Following the news that Spain’s King Juan Carlos will abdicate the throne the country has seen waves of protests from anti-royalist demonstrators. The protesters are calling for Spain to become a republic after 39 years of King Juan Carlos being on the throne.
Many feel that now is the time for the Government to promise a referendum on the abolishment of the Spanish monarchy.
King Juan Carlos, 76, is stepping aside so that his son Prince Felipe, 46, can take over the role. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that the Spanish Constitution is being amended to allow for the abdication.
Over 20,000 demonstrators rallied in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square. In Catalonia capital Barcelona, thousands gathered in Plaza Catalunya to lend their support to anti-royalist sentiment.
The region of Catalonia, which has been pushing for a referendum on independence from Spain, may use the opportunity to put pressure on the central government in Madrid to reconsider its stance.
Petitions began to circulate in the wake of the abdication news, collecting thousands of pro-republic signatures and take advantage of what is being called an ideal and historic opportunity to reform the country.
Juan Carlos previously enjoyed country-wide popularity. The King was widely respected for smoothing Spain’s transition to democracy after the death of dictator General Franco in 1975.
Over recent years though, the royal family has been plagued by a long-running corruption scandal involving the King’s daughter and son-in-law and its popularity has suffered in the wake of the economic crisis.