UPDATE: Spain’s King Juan Carlos has decided to abdicate after 39 years on the throne. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy made the announcement yesterday (Monday), with the King making a formal speech later in the day.
Rajoy addressed the nation to say that there would be an amendment to the country’s constitution to allow the Crown Prince to take over.
The new Crown Act, which will regulate the abdication and succession process, is expected to be pushed through law-making stages today.
King Juan Carlos, 76, has ruled since 1975. His son, Prince Felipe, 45, will take the throne.
In his official speech, King Juan Carlos said: “We have felt the need for renovation, and to open up a better future. Today a younger generation deserves to step forward”.
“I want the best for Spain, to which I have dedicated my whole life. I have decided to abdicate my crown to give way to a new generation embodied by my son Felipe, heir to the throne. I keep and will keep Spain forever deep in my heart”.
Throughout his reign, which followed in the wake of Franco’s dictatorship, Juan Carlos was considered one of the world’s most popular monarchs.
Along with Adolfo Suarez, Spain’s first Prime Minister following the dictatorship, the monarch helped to smooth the country’s transition to democracy.
However, recent years have seen a loss of confidence in Spain’s royal family due to a long-running corruption scandal involving the King’s daughter and son-in-law.
There has also been a growing discontent with the wider political elite – as revealed by the recent EU Parliament elections.
Following the news of the abdication, cities across Spain began organizing simultaneous pro-Republic demonstrations.
Reportedly, 1,500 riot police were deployed to central Madrid yesterday evening, in anticipation of city-wide unrest.
Leftist parties such as Podemos, United Left and Republican Catalan Left have called for the government to hold a referendum on the monarchy.