By Jack Wright
Last Saturday, 7 June 2014, small left-wing parties and citizens organizations led rallies across Spain urging a referendum which will allow the people to decide whether to go on with the current parliamentary monarchy or change over to a republican system.
The rallies were an offshoot of King Juan Carlos of Spain’s abdication in favor of his son, Crown Prince Felipe de Borbón y Grecia, last 2 June. Taking advantage of the opportunity to press for change that the abdication has presented, tens of thousands joined the demonstrations.
The biggest turn-out was in Madrid. In Pamplona, the historical capital of the old Kingdom of Navarre (remember also the running of the bulls?), the local police estimated the number of demonstrators at around 4,000; in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the autonomous region of Galicia in northwestern Spain, some 1,000; in Oviedo, the capital of the Principality of Asturias in northern Spain, 2500; some 700 in Barcelona . . .
In an opinion poll conducted for the national daily El País from 4 to 5 June, 62% said the referendum should be held “at some point,” while 34% don’t see why it should take place at all. Moreover, nearly 50% of the respondents would rather go on with the monarchy, with the Crown Prince as king.
As one monarchist said, he would rather have Felipe from the Borbon dynasty for head of state than an elected president of the republic.
Those who favor a republic are quite clearly in the minority – 36%.
To a certain extent, this should explain the disappointing turn-out at the pro-referendum rallies despite all the waving of the red-gold-and-lavender republican flags and the fiery histrionics.
It all seems to boil down to the Spanish people, especially the present generation, wanting to choose the kind of political system they would want for themselves.
Which fact makes one wonder why the central government won’t even consider the possibility of holding such a referendum when, clearly, the status quo is bound to prevail – that is, the continuity of the monarchy. Even among the voters of the major center-left socialist party, PSOE, who are known for their republican leanings (but not the party leaders who have committed the party to a yes-vote at the 19 June joint session of the parliament for the enthronement of the Crown Prince), there is a slight majority in favor of making don Felipe king.
So Viva el Rey, the abdicant and the one who’ll soon be crowned!
Topmost photo: Crown Prince Felipe and wife Doña Letizia during the awarding ceremony of the Premios Principe de Asturias in 2012
Photo of the Referendum rally is from the Twitter account of blogger Ekaitz Cancela