sourmìlk wrote:Holy shit, that's some serious stuff. Apparently the Queen has the power to order military strikes, to appoint prime ministers, etc.
A lot of politics in Europe is based on tradition. Especially in England, who after nearly a thousand years still haven't gotten around to writing down their constitution.
Yes, the queen (or king in a few nations. Though surprisingly many monarchs are female in Europe) is the head of state. And she has very broad powers in theory. But in practice she is controlled by parliament. Sure, she could order a military strike. It wouldn't happen though. She would be quietely and politely told to mind her own business. If she insisted, she'd eventually be removed, either temporarily or permanently. A good example happened in Belgium in 1990. The monarch's signature is required on all laws, and they do not take effect until he has signed them. In theory that means he can block any law. In practice however it is understood that he signs everything. Laws are made by parliament, he doens't get to veto them. So what happens if he does? Well in 1990 King Boudewijn I of Belgium refused to sign a law legalizing abortion. This was resolved by declaring him unfit for office, having parliament sign the law, and declaring him fit for office again.
On the other hand she does have real power. Her power however is strictly limited by what other people are willing to let her get away with. Especially during and after elections these powers are quite big. The monarch is kind of like the lubricant of the election process. When a new coalition has to be formed by many polical parties who all hate eachother, the monarch takes the leading role in getting them around the table.
Here in The Netherlands, in theory the queen appoints the cabinet. And not just that, but she also appoints the informateur (the person charged with leading coalition negotiations between parties) and the formateur (the guy charged with forming an actual coalition once the intitial talks lead by the informateur are going somewhere). This power is not just symbolical. Our queen has been known to sometimes come up with surprising names for those positions. And in Belgium the current king is very active in keeping all the parties talking, despite the seeming hopelessness of the situation.
But that power is still not unlimited. She can't stop parties from talking to eachother, and if they reach an agreement they will form a coalition with our without her support. This would lead to a constitutional crisis. Basically what a constitutional crisis means is: "Our constitution says X, but that is stupid so we are now going to do Y". Usually they have to do with the monarchy, and the monarch always loses these.