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Difference between Absolutism and Constitutionalism

Difference between Absolutism and Constitutionalism

Absolutism and constitutionalism are two distinct political systems that have played an important role in history and continue to shape our modern world. Understanding the ideas behind these philosophies is key for comprehending governmental structures today, both at home and abroad. Although each concept has its merits, they are fundamentally different; absolutism emphasizes a strong centralized government with unrestricted authority over citizens led by one absolute ruler while constitutionalism uses laws to limit governmental power while protecting citizens’ rights. In this article, we will explore what exactly separates absolutism from constitutionalism and why it continues to be so significant today.

What is Absolutism?

Absolutism is a form of government in which a ruler or small group holds all power, usually through a specific set of laws and customs. Absolutism was popular among monarchies in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, but it is still seen around the world today.

  • Absolutism stands in contrast to other forms of government, such as democracy or communism, which are characterized by more power being given to citizens or individuals.
  • The absolutist idea relies on the belief that one person or small group can make decisions better than the masses. However, history has shown us that this mode of governance has often led to tyranny and abuses of power.
  • Absolutism may be an appealing solution to some problems, but it is important to consider any potential negative effects before embracing a completely absolutist system.

What is Constitutionalism?

Constitutionalism is a set of political beliefs that emphasize the importance of a written constitution for setting limits on government. Constitutionalism sees the creation and enforcement of an objective, legal framework as essential for protecting individual rights and freedoms from possible interference or violation by state power.

Constitutionalism is central to liberal democracies since it creates a system that promotes democracy and liberty from arbitrary rule. Constitutionalism helps establish stability in government by providing set guidelines that mandate how the government makes decisions while subsequently limiting its ability to make impulsive decisions. Constitutionalism has been adopted in many countries across the world, making it one of the defining elements of any modern state.

Difference between Absolutism and Constitutionalism

  • Absolutism and Constitutionalism are two different methods of governing a country or nation. Absolutism is a system of government in which a single ruler, often a monarch, holds all political power.
  • As such, Absolutism allows for complete authority over its citizens and laws, without requiring consent from the people it governs. On the other hand, in Constitutionalism the power lies with the people rather than the ruler; this type of government limits the leader’s authority and provides citizens with certain rights that cannot be taken away by any governmental body.
  • Thus, Absolutism gives ultimate power to a single ruler whereas Constitutionalism relies on citizen consent and allows for greater transparency and more restrictions on governmental powers.


In conclusion, it is evident that there are clear differences between absolutism and constitutionalism. While absolutism allows for a single ruler to have complete power over the country, constitutionalism limits the power of the government through a set of laws. As we can see from historical examples, both systems have their pros and cons. In general, countries seem to fare better under the constitutional rule as opposed to absolutist rule; however, this does not mean that absolutist regimes cannot be successful. It is important to remember that each country is unique and what works for one might not work for another.

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