necessarily imply causality. But that’s a bit of a two-edged sword. Even if it cannot be argued that the monarchy has itself necessarily caused higher human development in the countries concerned, it is reasonable to assert that the factors that have led people to prefer this constitutional structure may also be the same or at least closely related to the factors that have led to these countries generally achieving higher human development in the first place. In any case, it cannot be asserted on the evidence that abolishing the monarchy will necessarily promote Australia’s human development. Indeed, it may be the case that the attitudes of mind that lead people to support this change are antipathetic to our human development.

ACM NEWSPAPER NOW AVAILABLE

I hope that this contribution by Mr Carr on the UN Human Development Index will be read widely. Kerry Jones hopes to include it in the next issue of our newspaper, the ACM Newsletter, which goes to all current ACM financial supporters. The current issue is out, and if you have not received a copy, you should email the office.

GALLIPOLI

Further to my column on Gallipoli, a subscriber, Bruce A Knox, sent this letter to The Australian. While ACM has of course no position on foreign affairs as such, it is interesting to read the distinction he makes between being part of the former British Empire and the US alliance: Sir, May I add something to Greg Sheridans well-said and timely article of today? The British Empire was no doubt an "international system" but to equate it seamlessly with "the US alliance system" is a mistake. For it is one thing to be (as Greg Sheridan recognises) an integral part of a political and constitutional entity, accepting a certain inequality in "function" if not in "status" (as the famous declaration of 1926 put it). But, bereft of that structural understanding as a result of a catastrophe, it is quite different to have become a supplicant to a self-absorbed power which has no obligation historical or otherwise towards this country and no interest in its security except as, precisely, an appendage. To the end of empire might be traced, I suggest, a deep-seated insecurity in Australian national life which finds expression variously in such things as an exaggerated appreciation of multiculturalism, often embarrassing ineptitude in conforming to American policies, over-blown "patriotism" and boasting, and (dare I say it) republicanism. Greg Sheridans article and Mr. Beazleys speech which he reports, whether they realise it or not, are comments on this insecurity and some of its consequences. Yours etc.

PRINCE HARRY JOINS THE ARMY

It will be an immense test, says Colonel Tim Collins, the Royal Irish Regiment Co during the Iraq operation. The first five weeks of the 42 week officer training course at Sandhurst is likely to be the most rigorous for Prince Harry, where he will be known as Private Wales, and where he is to receive no special privileges:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/05/09/nharry09.xml

BRITISH ELECTION

An interesting sidelight was the remarkable influence of a single purpose group on the result. It is claimed that the pro hunting campaign was crucial in at least 29 of the 47 seats lost by Labour, and left another 21 Labour MPs with tiny majorities, which they have vowed to overturn next time. The countryside army avoided mentioning hunting and instead helped local candidates to campaign on schools and hospitals. Organisers said that hunt supporters delivered 3.4 million leaflets, addressed 2.1 million envelopes, put up 55,000 posters and provided 170,000 hours of -campaigning:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/05/08/nelec108.xml

In the recent federal election, ACM campaigned by drawing supporters attention to those candidates who were constitutional monarchists, and in certain key electorates in ensuring the distribution of near to one million copies of a pamphlet on the proposal to change the constitution by a cascading series of plebiscites and a referendum. In two electorates where the sitting members were declared republicans, it is believed that a number of ACM supporters who normally would have worked to return those candidates decided that they would work in other electorates. Both candidates lost their seats by small margins. It should of course be pointed out that ACM supporters can be found in all major political parties,and many are not aligned politically.In addition, ACM does not advise supporters how to vote in elections-it does however try to inform supporters on the opinions of candidates on the constitution.

Until Next Time,
David Flint
 
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