After 39 years of reign, Don Juan Carlos King of Spain announced on the 2nd of June 2014 his abdication in favour of his 46-year-old son, Prince Felipe of Asturias. He mentioned his son’s “incarnate stability due to his maturation, his preparation and his sense of responsibility”. The president of the government Mariano Rajoy Brey spoke of his”hope to pass the crown in peacefulness”, with the parliament wishing to transfer it on the 18th of June, but the Spanish people are expressing concerns with the monarchy.

That unexpected announcement rattled the Spanish citizens. In fact this effort to ‘‘revive the monarchy” had the opposite effect and created opposition. Millions of Spaniards annexed Madrid, Barcelona, Cadix and many other cities, are campaigning for the right to elect their representative. The slogans ”Tomorrow Spain will be a republic’‘ or #YArepublica (‘a republic now’)  are invading social networks together with the Spaniards’ concerns. They carry the red, yellow and purple flag symbolizing the nation in which they placed their hearts under the Second Republic years ago.

But why are Spanish people animated by anger in what should be a celebration of this momentous event? To begin with, after the death of General Franco in 1975 , Juan Carlos ascended to the throne and the government gradually progressed into constitutional monarchy, as confirmed by the Spanish constitution in 1978.  This created a partial democracy in which the king is limited to be the commander-in-chief of the army and mainly remain as the symbol of unity. However, unity is not quite the word to describe the closing years of the king’s  reign.

The many scandals surrounding him (the lavish elephant hunt, infidelities etc…)  discredited King Juan in the eyes of the people, with royalty and the government already being seen as inefficient .  Following ‘‘la Furia Roja” (the red fury) the country only started to recover bit by bit from the recession in 2011/2013 that, at its worst, lost 4.4 percent of GDP in 2013. The unflattering numbers never seem to end, with the current unemployment rate reaching 25.9 percent . Around a quarter of the population looking for a profession cannot obtain one.

Movements like the indignados (tThe Indignant) took place in 2011 at Puerto del Sol, joined by hundreds of others like joventud sin futuro  (Youth Without Future). In politics, the two-party system in the Cortes Generales ( parliament) led by the Popular Party (centre right) and the Spanish Socialist Worker Party (centre left) is another subject of concern.  The electoral system marginalises smaller parties. Consequently, left parties like ”Podemos”(We Can) and ”Izquierda unida’‘(United Left) rose in the European parliament, through the loss of 5 million votes from the PP and SSWP.

These left parties are currently supporting the move for a referendum on the monarchy. After all, they demand an end to an oligarchy and appease the vast numbers of unemployed concerned with their future. Another problem however remains the public debt covering more than 90 percent of Spain’s GDP, estimated to exceed 99 percent at the end of 2014.

Adding the territorial issues: Catalunya (Catalonia) and Pais Vasco (2 regions of Spain) want to declare independence from the Spain. A referendum for the independence of Catalunya will be held this November, after several protests from 2012. So that ideal of ‘unity’ is going well.

Facing the dreadful state of their country, it becomes easy to understand why the people demand a say. According to a poll published in El Mundo newspaper in January, 62 percent of respondents thought that the king should abdicate and 69.4 percent believed that the king was unable to revive the monarchy. Around 43 percent reported they were reluctant to support the Spanish monarchy, even if more than 56 percent said that Prince Felipe will be able to rehabilitate it.

The king to be creates the impression of  rallying the masses: Spaniards seems to agree that Prince Felipe is a hope, and that he is ready. Abolishing the monarchy is their main aim, but it’s possible that they might elect the Prince as the president of a third republic. But the government’s opinion on the matter is still blurry and it  hasn’t called a referendum yet.

Prince Felipe must face the consequences brought on by the royals’ actions and re-establish the Spanish people’s trust in them and in the government before allowing a referendum aiming to end the monarchy. Unfortunately, for now, the only negativity surrounds the Spanish monarchy while Prince Felipe tries to ascend the throne.


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