The King is dead!

It is this same spirit which has brought on calls for a referendum on the monarchy – and points to why Spanish Republicanism is not just about an individual family, or even an institution – but popular sovereignty. “Despite being against the monarchy, I am more against our leaders”, one young woman at the Madrid Republican demo told El País last night. It is true that Juan Carlos I is credited even by many on the Spanish left for helping shepherd the country to democracy after Franco died in 1975; he helped steer Spain away from an autocratic or military succession – ‘Francoism without Franco’ – in the late 1970s. But written out of this week’s blithe histories is the fact the Spanish 70s were a time of mass popular protest and increasingly brave strike action (beginning even before Franco’s death). In this sense, genuflecting to a royal because he had the decency – or perhaps, just the sense of realpolitik – to bow to the will of the people, seems to miss the point of the will of the people.

Dan Hancox in The King is dead! (Opendemocracy)