ARÍA EUGENIA ALONSO
Sunday, 25 December 2022, 08:41
Spain’s King Felipe VI took advantage of his traditional Christmas Eve speech, the ninth since he assumed the Head of State in 2014, to warn about the risks to which democracy is exposed due to division, the deterioration of coexistence and institutional erosion.
In the midst of an unprecedented squabble between the country’s government, legislative and judicial powers, the King urged everyone listening to his message on Saturday, 24 December, to "strengthen the institutions" so that they can carry out their duties of "protecting citizens, addressing their concerns, guaranteeing their rights as well as supporting them in overcoming many of their daily problems. He called for serenity and for all the powers of the State to redirect harmful behaviour for the proper functioning of the institutions so that they "respond to the general interest and exercise their functions with loyal collaboration, with respect for the Constitution and the laws.”
For the monarch, persevering in this strengthening must become a daily purpose with which the institutions, including the Crown, "must always be committed."
"I think that, at this time, we should all carry out an exercise of responsibility and reflect constructively on the consequences that ignoring these risks can have for our union, for our coexistence and our institutions," he said.
Last year, without the cost-of-living crisis being as serious as it is now, Felipe had already warned that "understanding and collaboration are necessary attitudes that dignify institutions." Now, with the embers still hot from the unprecedented decision of the Constitutional Court to suspend a vote in the Cortes Generales, the King appealed for “unity” because division, he reflected, “makes democracies more fragile; that union, to the contrary, strengthens them”. A union, he added, which is represented in the 1978 Constitution and whose values ensure "stability, cohesion and progress."
As he has been doing since the invasion of Ukraine began, on 24 February, Felipe VI unequivocally condemned Russia's actions that have caused "a level of destruction and ruin that is difficult to imagine in our daily reality." He also showed his empathy and admiration for the Ukrainian people of whom he said "we have experienced their suffering" and for whom "we continue to feel, with deep sadness, the loss of thousands of human lives."
In his Christmas message, the monarch also alluded to the Nato summit, which was held last June in Madrid, and which served to "reinforce the unity of all the members of the Alliance, and also of the European Union." A summit in which Spain once again reaffirmed its commitment that "the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States are inalienable principles of an International Order based on rules and that it must always seek peace."
Given the consequences of the war, such as the rise in energy and food prices, Felipe VI showed his consideration for families for whom "turning on the heating or filling the fuel tank" has become an "important sacrifice” in their economic budgeting. He recognised that, although the new scenario we are experiencing – with the Russian invasion, the economic and social situation, the instability and tensions in international relations – is causing “great concern and uncertainty” in society, “we cannot give up, things can change and improve. And he asked, for another year, the public powers to provide protection to the most vulnerable.
With this scenario, the King once again appealed to the ability of the Spaniards to overcome the challenges and difficulties they face, recalling the overcoming of other economic, social or institutional crises that they have experienced; the most recent, that of the coronavirus. “We are a country that, as now, has always known how to respond – not without difficulties or sacrifices – to all the adversities, which have not been few throughout these years,” he said.
Felipe also made reference to the rotating Presidency of the European Union that Spain will assume in the second half of 2023. "We are in Europe, but we also need Europe, which is our great political, economic and social frame of reference and, therefore , offers us certainty and security. I am sure that Spain's commitment - he said - will be reinforced with the rotating Presidency”.
Before ending his message, the monarch, who on this occasion did not make any reference to the judicial situation of his father Juan Carlos I, said that we must "look to the future with hope" and that each and every one of the Spanish people must "take care of our democracy, protect coexistence and strengthen our democracy.”
“We must continue to share objectives with a permanent spirit of renewal and adaptation to the times. With confidence in our country, in a Spain - he pointed out - that I know well, brave and open to the world: that seeks serenity, peace, tranquility”.
"The responsible, creative, vital and supportive Spain", insisted the King, "that I see, hear and feel in many of you"; and in which, he confided, "once again he will come out on top."
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