Spain: Left and pro-sovereignty forces demand republic referendum

June 2, 2014
Protest in Madrid for a vote on a republic, June 2.

Willy Meyer, who was elected to European parliament in the May poll as lead candidate for United Left (IU), has demanded a binding referendum to allow the people of Spain to choose between the current model of a parliamentary monarchy or a republic. The call came after the June 2 announcement of Spain's King Juan Carlos that he would abdicate in favour of his son, Felipe.

For his part, Pablo Iglesias, leader of the citizen’s movement Podemos that won five seats in the European parliament, has joined the call for a binding popular consultation: “The people of Spain have the right to decide our future; that is why we want to vote.”

In statements made during an interview with Las Mananas Cuatro from Brussels, where he is picking up his credentials for the European parliament, Iglesias also called on the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) to join the popular republican call: “The PSOE has a unique opportunity to demonstrate that it is not the same as the [governing Popular Party].”

He added, however, “the elites are scared of a vote”.

“This is a problem between oligarchy and democracy. The people of Spain are capable of deciding for themselves. The people of Spain are mature and have had enough of being treated like children.”

After the abdication of the king, Podemos sent a statement to its Circles [grassroots organising bodies] and voters that said: “In democracy, the people decide. We are not subjects, we are citizens.”

They emphasised: “There is no excuse for why the citizens should not be able to decide what kind of state they want to live in.”

Meyer spoke to EFE on hearing Popular Party (PP) Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s announcement that the king handing over the reins to Prince Felipe.

“21st century democracy demands that a binding referendum be called so that all the people can decide if they want a republic or monarchy,” emphasised Meyer.

According to the IU representative, the recent European elections demonstrated the “crisis” and “shipwreck” of the bipartisan system, of the two parties -- PP and PSOE -- that, in his opinion, support the monarchy. He said was why it makes even more sense to call a referendum.

'Citizen’s republic'

For its part, the [Green party] EQUO said that, after the king’s abdication, it was time to give a voice to the citizens and allow them to decide on the model of state they want.

According to this party, the resignation should not give way to a simple succession, but rather the initiation of a constituent process. This should include a referendum allowing people to decide between a monarchy and republic.

Juan Lopez de Uralde, co-spokesperson for the party, said: “It would be a grave error to continue to act as if nothing has happened. The abdication of the King has shaken the foundations of a model that no longer represents us.

“It is unbelievable that in a 21st century democracy, the head of state continues to depend on hereditary factors and not the will of the citizens. We urgently need deep changes.”

Regarding the future model of the state, EQUO co-spokesperson Carolina Lopez said it supported a “citizen’s, sustainable, secular republic that protects those rights which have been trodden on over these last few years.”

Catalan parties

Meanwhile, in Catalonia, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) (which won the highest vote in Catalonia for the European elections), Initiative for Catalonia Greens-United and Alternative Left (ICV-EUiA), Popular Unity Candidates (CUP) and Constituent Process have supported the demand for a popular consultation to bring about a republic and called a rally for this afternoon in all major cities and towns.

ICV spokesperson Dolors Camats has asked that the abdication of King Juan Carlos not be resolved by replacing him with Prince Felipe, instead a referendum must be called to consult citizens on the model of state they want: “There’s no point changing one king for another.”

In a joint press conference with Joan Josep Nuet from EUiA, he said that “just as the Catalans have asked for a referendum to decide their future, it is necessary to consult the citizens over the kind of state they want”. Tthe abdication was an opportunity to change the current model, he said.

Camats also called on Catalans to hang Catalan and republican flags from their balconies, as well as taking in the mobilisations called for many places across Catalonia.

For its part, the Constituent Process, led by Arcadi Oliveres and Teresa Forcades’, released a statement titled “Nor Juan Carlos or Felipe! A Catalan Republic of the 99%! Democratic Constituent Process Now!” in which it said that “all the principal institutions of the state were being questioned: the crown, the judicial power and the bipartisan system”.

“The recent elections on May 25 demonstrated the deep level of citizen’s dissatisfaction towards the current political system.”

Similarly, the national spokesperson of the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG), Xavier Vence, demanded the opening up of a “constituent process” and stated his support for a republican model that “puts an end to the legacy of Franquismo” -- a reference to the Franco dictatorship that, Vence pointe out, was named Juan Carlos as the dictator's successor.

Vence said the decision to abdicate was simply a “cosmetic change” in light of the “crisis” facing the institution.

“The current social crisis requires much deeper and much broader change than a simple facelift”, Vence said, adding that citizens “demand a truly democratic transition”.

[This article was translated by Federico Fuentes from]

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