The Prince and Princess of Asturias with the King during the Armed Forces Day last weekend. :: EFE
The first step towards Prince Felipe being crowned King took place on Wednesday as Spain’s Congress voted to approve Juan Carlos’s abdication.
The bill was approved by 85 per cent of Congress members following a three-hour debate during which the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, leader of the opposition, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, and members of other parties expressed their opinions.
Members stated their decision one by one. Seconds before revealing their vote, members of radical Basque group Amaiur decided to leave the chamber in protest. The party’s spokesperson, Sabino Cuadra, had already expressed his refusal to participate “in this farce”.
The bill was passed thanks to support from the ruling Popular Party and opposition Socialists (PSOE) who make up 295 of the 350 members. Only one politician from the two parties, Odón Elorza of the PSOE, abstained.
PP and PSOE in favour
During the debate, both Rajoy and Rubalcaba stressed that the vote was not on whether to change the State, as was done in 1978, but to “ratify the will of the Head of State” because Spain is a “constitutional monarchy”.
“What we have been asked to do is comply with constitutional proceedings that oblige us to ratify the decision of the King,” said Prime Minister Rajoy. The leader of the PP went on to praise Juan Carlos and the monarchy as they are “the best symbol of State unity”.
Meanwhile, PSOE leader Rubalcaba showed his support for the future Felipe VI and called for “a new era” with constitutional reforms.
Members of Catalan national party CiU justified their abstention because Spain “has excluded Catalonia for a long time”. CiU Congress member, Josep Antoni Duran Lleida, stated his hope for “a new king who is sensitive to the demands of Catalonia”.
Leader of the United Left (IU), Cayo Lara, defended his party’s call for a referendum on whether Spain should go forward as a republic. He told members of the house that the monarchy is “anachronistic” and “radically unjust”.