Monday, June 02, 2014

After nearly 40 years on the throne, King Juan Carlos I of Spain will be stepping down, the country's prime minister said Monday.
Crown Prince Felipe, 46, will succeed his father, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced in nationally televised address.
Rajoy did not offer a reason for the king's planned abdication. The king is expected to issue a statement later Monday.
He's been a crucial man in a crucial period of the country's history, and no one can take that away from him. The question is whether that period was or not over.

I'm not a monarchist by principle, but a constitutional monarchy, as Spain's, doesn't bother me. Contrary to what some critics say, the fact that a head of state —basically a figurehead without constitutional powers— is unelected and inherited doesn't mean per se that the country is not a real democracy, because the democratic power lies on the executive cabinet. Take the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Sweden, Norway, and so forth.

And unlike most of those countries, he was actually voted in: even though he initially was appointed by Franco as his successor, he shook off that heritage and was appointed King by the new 1978 post-dictatorship constitution, which was overwhelmingly supported by the citizens in a referendum. Yes, he was a part of a whole package (people didn't just vote 'king or no king'), but you could argue that he has some kind of voting legitimacy, which is something that few constitutional monarchies can say.