I am currently trying to create a system of government for a project that, for reasons I can't quite go into, combines elements from both European feudal systems with current democratic governments, as seen in America or the UK.
Without giving away plot specifics I'm going to try to divulge as many necessary bits of information as possible:
My main concern is to have the basic feudal structure intact: the king has lords, the lords have knights/vassals, and the knights/vassals protect a working class, who serve a function of that of a serf or peasant, but are given a much higher quality of living. For this reason, there are systems in place to protect the rights of the commoner, where they are represented and have rights that medieval European commoners did not.
I am trying to keep as many feudal jobs and professions in tact, give or take a few necessary changes. Putting typical cliché "RPG class" designations aside, I'm talking about things like manorial bailiffs and reeves, town criers, castellans, royal chamberlains and chancellors, etc. Naturally there's going to be some fluidity here as historical and cultural changes ensure their roles often changed and evolved, and having to also think of ways to include democratic elements in those positions will undoubtedly complicate things, but the important thing here is that the core of those positions (and their titles) are preserved.
I realize there are some modern-day examples, but I want to steer clear of copying them wholesale. There are, of course, democratic monarchies, the UK standing out the most, but even then that's not what I'm aiming for. The king of the country still holds absolute power; however, there is a congressional/parliamentary body in place to handle much of the kingdom's major issues, and to ensure the common people have a say, made up of representatives of different regions and special interest groups, etc. (the specifics of that are still being decided: I'm not really married to anything right now this far in the process, changing what I need to).
Regional power is still in the hands of lords (barons, dukes, what have you) who answer directly to the king, but are also expected to be held more directly responsible for the people they employ and protect than medieval counterparts, whose subjects had little to no rights.
Commoners still make up a poorer bottom-rung class of society, but they aren't necessarily living in filth and barely eking out a living. They might actually have more in common with the modern middle-class, although that is still being decided; point being, they have far more rights and opportunities than their historical analogues. They are allowed to own land, vote, pursue personal interests, leave manors, etc.
While it's not in the narrative, it might be best to think of this society as post-apocalyptic. Imagine a society that is stripped of modern luxuries, namely our advanced 21st-century technology, and must now resort to reverting back to this feudal state with many of its post-modern ideals still lingering and being passed along to future generations. Say, two or three down the line, there is a society somewhat resembling Europe in the Middle Ages (even down to the church having ultimate sway over some monarchs, in this case only one) but it now allows, say, women to own land, same-sex marriages, etc. It's not quite exact but it's as close as I can come without divulging too much.
That's as detailed as I can get at the moment: I'm sure I've forgotten some things and if I need to divulge more I will in future edits. Please feel free to ask me questions and I will try to answer them as best I can.
EDIT BY BSIDESWIPED: First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who responded so quickly and with so much helpful material; you don't know how much I appreciate it.
It seems to me that one of the main things that might cause a hangup in this whole situation is giving the monarch absolute power. So I guess an addendum I could make is that, maybe, for the sake of argument, let's say the monarch doesn't have absolute power, but serves a more dynamic purpose than just being a figurehead and a symbolic holdover. This problem may be solved already, though, as some of you have said that the church basically solves this need, but if you so choose, figure that addendum into your ideas as well.
Thank you again.