I am trying to find a clear conceptual difference in terms of how different monarchies are defined or classified. For example, let's consider three countries with monarchies: Kuwait, UAE, and Norway. How would we classify each monarchy and why?

I think it's clear to me that the UAE is an autocratic monarchy, however, I am confused in terms of the difference between Kuwait and Norway, given that both have elected representatives, but in the former the royal family still maintains greater political power, does that make Kuwait autocratic as the power is concentrated within a small number of individuals or a mixed political systems where elections are allowed and representation exists, but the monarchy still retains legal power over the parliament.

1 Answer 1


Wikipedia lists both Kuwait and the UAE as "Semi-constitutional Monarchies", a term which it defines as a Monarchy where the monarch has substantial powers similar to the President in a semi-Presidential Republic (which the vast majority of European Republics are. Republics in the Americas tend to be Presidential Republics).

Norway is a Constitutional Monarchy.

To clarify further, the difference between Presidential Republics and Semi-Presidential Republics is that in the later, the Head of State and the Head of Government are two separate offices, with the head of state being the President, and the Head of Government being the Prime Minister (or equivalent) whereas in Presidential Republics, the President is both the head of State and the Head of Government (Head of State is largely a symbolic representative of a Nation's peoples, while the Head of Government is the person who chairs the Cabinet and actually runs the show and makes the policy. That said, in Semi-Presidential Systems, the President usually has some responsibility in government, though that varies from nation to nation, and both the President and Prime Minister both have to agree to each other's policies in some way).

Constitutional Monarchies generally leave the royal family intact, but they have very little power in the form of actual government. Semi-Constitutional Monarchies have Monarchs with a bit more more authority.

  • Thanks for the thorough explanation! I saw on Wiki that both countries are classified in the same category, but find it extremely puzzling. Based on my studying of both countries, Kuwait is one of the few Arab countries where ministers are questioned and can be investigated by MPs, and protests are legal, while in the UAE, you can be imprisoned simply for critiquing a junior Gov't employee. Therefore, I am a bit confused that Kuwait is in the same bucket as countries like the UAE or Jordan.
    – nesta1990
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 19:54
  • @maldini1992 “semi-constitutional” is a fairly big bucket, covering (for Wikipedia) any system in which the monarch (or their family) has meaningful freedom of choice on executive issues, while still being constrained by the rule of law. This is a spectrum rather than a discrete label.
    – origimbo
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 22:12

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