King Juan Carlos of Spain spent most of the last 40 years on the Spanish throne. According to CNN, the king announced on Monday, however, that he will be stepping down;
“Time to hand over to a new generation — younger, with a lot of energy — that can, with determination, take on and carry out the changes that the current situation demands, and to face with intensity and determination the challenges of tomorrow” stated the monarch in a televised address.
The Inquisitr News tells us that Juan Carlos was named the head of state of Spain two days after the death of Francisco Franco on November 22, 1975.
At the time, Juan Carlos was the first Monarch to rule over Spain in 31 years; moving Spain into a post-Franco era. The king maintained the support of the older generation; namely those who lived through the Spanish Civil War and Franco era. However, he has been hard pressed to garner support among the younger generation, who have suffered from Spain’s stubborn and deep economic downturn.
King Juan Carlos acknowledged Spain’s economic problems as part of his statement to his Spanish subjects.
“The long, deep economic crisis we are going through has left a lot of scars socially, but it has also pointed toward a future of hope.”
The king’s son, 46 year old Crown Prince Felipe is set to succeed his father, Juan Carlos, to the throne, but the continuation of the monarchy is not without its opposition.
According to WSJ Online, thousands of protesters gathered Monday evening in a central Madrid plaza to demand a referendum on the future of the monarchy.
“It’s the moment to leave behind Francoism, the Civil War and return to the legitimate form of government, a republic,” stated Rubén Peinado González, a 24-year-old studying for a master’s in contemporary history.
“In reaction to the King’s announcement, the king is scoring a lot of points with Spanish youth who have been hit hard by six years of economic downturn and high unemployment and feel the country’s political institutions no longer respond to their needs” said Luis Rodríguez-Avello, a 33-year-old environmental engineering consultant in Madrid.
“If Felipe of Bourbon wants to be head of state, he should stand for election,” said Pablo Iglesias, the head of Podemos, a political upstart that obtained more than a million votes in the May 25 election. “Spaniards need to have the capacity to decide their future,” he said in an interview with Spanish television station Cuatro.
As the Spanish dialogue regarding the future of its Monarchy continues, the prevailing opinion is that the likelihood of a referendum remains low, due to the fact that the two largest parties remain committed in their support of the monarchy as an institution. Despite this fact, in many ways, King Juan Carlos’ abdication of the throne is an admission that it will take someone with more strength and vigor to bridge the divide between the monarchy, and the younger generation of Spaniards, who are in large part ready for change.