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Old 09-22-2012, 10:34 AM
espejor's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Sevilla, Spain
Posts: 178
Referenda For Monarchy / Republic

Hi! I would like to know how many referendums monarchy vs. republic have been held in the History. I remember these:

-Bulgaria: With the country occupied by the Sovietic troops, a referendum was held and the monarchy abolished.

-Italy: The Italian monarchy was abolished in the 1946 referendum.

-Belgium: Was the question royale a referendum about the continuance of the Belgian dynasty or "only" about if the suitable king was Leopold III or Baudouin I?

-Greece: The 1974 referendum showed very clearly that the Greek people didn't want the Royal Family to return.

-Iran: Shortly after the Shah left Tehran, a public referendum abolished the monarchy with more of the 95% of the votes were favourable to the proclamation the Islamic Republic...

-Brazil: In the 90's, due to the request of a member of the parliament, was celebrated a referendum one century after the downfall of the Orleŕns-Bragança.

-Cambodia: Was the 1993 plebiciste a referendum about the monarchy or simply a new constitution was promulgated?

-Albania: In 1997 the monarchical option won the popular plebiscite, but the governement manipulated the results. Officially, only one third of the Albanians voted for the return of king Leka.

-Australia: A plebiciste in 1999 was held and the 55% of the votes were pro-monarchy.

I don't know more examples of referendums held about monarchy vs. republic. And you?

Regards and thank you!

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Old 06-22-2014, 03:47 PM
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Paris, France
Posts: 274
Apart from the 1974 one, there have been quite a few referendums regarding the monarchy in Greece, most notably in 1920, 1924, 1935 and 1946. The vote went in favour of the monarchy in 1920, 1935 and 1946 and against in 1924 and 1974.

However, by proper democratic standards, most, if not all, of the above were highly suspect. In 1974, for example, the King wasn't even allowed into the country to campaign, being limited to a TV broadcast from abroad and in 1935, the vote was not even secret.

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Old 06-22-2014, 04:52 PM
Duc_et_Pair's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: City, Netherlands
Posts: 9,823
The Belgian referendum was not about a choice between Leopold III or Baudouin. It was King Leopold III himself (!) whom urged for a referendum, against the wish of the Government (!). The result was: 58% pro Leopold III and 42% against, but the regional diffferences were strong. In the whole of the Dutch speaking part, the King got a clear victory. In the French speaking part the King got a majority in the rural parts but in the more industrialized provinces of Ličge and Namur he won no majority.

The King and the Government interpreted the result as a victory but strikes and riots broke out in the French speaking parts of the country. The situation went out of hand when during riots four demonstrators were killed by police bullets. The public opinion in the French speaking parts turned worse and worser. The King decided to abdicate in favour of his son Prince Baudouin.

So the referendum was not at all about monarchy vs republic. But about a return of the King in 1950. (From 1944 to 1950 the King's brother Prince Charles acted as Regent).
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Old 06-22-2014, 05:49 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Philadelphia, United States
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Many of the anti-royalists votes, such as Italy, Bulgaria and Romania, like Albania, were fraudulent.
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Old 06-22-2014, 06:46 PM
Iluvbertie's Avatar
Imperial Majesty
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Bathurst, Australia
Posts: 12,530
The 1999 vote in Australia was a referendum not a plebiscite - in Australia they are different things.

A referendum is a vote to change the constitution and that was what the vote was in 1999.

A plebiscite is to gauge the public's support for an issue - such as the conscription issues in 1916 and 1917 (which are erroneously referred to in textbooks etc as referenda but they weren't binding on the government and so were plebiscites).
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Old 07-09-2014, 06:30 AM
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Victoria, Australia
Posts: 228
I've been looking into referendums of the last century to see how many can be classed as a "free and fair" vote in a stable political climate. If you exclude the ones that happened in the wake of destabilising situations such as war and revolution, it looks like a referendum is the least effective way to abolish a monarchy. In the last hundred years approximately 100 monarchies (national and sub-national) disappeared, most of them without even the pretence of electoral confirmation.

