News / Europe

King of Spain to Abdicate for Son, Prince Felipe

  • Spain's King Juan Carlos smiles in one of his latest audiences at the Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid, May 27, 2014.
  • In this photo released by the Royal Palace, Spain's King Juan Carlos signs a document in the Zarzuela Palace opening the way for his abdication, June 2, 2014.
  • Spain's King Juan Carlos, his son Crown Prince Felipe and granddaughter Infanta Leonor pose at Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, July 26, 2012.
  • Spain's King Juan Carlos kisses the ring of Pope Benedict next to Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at Madrid's Barajas airport, August 18, 2011.
  • Spanish King Juan Carlos drinks wine out of a large traditional glass of Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate area during a visit in Deidesheim, Germany, July 17, 1997.
  • Spain's Princess Elena waves to the crowds as she is escorted by her father King Juan Carlos to the altar of Seville's cathedral on March 18, 1995.
  • King Juan Carlos of Spain is thrown into a swimming pool after winning the King's Cup Yacht Race in Palma de Mallorca, August 8, 1993.
  • Former Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco salutes beside his wife Carmen Polo, the then Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and his wife Princess Sofia as they listen to the national anthem during a ceremony at El Pardo Palace, Oct. 4, 1975.
Spain's King Juan Carlos
VOA News
Spain's King Juan Carlos said on Monday he would abdicate in favor of his more popular son Prince Felipe in an apparent bid to revive the scandal-hit monarchy at a time of economic hardship and growing discontent with the wider political elite.
 
“A new generation is quite rightly demanding to take the lead role,'' Juan Carlos, 76, said on television, hours after a surprise announcement from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that the monarch would step down after almost 40 years on the throne.
 
The 76-year-old king, who walks with a cane after multiple hip operations and struggled to speak clearly during an important speech earlier this year, is stepping down for personal reasons, Rajoy said.
 
But a source at the royal palace told Reuters the abdication was for political reasons. The source said the king decided in January to step down, but delayed the announcement until after the European Union election on May 25.

Political analysts said the ruling conservative People's Party was eager to put the more popular Felipe on the throne to try to combat increasingly anti-monarchist sentiment, after small leftist and anti-establishment parties did surprisingly well in the election.
 
The country is just pulling out of a difficult and long recession that has seen faith in politicians, the royal family and other institutions all dwindle.

Abdication, succession

It was not immediately clear when the abdication will take place, allowing Felipe's assumption of power.

Felipe, 46, has had an increasingly important role in ceremonial events in the past year.

Spain does not have a precise law regulating abdication and succession. Rajoy's cabinet was scheduled to have an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday to set out the steps for Prince Felipe to take over as Felipe VI. The transition will likely be accomplished by passing a law through parliament, where Rajoy's People's Party has an absolute majority.

The 76-year-old Juan Carlos oversaw his country's transition from dictatorship to democracy, coming into power in 1975, just two days after the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco. 

Far from being a mere ceremonial figurehead, Juan Carlos played a determining role in Spanish modern history when he stepped up as the first crowned head of state in 44 years after Franco's death.

He defied the hopes of the Francoists for an extension of autocratic rule. Instead, he oversaw the creation of a new system of parliamentary monarchy, with a new constitution that was approved by referendum in 1978.

Juan Carlos was credited with helping defuse an attempted coup in February 1981 by soldiers who stormed into parliament shooting and who held lawmakers hostage for several hours.

The king's appearance on television urging support for the democratic government was instrumental in blocking the attempt.
 
Family hurt by scandals

However, Juan Carlos' popularity has been deeply eroded by scandals swirling around him and his family.
 
He went on a luxury elephant safari to Botswana in the middle of Spain's financial crisis during which he broke his hip and had to be flown back to Spain for medical treatment aboard a private jet.

Further damaging the royal family's standing, a judge opened a corruption investigation in 2010 centered on former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, the husband of the king's youngest daughter, Cristina, who has also been accused of involvement, according to the French news agency AFP.

Both deny any wrongdoing.

A judge in Palma de Mallorca is expected to decide soon whether to put Urdangarin on trial on charges of embezzling 6 million euros in public funds through his charity.

At the same time, Felipe's approval rating has risen.

Sixty-two percent of Spaniards were in favor of the king stepping down, according to a January poll by Sigma Dos. That compared with 45 percent a year earlier. Only 41 percent of those polled had a good or very good opinion of the king.

Felipe has a positive rating of 66 percent and most  Spaniards believe the monarchy could recover its prestige if he took the throne, according to the poll.

Felipe wed former television presenter Letizia Ortiz, in a glittering ceremony in Madrid's Almudena Cathedral in 2004 after several previous romantic dalliances, including one with a Norwegian lingerie model.

They have two daughters.
 
Ortiz, a 41-year-old divorcee, was the first commoner to come in line for the Spanish throne.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.
 

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs