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Monarchism is the advocacy of the system of monarchy or monarchical rule. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government independently of any specific monarch, whereas one who supports a particular monarch is a royalist. Conversely, the opposition to monarchical rule is referred to as republicanism.
Depending on the country, a royalist may advocate for the rule of the person who sits on the throne, a regent, a pretender, or someone who would otherwise occupy the throne but has been deposed.
Monarchical rule is among the oldest political institutions. The similar form of societal hierarchy known as chiefdom or tribal kingship is prehistoric. Chiefdoms provided the concept of state formation, which started with civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt and the Indus Valley civilization. In some parts of the world, chiefdoms became monarchies.
Monarchs have generally ceded power in the modern era, having substantially diminished since World War I and World War II. This process can be traced back to the 18th century, when Voltaire and others encouraged "enlightened absolutism", which was embraced by the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II and by Catherine II of Russia.
In 1685 the Enlightenment began. This would result in new anti-monarchist ideas which resulted in several revolutions such as the 18th century American Revolution and the French Revolution which were both additional steps in the weakening of power of European monarchies. Each in its different way exemplified the concept of popular sovereignty upheld by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. 1848 then ushered in a wave of revolutions against the continental European monarchies. World War I and its aftermath saw the end of three major European monarchies: the Russian Romanov dynasty, the German Hohenzollern dynasty, including all other German monarchies and the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg dynasty.
With the arrival of socialism in Eastern Europe by the end of 1947, the remaining Eastern European monarchies, namely the Kingdom of Romania, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Kingdom of Albania, the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, were all abolished and replaced by socialist republics.
Central Africa: In 1966, the Central African Republic was overthrown at the hands of Jean-Bédel Bokassa during the Saint-Sylvestre coup d'état. He established the Central African Empire in 1976 and ruled as Emperor Bokassa I until 1979, when he was subsequently deposed during Operation Caban and Central Africa returned to republican rule.
Ethiopia: In 1974, one of the world's oldest monarchies was abolished in Ethiopia with the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie.
China: China possessed a monarchy from prehistoric times up until 1912, when Emperor Puyi was deposed. He was briefly restored to the throne for twelve days during the Manchu Restoration in 1917, but this attempt was quickly undone by republican forces. The end of the Chinese monarchy ushered in the Republic of China.
India: In India, monarchies recorded history of thousands of years before the country was declared a republic country in 1950. King George VI had previously been the last Emperor of India until August 1947, when the British Raj dissolved. Karan Singh served as the last prince regent of Jammu and Kashmir until November 1952.
Iran: Monarchism possessed an important role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and also played a role in the modern political affairs of Nepal. Nepal was one of the last states to have had an absolute monarch, which continued until King Gyanendra was peacefully deposed in May 2008 and the country became a federal republic.
Japan: The Japanese Emperor is the last remaining head of state with the title of "Emperor". The Imperial House of Japan is the world's oldest, having existed continuously since at least the 6th century. Since the adoption of the 1947 Japanese constitution, the Emperor has been made a ceremonial head of state, without any nominal political powers. Today, Naruhito serves as the Emperor of Japan and enjoys wide support from the Japanese population.
Albania: The last separate monarchy to take root in Europe, Albania began its recognised modern existence as a principality (1914) and became a kingdom after a republican interlude in 1925-1928. Since 1945 the country has operated as an independent republic. The Albanian Democratic Monarchist Movement Party (founded in 2004) and the Legality Movement Party (founded in 1924) advocate restoration of the House of Zogu as monarchs - the concept has gained little electoral support.
Austria-Hungary: Following the collapse of Austria-Hungary, the Republic of German-Austria was proclaimed. The Constitutional Assembly of German Austria passed the Habsburg Law, which permanently exiled the Habsburg family from Austria. Despite this, significant support for the Habsburg family persisted in Austria. Following the Anschluss of 1938, the Nazi government suppressed monarchist activities. By the time Nazi rule ended in Austria, support for monarchism had largely evaporated.
In Hungary, the rise of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 provoked an increase in support for monarchism; however, efforts by Hungarian monarchists failed to bring back a royal head of state, and the monarchists settled for a regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, to represent the monarchy until it could be restored. Horthy ruled as regent from 1920 to 1944. During his regency, attempts were made by Karl von Habsburg (r. 1916–1918) to return to the Hungarian throne, which ultimately failed. Following Karl's death in 1922, his claim to the Kingdom of Hungary was inherited by Otto von Habsburg (1912-2011), although no further attempts were made to take the Hungarian throne.
France: During the French Revolution, the French First Republic was proclaimed in 1792 following the overthrow of Louis XVI. The Republic failed, and transitioned into the First French Empire under Napoleon I in 1804. Napoleon's fall in 1814 led to the Bourbon Restoration in France under Louis XVIII. The restored Kingdom of France lasted until 1830, save a brief period during the Hundred Days (1815) when Napoleon attempted to retake control. In 1830, King Charles X was overthrown during the July Revolution and replaced with his cousin, Louis Philippe I, who reigned as "King of the French". Louis Phillipe I ruled for 18 years, until his abdication due to the French Revolution of 1848. After this, the French Second Republic was formed, which lasted for just 4 years. Its first president, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, initiated a coup in 1851 and proclaimed himself Emperor Napoleon III the following year, establishing the Second French Empire. It lasted until 1870, and was succeeded by the French Third Republic.
Following Napoleon III's fall in 1870, Henri, Count of Chambord was offered the French throne, but he declined due to a disagreement with the French government. Due to his refusal, the French royalists intended to offer the crown to the Orleanist Prince Philippe, Count of Paris upon Henri's death. However, Henri lived longer than expected, and by the time of his death in 1883, support for monarchy had weakened too greatly to offer Phillipe the crown.
Since then, figures and groups such as Charles Maurras (1868-1952) and Action Française (founded in 1899) have advocated for the restoration of the monarchy. During World War II, many French monarchists fought (1940-1944) with the French Resistance. Some, such as Henri d'Astier de la Vigerie pushed for a coup against Vichy France, which would restore Henri, Count of Paris to the throne of France as King. However, this idea was stopped by Dwight D. Eisenhower, among others. After the war, Henri enjoyed wide popularity and maintained a friendship with Charles de Gaulle, whom he tried to convince to support a restoration of the monarchy. While de Gaulle was sympathetic, he ultimately abandoned the idea, and no serious attempt to restore the monarchy ever came to fruition. Today, the majority of French monarchists, a minority in France, are Orléanists and advocate for a restoration of the crown under Jean, Count of Paris, pretender to the throne as Jean IV. A smaller monarchist group, known as Legitimists, instead support Louis Alphonse de Bourbon, styled Louis XX.
Germany: In 1920s Germany a number of monarchists gathered around the German National People's Party (founded in 1918), which demanded the return of the Hohenzollern monarchy and an end to the Weimar Republic; the party retained a large base of support until the rise of Nazism in the 1930s, as Adolf Hitler staunchly opposed monarchism.
Italy: The aftermath of World War II saw the return of monarchist/republican rivalry in Italy, where a referendum was held on whether the state should remain a monarchy or become a republic. The republican side won the vote by a narrow margin, and the modern Republic of Italy was created.
Liechtenstein: There have been 16 monarchs of the Principality of Liechtenstein since 1608. The current Prince of Liechtenstein, Hans-Adam II, has reigned since 1989. In 2003, during a referendum, 64.3% of the population voted to increase the power of the prince.
Norway: The position of King of Norway has existed continuously since the unification of Norway in 872. Following the dissolution of union with Sweden and the abdication of King Oscar II of Sweden as King of Norway, the 1905 Norwegian monarchy referendum saw 78.94% of Norway's voters approving the government's proposition to invite Prince Carl of Denmark to become their new king. Following the vote, the prince then accepted the offer, becoming King Haakon VII.
In 2022, the Norwegian parliament held a vote on abolishing the monarchy and replacing it with a republic. The proposal failed, with a 134-35 result in favor of retaining the monarchy. The idea was highly controversial in Norway, as the vote was spearheaded by the sitting Minister of Culture and Equality, who had sworn an oath of loyalty to King Harald V of Norway the previous year. Additionally, when polls were conducted, it was found that 84% of the Norwegian public supported the monarchy, with only 16% unsure or against the monarchy.
Russia: Monarchy in the Russian Empire collapsed in March 1917, following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. Parts of the White movement, and in particular émigrés and their Supreme Monarchical Council(founded in 1921 and now based in Canada) continued to advocate for monarchy as "the sole path to the rebirth of Russia". In the modern era, a minority of Russians, including Vladimir Zhirinovsky (1946-2022), have openly advocated for a restoration of the Russian monarchy. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is widely considered the valid heir to the throne, in the event that a restoration occurs. Other pretenders and their supporters dispute her claim.
Spain: In 1868, Queen Isabella II of Spain was deposed during the Spanish Glorious Revolution. The Duke of Aosta , an Italian prince, was invited to rule and replace Isabella. He did so for a three-year period, reigning as Amadeo I before abdicating in 1873, resulting in the establishment of the First Spanish Republic. The republic lasted less than two years, and was overthrown during a coup by General Arsenio Martínez Campos. Campos restored the Bourbon monarchy under Isabella II's more popular son, Alfonso XII.
After the 1931 Spanish local elections, King Alfonso XIII voluntarily left Spain and republicans proclaimed a Second Spanish Republic. After the assassination of opposition leader José Calvo Sotelo in 1936, right-wing forces banded together to overthrow the Republic. During the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939, General Francisco Franco established the basis for the Spanish State (1939-1975). In 1938, the autocratic government of Franco claimed to have reconstituted the Spanish monarchy in absentia (and in this case ultimately yielded to a restoration, in the person of King Juan Carlos).
In 1975, Juan Carlos I became King of Spain and began the Spanish transition to democracy. He abdicated in 2014, and was succeeded by his son Felipe VI.
United Kingdom: In England, royalty ceded power to other groups in a gradual process. In 1215, a group of nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, which guaranteed the English barons certain liberties and established that the king's powers were not absolute. King Charles I was executed in 1649, and the Commonwealth of England was established as a republic. Highly unpopular, the republic was ended in 1660, and the monarchy was restored under King Charles II. In 1687–88, the Glorious Revolution and the overthrow of King James II established the principles of constitutional monarchy, which would later be worked out by Locke and other thinkers. However, absolute monarchy, justified by Hobbes in Leviathan (1651), remained a prominent principle elsewhere.
Following the Glorious Revolution, William III and Mary II were established as constitutional monarchs, with less power than their predecessor James II. Since then, royal power has become more ceremonial, with powers such as refusal to assent last exercised in 1708 by Queen Anne. Once part of the United Kingdom (1801-1922), southern Ireland rejected monarchy and became the Republic of Ireland in 1949. Support for a ceremonial monarchy remains high in Britain: Queen Elizabeth II (r. 1952–2022), possessed wide support from the U.K.'s population.
Vatican City State: The Vatican City State is considered to be Europe's last absolute monarchy. The micronation is headed by the Pope, who doubles as its monarch according to the Vatican constitution. The nation was formed under Pope Pius XI in 1929, following the signing of the Lateran Treaty. It was the successor state to the Papal States, which collapsed under Pope Pius IX in 1870. Pope Francis (in office from 2013) serves as the nation's absolute monarch.
Canada: Canada possesses one of the world's oldest continuous monarchies, having been established in the 16th century. Queen Elizabeth II had served as its sovereign since her ascension to the throne in 1952 until her death in 2022.
Mexico: After obtaining independence from Spain, the First Mexican Empire was established under Emperor Agustín I. His reign lasted less than one year, and he was forcefully deposed. In 1864, the Second Mexican Empire was formed under Emperor Maximilian I. Maximilian's government enjoyed French aid, but opposition from America, and collapsed after 3 years. Much like Agustín I, Maximilian I was deposed and later executed by his republican enemies. Since 1867, Mexico has not possessed a monarchy.
Today, some Mexican monarchist organizations advocate for Maximilian von Götzen-Iturbide or Carlos Felipe de Habsburgo to be instated as the Emperor of Mexico.
United States: English settlers first established the colony of Jamestown in 1607, taking its name after King James VI and I. For 169 years, the Thirteen Colonies were ruled by the authority of the British crown. The Thirteen American Colonies possessed a total of 10 monarchs, ending with George III. During the American Revolutionary War, the colonies declared independence from Britain in 1776. Despite erroneous popular belief, the Revolutionary war was in fact fought over independence, not anti-monarchism as is commonly believed. In fact, many American colonists who fought in the war against George III were monarchists themselves, who opposed George, but desired to possess a different king. Additionally, the American colonists received the financial support of Louis XVI and Charles III of Spain during the war.
After the U.S. declared its independence, the form of government by which it would operate still remained unsettled. At least 2 of America's Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton and Nathaniel Gorham, believed that America should be an independent monarchy, . Various proposals to create an American monarchy were considered, including the Prussian scheme which would have made Prince Henry of Prussia king of the United States. Hamilton proposed that the leader of America should be an elected monarch, while Gorham pushed for a hereditary monarchy. U.S. military officer Lewis Nicola also desired for America to be a monarchy, suggesting George Washington accept the crown of America, which he declined. All attempts ultimately failed, and America was founded a Republic.
During the American Civil War, a return to monarchy was considered as a way to solve the crisis, though it never came to fruition. Since then, the idea has possessed low support, but has been advocated by some public figures such as Ralph Adams Cram, Solange Hertz, Leland B. Yeager, Michael Auslin, Charles A. Coulombe, & Curtis Yarvin.
Main article: List of current monarchs of sovereign states
The majority of current monarchies are constitutional monarchies. In most of these, the monarch wields only symbolic power, although in some, the monarch does play a role in political affairs. In Thailand, for instance, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned from 1946 to 2016, played a critical role in the nation's political agenda and in various military coups. Similarly, in Morocco, King Mohammed VI wields significant, but not absolute power.
Liechtenstein is a democratic principality whose citizens have voluntarily given more power to their monarch in recent years.
There remain a handful of countries in which the monarch is the true ruler. The majority of these countries are oil-producing Arab Islamic monarchies like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Other strong monarchies include Brunei and Eswatini.
|Andorra||Co-Prince Emmanuel Macron|
|Co-Prince Joan Enric Vives i Sicília|
|Antigua and Barbuda||King Charles III|
|Papua New Guinea|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines|
|Bahrain||King Hamad bin Isa|
|Bhutan||King Jigme Khesar Namgyel|
|Brunei||Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah|
|Cambodia||King Norodom Sihamoni|
|Denmark||Queen Margrethe II|
|Eswatini||King Mswati III|
|Jordan||King Abdullah II|
|Kuwait||Emir Nawaf Al-Ahmad|
|Lesotho||King Letsie III|
|Liechtenstein||Prince Hans-Adam II|
|Luxembourg||Grand Duke Henri|
|Monaco||Sovereign Prince Albert II|
|Morocco||King Mohammed VI|
|Kingdom of the Netherlands||King Willem-Alexander|
|Norway||King Harald V|
|Oman||Sultan Haitham bin Tariq|
|Qatar||Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani|
|Saudi Arabia||King Salman|
|Spain||King Felipe VI|
|Sweden||King Carl XVI Gustaf|
|Tonga||King Tupou VI|
|United Arab Emirates||Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan|
|Vatican City||Pope Francis|
Absolute monarchy stands as an opposition to anarchism and, additionally since the Age of Enlightenment; liberalism, communism and socialism.
Otto von Habsburg advocated a form of constitutional monarchy based on the primacy of the supreme judicial function, with hereditary succession, mediation by a tribunal is warranted if suitability is problematic.
