“Politika”, 21 January 2004 (Readers’ Corner)
The King as a symbol
If there is need for a leader, he should be outside politics
I’m afraid that critics as well as those who defend monarchy take their attitudes too emotionally when it comes to the form of state system in Serbia (I refer to the previously published letters in the Readers’ Corner: “Monarchy – the best solution” – 28 November 2003; “Monarchies relics of the past” – 1 December 2003; “Why the presidential elections failed” – 6 December 2003; “One hundred reasons against monarchy”- 8 December 2003; “Precedent in the history of state law” – 9 December 2003; “Why monarchy?” – 16 December 2003; “Referendum on reestablishment of monarchy” – 17 December 2003). For, if it is everyone’s goal to find a way for Serbia to become an open society and a state ruled by law, in which an individual would be not only a distinct value, but an elementary one as well, free to criticize others’ proposals – abiding the democratic procedures – particularly those coming from the centers of political power, we need a different kind of arguments, deriving from the present moment in Serbia.
We have a type of state which is multicultural and multi ethnic, with very strong national and country’s identity, insomuch that the question raises whether a civic state of Serbia can be established at all, from such a liberal point of view. Certainly a solution is in distinction of traditional and political society, with the latter following purely formal principles and universal procedures. In the area of politics it should be insisted on formal rights, not on particular identities, insist on state territorial nationality, and discuss cultural and ethnic elements through civic society.
Of course, this is all undisputable until it comes to merging principles of liberalism with principles of multiculturalism, which means institutionalization of minorities’ rights, leaving behind primary role of individual rights and relying on cultural and ethnic rights of the minorities. Why not of the majority?
Difficult implementation of these principles, which de facto are non existing in these parts, into the new Serbian Constitution that combines liberalism and multiculturalism, is inevitable, so I see the only way out in reestablishment of constitutional parliamentary monarchy. As a counterpoint to positive discrimination on behalf of minorities, where in a civic state a monarch would be institutionalized from the majority ethnic and cultural community after which the country bears the name. He would have many protocol and representative functions, but also present collective memory, cultural values, history, language and tradition, which in these parts is all so important. A Balkan man gives much importance to symbols, and the King is a symbol. The known character feature of majority nation – authoritarianism – as seen from the historical (slavery and Asian despotism of the Ottoman Empire), geo-strategic (borderline of civilizations) and cultural (tradition, religion, culture) point of view, undoubtfully leads to the need for a leader.
And indeed, isn’t it better, if there is already the need for a leader, to find him outside the field of politics, and yet to be institutionalized in that field, to be an authority, and yet essentially outside any center of power. What do we gain in that way? The Parliament free for national debate through confrontation of liberalism and socialism, and not through confrontation of those who accept democracy and those who understand it differently. By introducing monarchy, someone might ask, wouldn’t republic be better – and that is excellent. The discussion will shift to the issue of the state system form (monarchy or republic), which would put aside the very dangerous discussion on whether the country should have democratic or authoritarian order, and this dilemma would lose its importance.
Student of the Faculty of Political Science Belgrade
Copyright © 1998 NJ.K.V. Prestolonaslednik Aleksandar II
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