Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Madrid on Saturday to demand a referendum to abolish Spain’s monarchy, just days after King Juan Carlos abdicated in favor of his son.
“Spain, tomorrow, will be republican,” they chanted, waving the red, purple and gold flags of the country’s second republic, proclaimed in 1931 then overthrown eight years later by Gen. Francisco Franco at the end of the country’s catastrophic civil war.
It was only a few hours after the 76-year-old king announced his abdication on June 2 that a wave of republicanism spread across the country.
On Saturday, dozens of left-wing political parties and citizens organizations came together to demand “a referendum now” on the future of the monarchy.
Forty-six-year-old Crown Prince Felipe is due to have his coronation, probably on June 19, in a joint session of parliament – whose members, both in the ruling party and in opposition, overwhelmingly support the monarchy.
But scandals over the past three years have caused a dramatic drop in the monarchy’s popularity, which has also been hit by the general loss of faith in Spain’s institutions that has accompanied its economic crisis.
Those feelings were evident in the results of the May 25 European Parliament elections, which saw a collapse in support for the two traditional parties.
Among the insurgent new left-wing parties was Podemos, a new party that emerged from the “Indignants” protest movement of 2011 and coincided with social discontent after 2008’s financial crisis.
“We want to give a voice to the people. Why is it a problem to organize a referendum? Why is it a problem to give Spaniards the right to decide their future?” asked one of the party’s leaders, Pablo Iglesias.
“If the People’s Party and Socialist Party think that Felipe has the confidence of the citizens, he should submit to a referendum,” Iglesias said.
The republican wave has mostly engulfed the young, who were not around when Juan Carlos took the thronein 1975. It was two days after Franco’s death and the young king oversaw a dramatic period of transition to democracy.
In announcing his abdication, Juan Carlos said he hoped for a “renewal” of the monarchy.
Crowned in November 1975 after the death of Franco, Juan Carlos won wide respect for his role in building modern Spain… see more
source: America Al jazeera