British political scientist Vernon Bogdanor justifies monarchy on the grounds that it provides for a nonpartisan head of state, separate from the head of government, and thus ensures that the highest representative of the country, at home and internationally, does not represent a particular political party, but all people. Bogdanor also notes that monarchies can play a helpful unifying role in a multinational state, noting that "In Belgium, it is sometimes said that the king is the only Belgian, everyone else being either Fleming or Walloon" and that the British sovereign can belong to all of the United Kingdom's constituent countries (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), without belonging to any particular one of them.
Thomas Hobbes wrote that the private interest of the monarchy is the same with the public. The riches, power, and humour of a monarch arise only from the riches, strength, and reputation of his subjects. An elected Head of State is incentivised to increase his own wealth for leaving office after a few years whereas a monarch has no reason to corrupt because he would be cheating himself.[a]
Thomas Hobbes wrote that a monarch can receive wise counsel with secrecy while an assembly cannot. Advisors to the assembly tend to be well-versed more in the acquisition of their own wealth than of knowledge; are likely to give their advices in long discourses which often excite men into action but don't govern them in it, moved by the flame of passion instead of enlightenment. Their multitude is a weakness.[b]
Thomas Hobbes wrote that the resolutions of a monarch are subject to no inconsistency save for human nature; in assemblies, inconsistencies arise from the number. For in an assembly, as little as the absence of a few or the diligent appearance of a few of the contrary opinion, "undoes today all that was done yesterday".[c]
Thomas Hobbes wrote that a monarch cannot disagree with himself, out of envy or interest, but an assembly may and to such a height that may produce a civil war.[d]
The International Monarchist League, founded in 1943, has always sought to promote monarchy on the grounds that it strengthens popular liberty, both in a democracy and in a dictatorship, because by definition the monarch is not beholden to politicians.
British-American libertarian writer Matthew Feeney argues that European constitutional monarchies "have managed for the most part to avoid extreme politics"—specifically fascism, communism, and military dictatorship—"in part because monarchies provide a check on the wills of populist politicians" by representing entrenched customs and traditions. Feeny notes that
European monarchies - such as the Danish, Belgian, Swedish, Dutch, Norwegian, and British - have ruled over countries that are among the most stable, prosperous, and free in the world.
Socialist writer George Orwell argued a similar point, that constitutional monarchy is effective at preventing the development of Fascism.
"The function of the King in promoting stability and acting as a sort of keystone in a non-democratic society is, of course, obvious. But he also has, or can have, the function of acting as an escape-valve for dangerous emotions. A French journalist said to me once that the monarchy was one of the things that have saved Britain from Fascism...It is at any rate possible that while this division of function exists a Hitler or a Stalin cannot come to power. On the whole the European countries which have most successfully avoided Fascism have been constitutional monarchies...I have often advocated that a Labour government, i.e. one that meant business, would abolish titles while retaining the Royal Family.’
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn took a different approach, arguing that liberty and equality are contradictions. As such, he argued that attempts to establish greater social equality through the abolishment of monarchy, ultimately results in a greater loss of liberty for citizens. He believed that equality can only be accomplished through the suppression of liberty, as humans are naturally unequal and hierarchical. Kuehnelt-Leddihn also believed that people are on average freer under monarchies than they are under democratic republics, as the latter tends to more easily become tyrannical through ochlocracy. In Liberty or Equality, he writes
"There is little doubt that the American Congress or the French Chambers have a power over their nations which would rouse the envy of a Louis XIV or a George III, were they alive today. Not only prohibition, but also the income tax declaration, selective service, obligatory schooling, the fingerprinting of blameless citizens, premarital blood tests—none of these totalitarian measures would even the royal absolutism of the seventeenth century have dared to introduce."
Hans-Hermann Hoppe also argues that monarchy helps to preserve individual liberty more effectively than democracy.
In a 1943 essay in The Spectator, "Equality", British author C.S. Lewis criticized egalitarianism, and its corresponding call for the abolition of monarchy, as contrary to human nature, writing,
A man's reaction to Monarchy is a kind of test. Monarchy can easily be 'debunked'; but watch the faces, mark well the accents, of the debunkers. These are the men whose tap-root in Eden has been cut: whom no rumour of the polyphony, the dance, can reach—men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch...Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.
