I could absolutely see the series ending in some first baby-steps towards constitutional monarchy. There might well still be something like the Iron Throne - not as we know it in its current glory, but some institution that draws its legitimacy from this tradition, albeit greatly reduced in its powers - but there might also be some Magna Charta/Bill of Rights-type deal paving the way to constitutional monarchy. And once you have a proper House of Lords which can vote on the important stuff, you can start dreaming about a House of Commons. Introduce the notion of suffrage and the moral arc of history will hopefully bend towards its expansion. The Dream of Spring won’t quite get us there, but a dream is a start.
All we need now is a new King weak/enlightened enough to be bullied/convinced to sign a Bill of Rights. Luckily, you don’t have to reach very far to find parallels between the situation that led to the historical Bill of Rights and the situation as it’s shaping up in Westeros. The Bill of Rights came into being, when some disgruntled English aristocrats wanted to get rid of their catholic-loving Stuart-King because of the threat of a catholic heir. They supported an invasion of William of Orange married to the Stuart King’s conveniently non-catholic daughter Mary. But of course, with William and Mary not having the strongest of claims, their allies had some leeway to dictate the terms and, the narrowly averted threat of the Catholic-heir fresh on their minds, they had a big incentive to exploit that advantage and have it set in stone.
Aegon could well be Westeros’ William of Orange - the foreign invader with a tenuous claim to the throne welcomed by the disatisfied subjects. Alas, is his claim weak enough to make him sign a bill of rights? Well, his military might could be weak enough…. then again, I don’t think Aegon will be endgame. But once, such a document is set up, things often develop a dynamic of their own.
The British were ushered towards democracy by their fear of Catholicism. For the Westerosi, it might be the fear of Rhollorism that does the trick.
The trouble with this parallel (while I do kind of like the basic idea) is that the Glorious Revolution took place in 1689. ASOIAF takes place in a society that’s roughly at the level of the thirteenth or fourteenth century - at least two hundred years BEFORE the Glorious Revolution, barely a few decades after the Magna Carta, before the Renaissance, before the Civil War, before the prosperity of trade and diplomacy and the fifty-year reign of a ruler like Elizabeth I (who was always REALLY CAREFUL not to start wars with people because they were so fucking expensive) allowed the slow but steady rise of educated middle classes -
Basically, societal conditions in ASOIAF are SHIT for anything like a democratic revolution to take place. You’ve got no widespread education - no prosperity or security among the population in general. Democratic revolutions got started two ways: either you fucked up so hard and so long that you ended up in France in 1789 or Russia in 1917, or you allowed the steady rise of the middle classes and widespread education (and let’s be clear, the educated middle classes were INSTRUMENTAL in the French revolution, it wasn’t all people in rags running around with pitchforks shouting for bread, and equally instrumental in the Bolshevik revolution, the reason Russian reforms took so long and were so fucked up in the 19th century was because the aristocrats retained HUGE control over a HUGE part of the population - the serfs who worked the land - that the middle classes rising in the cities simply couldn’t compete with) to the point where you HAD to grant some sort of political rights to those people or be faced with, well, widespread violent revolt (which is basically what happened in Britain). Hell, Westeros doesn’t even have a Magna Carta.
Now Magna Carta is commonly misunderstood to be a kind of FREEDOM!!!!! AND CAKE!!!! AND A HARD-BOILED EGG!!!!!!!! type document that laid the cornerstone for England’s democracy as far back as 1215. This is historical myth-making and general bollocks of the worst kind. The Magna Carta was a document drawn up by the barons - ie the magnates of the kingdom, the real-life equivalent of the great families of Westeros - meant to protect THEIR sorry arses, not the people’s.
At the moment the barons in Westeros are too busy trying to plant their arses on the actual throne itself.
The thing is that documents like the Magna Carta or the Bill of Rights aren’t born out of periods of instability and religious discontent. They’re primarily born out of baronial/parliamentary resistance to the rule of an otherwise strong and legitimate king. They are instruments of defence, not cornerstones for a new order in the kingdom.
(Also the Glorious Revolution was kiiiiiind of the high point of a process that had been ongoing since, well, the Magna Carta in that Parliament had been arguing with five hundred years’ worth of Kings over how much power it had and in 1689 PARLIAMENT FINALLY WON. That’s a lot of development, both in legal and societal terms, that Westeros simply doesn’t have.)
(Also TAXES. The most important concession ever wrung out of any King or Queen of England was that they weren’t permitted to raise taxes without consent of Parliament. On that concession is the constitutional monarchy founded. We have no indication in the books that taxes are an issue in King’s Landing. Or in fact anywhere else in the country. The Lannisters shit gold, they don’t need your stinking taxes….?)
I’m also somewhat hesitant about the religious parallel. In 1689 England had been fighting over the Catholic questions for 150 years. There was over a century’s worth of oppression and fear and civil war and Star Chambers behind the Glorious Revolution - for example, making the Anglican Church the religion of the State meant that misdemeanours which had hitherto been considered minor heresy and usually dealt with by the Church now became, by default, something like lèse majesté. Because to insult the Church was now the same as insulting the State, and if you insulted the State you were insulting the King or Queen.
A hundred and fifty years of vicious built-up religious resentment on both sides. I’d be surprised if GRRM can engineer Westeros to reach the same boiling point in less than a decade.
I think if we’re going to have any kind of constitutional monarchy at the end of the books, it’s going to be a Magna Carta type deal, probably in response to the great families of Westeros demanding some kind of surety for their families and inheritance from a descendant of Mad King Aerys.
They’d start a proper fight over it, but who’s gonna argue with three fire-breathing dragons?