Queen Elizabeth's death underscores Spain's restored monarchy - Elcano Royal Institute (2023)

The death of Queen Elizabeth II this month, which sparked a massive wave of mourning in the UK and much pomp (10 days of ceremonial acts before the state funeral), resonated with Spain and restored its monarchy after the end.Franco's dictatorship in 1975, In the spotlight.

The monarchies of England (and later Great Britain) and Spain have existed since the 12th century.hey 13heXIX century, when King Alfonso VIII of Castile married Eleanor Plantagenet in 1170 and King Edward I of England in 1254 Eleanor of Castile. Both countries were founded in the 16th century.heXIX, when King Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon in 1509 (later annulled) and Maria Tudor (“Bloody Mary”) married Philip II in 1554. Alfonso XIII, great-grandfather of the current Spanish monarch, King Philip VI, married one of Queen Victoria's granddaughters, Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg ('Queen Ena' or Victoria Eugenie), in 1906. Queen Elizabeth was Queen Victoria's great-great-granddaughter, while Philip is the great-great-grandson of that queen who died in 1901. He affectionately addressed Queen Elizabeth as "Aunt Lilibet".

King Juan Carlos I, thirdrdCousin of Queen Elizabeth, who abdicated in 2014 in favor of her son Philip, and Queen Sofia paid a state visit to Britain in 1986, followed by a similar visit to Spain by Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1988. The abdication and the future of the Spanish monarchy worried Queen Isabella, who believed that being a monarch was a lifelong job, as her case turned out to be.

He considered the reign of Juan Carlos as living proof of the extremely positive contribution that the monarchy could make to the political development and international projection of a nation.When King Felipe was presented with the opportunityand Queen Letizia on a state visit to the UK in 2017, a year after the turmoil sparked by the June 2016 Brexit vote and the uncertainty that gripped Spain after the December 2015 general election, which they did not give conclusive results, in which there was a rebound. However, Queen Elizabeth urged people to vote for the far-left Podemos, an openly anti-monarchist party.

Like Great Britain, the monarchy in Spain has a long history. It has its roots in the Visigothic kingdom of the 5th century.heuntil the 8thheCenturies ago, and its Christian successors, the states of Navarra, Asturias (later León and Castilla) and Aragón, which fought to reconquer the Iberian Peninsula after the expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate when an army of North African Berbers landed on the current Gibraltar. at 711.

The first steps towards a unified, if loosely articulated, Spain were taken following the marriage in 1469 between Queen Isabella I of Castile (1474-1504) and King Ferdinand II of Aragon (1479-1516). Both Great Britain, which It comprises four countries, as well as Spain (17 autonomous communities) originally arising from a union of kingdoms made possible by the monarchy as an anchor. The monarchs of Spain from Ferdinand and Isabella are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Spanish kings since 1516

Habsburg HouseHouse of Bourbon (restored)
Charles V. (1516-56)Ferdinand VII (second time; 1814-33)
Felipe II. (1556-98)Isabella II. (1833-68)
Felipe III. (1598-1621)Interregnum (1868-70)
Felipe IV. (1621-65)house of savoy
Charles II. (1665-1700)Amadeo (1870-73)
Bourbon House1calleRepublic (1873-74)
Philip V (first time; 1700-24)House of Bourbon (restored)
Louis I. (1724)Alfonso XII (1874-85)
Felipe V (second time; 1724-46)Alfonso XIII. (1886-1931)
Fernando VI. (1746-59)2North DakotaRepublic (1931-39)
Charles III. (1759-1788)Franco's dictatorship (1939-75)
Charles IV. (1788-1808)House of Bourbon (restored)
Ferdinand VII (first time; 1808)Juan Carlos I. (1975-2014)
Bonaparte HouseFelipe VI (2014-)
Joseph I. (1808-13)

Spaniards were stunned by the scale and depth of grief over the death of Queen Elizabeth, the world's longest-reigning monarch and bipartisan head of state for 70 years, many of whose events were widely covered by television channels. Spaniards (the BBC gave a ceiling). reports) and in print media. The queue in London to attend the Queen's funeral stretched 8 kilometers, with people waiting for up to 12 hours.

The vast majority of the British population has never known another head of state and felt orphaned at the loss of a permanent presence. writing onfinancial timesSaid historian Simon Schama, Queen Elizabeth "embodied the reassuring continuity of British history in her personal longevity. The underlying myth of the monarchy is that while kings and queens are mortal, the institution is not.

Two of Spain's 17 regions, Madrid and Andalusia, both controlled by the conservative Popular Party (PP), Spain's most monarchist party, along with the far-right VOX, declared periods of mourning. The Union Jack was projected at the Madrid City Hall.

The moves have caused uproar in some quarters and questions about whether King Juan Carlos, 84, who has gone into self-exile in Abu Dhabi since August 2020 after prosecutors began investigating his financial and business affairs, received the same treatment. he will hand himself over to London when he dies.

The investigations, including the nature of the 65 million euros that the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had transferred to a Swiss bank account to which Juan Carlos had access, have been abandoned due to lack of evidence, prescription and the constitutional immunity of the monarch during his tenure. .

The death of Queen Elizabeth comes at a time of great uncertainty in the United Kingdom, caused, among other things, by Brexit, the negative consequences of which are being felt painfully and the positive ones have not yet materialized, if at all. materialized; the renewed threat of Scotland's secession from the United Kingdom, which would deal a severe blow to the monarchy (the queen died in her favorite residence, Balmoral in Scotland), and the arrival of Liz Truss, fourth consecutive Tory prime minister, warring party with himself, six years from now with a slot from hell full of problems to solve.

also spaingoing through uncertain times, and not only economic problems. It has its “Scotland” in the form of Catalonia, which illegally declared its independence in 2017. Some 150,000 Catalan separatists demonstrated in Barcelona on September 11, Catalonia National Day, to keep up the waning momentum of secession. The Scottish government is pushing for another referendum on independence in 2023 (55.3% against and 44.7% in favor in a London-sanctioned referendum in 2014).while the Generalitat wants the central government to authorize a referendum(currently unconstitutional).