The 1960 South African referendum was not fair, as only whites were allowed to vote. Greece 1974 seems to comes close to being "free and fair", but it was not a secure political climate. So it looks like the Australian referendum of 1999 was about the only one to be held in a stable political climate, after the due process of a constitutional convention, and it was defeated.

Many of the world's monarchies are not politically stable, and, as history shows, nothing is more dangerous to a monarchy than war, revolution or a military coup (even if the monarchy is not the target of the unrest). They should not take anything for granted. But what about the likelihood of Europe's monarchies (and a few others like Japan) ever facing the boot? For these most democratic of nations, surely a referendum is the only way to relieve themselves of the services of their ruling family? Without a juicy scandal to kick start things, is a theoretical debate about an hereditary or elected head of state going to inspire a movement strong enough to bring on a referendum?
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:14 AM
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Victoria, Australia
Posts: 228
Here's another one for the free and fair category, and, again, it was defeated. Tuvalu 2008. Less than 25% of enrolled voters made an effort to cast a vote. Does indifference ultimately help maintain the status quo? If so, it could also be a major stumbling block for restoration movements.
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Old 07-11-2014, 05:17 AM
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Paris, France
Posts: 274
Originally Posted by Chubb Fuddler View Post
Greece 1974 seems to comes close to being "free and fair", but it was not a secure political climate.
It seems to me that the 1974 Greek referendum cannot be regarded as free and fair when the King was not allowed to return to the country following the overthrow of the junta. During the referendum campaign, still banned from Greece, he was limited to a broadcast on Greek Television and sending messages. Had he been able to interact personally with the voters, explain his vision and address concerns, the result may not have been the same.

That said, maybe the decisive 70/30 result from a 75% turnout was what Greece needed and a more even split could have led to greater instability. The King's respect for the result was, in that light, a noble service to the country, echoing the actions of Umberto II of Italy in 1946.
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Old 07-11-2014, 11:11 PM
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Victoria, Australia
Posts: 228
I'm not sure what to make of the 1974 plebiscite. It seems to have been free, but fair? Certainly the King was at a disadvantage by not being allowed to return to Greece. But Mr Karamanlis did not take part in the campaign, nor did any members of the government, which contained supporters of both sides. It was left to the royalists and republicans to run their own campaign, and both sides were given equal television time to make their case. In theory it sounds fair enough, but there is one more important factor to consider: the influence of the person who sets the agenda on its outcome.

There was no legal or constitutional reason to hold a referendum or plebiscite on the monarchy. The parliament could have debated the issue and made a decision one way or the other without recourse to a popular vote. But Mr Karamanlis had other ideas. After the collapse of the colonels' regime in July 1974, Mr Karamanlis became leader of a government of national unity. He took control of the monarchy versus republic debate and set the agenda. He announced that parliamentary elections would take place in November, followed, just two week's later, by a plebiscite on the monarchy. He decided when the vote would take place, and what the question would be. He controlled the situation in order to give the result he wanted the best chance of success.*

The New Democracy party, with the support of its royalist members, obtained a large majority at the November elections. The plebiscite was next, and the new Prime Minister could afford to appear magnanimous and impartial by announcing that neither he nor any members of the government would take part in the campaign. It was quite an impressive display of political manoeuvring. Unfortunately, the King was no match for this seasoned politician.

I once read somewhere that republicans in Athens put up large posters of Queen Frederika, with the foreboding caption "I AM COMING BACK!" I wonder if it is true? It's interesting how close the results of the 1973 and 1974 plebiscites were. The plebiscite of 1973 was staged by the military regime to bolster their authority. The result was 75% for a republic, but it was considered a rigged result. But maybe it was, after all, an accurate reflection of Greek opinion. Less than 18 months later the free vote was 70% for a republic. I think King Constantine's decision to swear in the colonels in 1967 fundamentally undermined his reign. Even if he had returned to Greece to campaign, I doubt the result would have been much different.

* Tridimas, G. (2010). "Referendum and the choice between monarchy and republic in Greece." Constitutional Political Economy 21(2): 119-144.

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