Over 20,000 people gathered inMadrid’s Puerta del Sol to protest earlier this week. :: J.R. LADRA
Just hours after it was revealed that King Juan Carlos was to abdicate, 20,000 people assembled in the centre of Madrid to protest against the monarchy and call for Spain to return to a republican system once more.
In 30 cities across Europe and Latin America, pro-republic supporters brandished the tricolor flag and marched through streets singing, “Mañana, España, será republicana” (tomorrow, Spain will be a republic).
In recent years, Madrid’s Puerta de Sol has been the centre of discontent for citizens protesting against corruption and cuts in the economy. This week, however, there was more of a party atmosphere as people celebrated the end of the King’s 39-year reign. Bottles of cava and cider were opened with people toasting the new era.
In cities such as Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Buenos Aires and London, Spaniards took to the streets. Meanwhile over 1,000 in Malaga and 100 in Marbella joined the peaceful protests to echo the calls for a republic. There were demonstrations in other Spanish cities including Alicante, Barcelona, Palma, Vitoria, Valladolid, Santander, Seville and Salamanca.
At a time of rising inequality and inherited wealth, many Spaniards have questioned the relevance of a monarchy. Members of anti-monarchy political parties, Izquierda Unida (United Left, IU) and Podemos, were present at the protests following their success in the recent European elections. Leader of IU, Cayo Lara, said: “It is inconceivable in the 21st century that we’re still talking about blood rights.”
The IU is putting all its weight behind a nationwide campaign to carry out a referendum on whether Spain should convert to a republic. On social networking sites over 307,000 supporters have signed a petition for the referendum to take place. “It is the moment for people to decide if they want a monarchy or a republic,” continued Lara.
The official line of the two main national parties, the PP and the PSOE, supports the continuation of the monarchy. When asked about the calls for a referendum on the future of the royal family, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said: “I think the monarchy has the support of the great majority in Spain.” The government has assured that unless the Constitution is changed there will be no change to the current system.
Lack of family support
The abdication will see Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia crowned King and Queen. However, the Princess’s aunt, Henar Ortiz, has expressed her discontent with the monarchy on her Twitter account. “Referendum now. It is time to let the people speak,” said Ortiz who has been active on social networks since the news was released.
She has retweeted messages and photos in support of the republican movement. “I am not against my niece; let’s not mix family with the model of the state,” she said.
Tomorrow evening, another large-scale protest will take place in the centre of Madrid as pro-republic supporters aim to push for a referendum.