Both Spain and the United Kingdom had republics - but in the latter case only in England between 1649 and 1660 in a period known as the interregnum, after the execution of Charles I and the proclamation of the Commonwealth of England - and have republicans today . Spain had two republics, one of very short duration between 1873 and 1874 and another from 1931 when Alfonso XIII. He went into exile without relinquishing the crown until 1939, during which the country experienced a devastating three-year civil war with General Franco victorious, installing a dictatorship.

According to polls, support for a republic is around 25% in the United Kingdom and it is difficult to assess in Spain. The Socialist Party (PSOE), founded in 1879, is historically pro-republican, but like Queen Elizabeth managed to bring most of Britain's Labor Party to the monarchy under the governments of Harold Wilson (1964-70 and 1974-76). This is how King Juan Carlos I sided with him the majority of the Socialists during the 13-year reign of Felipe González. Only when the socialists came to power did he supposedly see himself as a solid monarch.

In 2015, a year after King Juan Carlos abdicated amid unpopularity for, among other things, going elephant hunting in Botswana at the height of the Spanish recession, the state-funded CIS stopped measuring confidence in the monarchy in their periodic surveys. In the latest CIS surveys of this type between September 2011 and April 2015, the institution scored less than 5 out of 10. However, in the latest survey (June 2022), only 0.3% of the respondents see the monarchy as one of their main problems: around 29hein the list of the 49 main problems facing citizens (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. What do you think are the main problems in Spain? (%)

1. Economic Crisis22.5
2. Unemployment16.6
3. Political problems in general11.3
4. The government and certain parties and politicians8.8
5. The poor performance of politicians6.7
6. Corruption and Fraud2.8
7. Problems related to the quality of employment2.7
8. Health2.5
9. What do political parties do?2.3
10. Lack of agreement, unity and ability to cooperate. Political situation and instability1.6

Private polls since Felipe became king in 2014, like those by Metroscopia, show growing support for the monarchy, reflecting its successful efforts to improve the institution's damaged image and level of transparency.

Britain's National Center for Social Research (NCSR) has regularly asked for the last 30 years how important or not it is for Britain to have a monarchy. King Carlos III has inherited the crown at a time when support for the institution is at a new low: 55% said it was "very" or "quite" important, according to the latest NCSR survey (2021), compared to 68% in 2018

Although the monarchy is not an issue, the far-left United We Can, the junior partner in the Socialist-led minority government, calls for a republic. He exploits the fact that Franco restored the monarchy (he named Juan Carlos as his successor in 1969), which he sees as damaging its legitimacy and preventing a complete break with the dictatorship.

From today's perspective, gaps can be drawn in the transition process, particularly by those who did not witness it and therefore do not really understand the delicate post-Franco dynamics of the transition to democracy, which did not it occurred naturally. Even the Spanish Communist Party (PCE), long at the forefront of the opposition to the Franco regime, realized that an abrupt break rather than a negotiated one would have provoked the military and triggered a conflict, the last thing they wanted. The majority of Spaniards. Had it not been for King Juan Carlos, as the president of the PCE, Santiago Carrillo, said, "the shooting would have already started." Spain's democratic constitution of 1978, which includes the monarchy as a form of government, was approved by 92% of voters with a turnout of 67%.

While King Juan Carlos presided over a Spain that prospered democratically, economically and internationally during his 39-year reign, Queen Elizabeth ruled through the dissolution of the British Empire and the decline of Britain's global influence. It will never be seen whether the undeniable success of Spain would also have been achieved in the hypothetical case of a republic.

The failure of King Juan Carlos, who has caused significant damage to the monarchy, belongs to an individual and not to an institution. In a country so politically polarized and with a turbulent history, the current monarchy has served Spain well by staying above the fray and not identifying with a political party that would be an elected head of state. The institution has governed the longest period of stable democracy in the country.

Monarchies are accused of being anachronistic and undemocratic institutions in modern times. Nonetheless, countries with parliamentary monarchies top major democracy rankings like the EIU's and have high living standards. The latest UN Human Development Index, published this month, places Spain ahead of France and Italy (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. UN Human Development Index for selected monarchies

Classification (1)Human Development Index Score 2021 (2)Life expectancy at birth 2021 (years)Average school years (2021)GNI per capita (2017 PPA US$) 2021
2. Norway0,96183.213.064.660
6. Denmark0,94881.413.060.365
7. Sweden0,94783,012.654.489
13. Belgium0,93781,912.452.293
15. Canada0,93682.713.846.808
18. Great Britain0,92980.712.345.225
27. Spain0,90583,09.638.354
28. France0,90382.510.645.937
30. Italia0,89582,910.742.840

Replacing the Spanish monarchy with a republic would mean a constitutional reform that is unattainable in the polarized climate and parliamentary arithmetic. A referendum on this issue would be an unnecessary leap into the void, like the Britishdiscovered with Brexit.

The belief that the fundamental problems of Spain,like persistently high unemployment, an inadequate educational system, colonizing institutions of political parties and a non-functioning governing body of the judiciary (CGPJ) that has operated on a temporary basis since its term expired in 2018 because the two main parties failed to agree on their new members can be resolved with a change in the form of government is an illusion.

Image: Westminster Abbey and Big Ben at night. Photo:Surangaw.

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