Oxford political scientists Petra Schleiter and Edward Morgan-Jones wrote that in monarchies, it is more common to hold elections than non-electoral replacements.
Notable works arguing in favor of monarchy include
|Country||Polling firm/source||Sample size||Percentage of supporters||Date conducted||Ref.|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Government constitutional referendum||17,782||52%||November 2018|
|Canada||Nanos Research||1,001||48%||June 2022|||
|Japan||Kyodo News||83%||May 2019|||
|Morocco||Le Monde||1,108||91%||March 2009|||
|New Zealand||Newshub-Reid||48%||February 2022|||
|Saint Vincent||Government constitutional referendum||52,262||56.3%||November 2009|
|Spain||Platform for Independent Media||3,000||34.9%||October 2020|||
|Thailand||Suan Dusit Rajabhat University||5,700||60%||October 2020|||
|Tuvalu||Government constitutional referendum||1,939||64.9%||April 2008|||
|United Kingdom||YouGov||4,870||61%||May 2021|||
See also: List of monarchy referendums
The following is a list of former monarchies and their percentage of public support for monarchism.
|Country||Polling firm/source||Sample size||Percentage of supporters||Date conducted||Ref.|
|Austria||[note 2]||[note 2]||20%[note 2]||[note 2]|||
|Barbados||University of the West Indies||500||12%||November 2021|||
|Brazil||Círculo Monárquico Brasileiro||188||32%||September 2019|||
|Croatia||Consilium Regium Croaticum||1,759||41%||2019|||
|Czech Republic||SC&C Market Research||13%||2018|||
|France||BVA Group||953||17%||March 2007|||
|Greece||Kappa Research||2,040||11.6%||April 2007|||
|Nepal||Interdisciplinary Analysts||3,000||49%||January 2008|||
|Portugal||Catholic University of Portugal/Diário de Notícias||1,148||11%||March 2010|||
|Romania||Institutul Român pentru Evaluare și Strategie||1,073||21%||March 2016|||
|Russia||Russian Public Opinion Research Center||~1,800||28%[note 3]||March 2017|||
|Serbia||SAS Intelligence||1,615||39.7%||April 2013|||
|United States||YouGov||1,493||5%||April 2021|||
Main article: List of monarchists
Several notable public figures who advocated for monarchy or are monarchists include:
Main article: Criticism of monarchy
Criticism of monarchy can be targeted against the general form of government—monarchy—or more specifically, to particular monarchical governments as controlled by hereditary royal families. In some cases, this criticism can be curtailed by legal restrictions and be considered criminal speech, as in lèse-majesté. Monarchies in Europe and their underlying concepts, such as the Divine Right of Kings, were often criticized during the Age of Enlightenment, which notably paved the way to the French Revolution and the proclamation of the abolition of the monarchy in France. Earlier, the American Revolution had seen the Patriots suppress the Loyalists and expel all royal officials. In this century, monarchies are present in the world in many forms with different degrees of royal power and involvement in civil affairs:
The twentieth century, beginning with the 1917 February Revolution in Russia and accelerated by two world wars, saw many European countries replace their monarchies with republics, while others replaced their absolute monarchies with constitutional monarchies. Reverse movements have also occurred, with brief returns of the monarchy in France under the Bourbon Restoration, the July Monarchy, and the Second French Empire, the Stuarts after the English Civil War and the Bourbons in Spain after the Franco dictatorship.
A republic, according to the modern usage of the word, signifies a political community which is not under monarchical government ... in which one person does not possess the entire sovereign power.
a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch ... a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law
a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. ... a state in which the head of government is not a monarch or other hereditary head of state.
[...] the local elections of 12 April [...] turned into a plebiscite between Monarchy and republicanism. It was soon clear that the republicans had won in most of the provincial capitals. [...] Alfonso XIII abdicated, and a good many cities and towns proclaimed the Republic on 14 April 1931.
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