Saturday, June 21, 2014
The Other Face of the Spanish Monarchy
On the Proclamation of Felipe VI as the new King of Spain: reading under the surface, the untold story behind the media coverage: along the parade route and in front of the royal palace, few people actually showed up. Even less than on a normal shopping day on the Gran Via, according to the newspaper Público.
Note also the strong military and security presence during the event. And the fact that among the titles of the king is that of head of the Spanish military - he is still Franco's heir after all.
The only thing significantly missing was a Mass, thank God.
Not only were pro-republic demonstrations prohibited, so was the display of republican flags and even badges and T-shirts. There were several arrests on these grounds.
Missing from the ceremony was Cristina, one of the new king's sisters, whose husband is on trial for corruption, and who may be up for indictment herself. Just to play it safe, both sisters have been removed from the webpage of the royal family and have lost their titles as Infantas. "Everything is perfectly normal," said through clenched teeth.
So the monarchy -and the political system it awkwardly supports- still gives an impression of vulnerability and insecurity, And reacts badly, with little tact, grace or generosity. Every day it looks less like a consensus and more like an imposition.
Together with the silencing of moves for Catalan and Basque independence. Lip-service to democracy, while the imperatives of state rule, with the cooperation of the mainstream press.
I heard live the ruling Catalan party's leader in Madrid, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, explain in Congress why they were abstaining from the vote for the abdication. He said that, unlike in the negotiations to create the post-Franco government 40 years ago, they had been shut out of the democratic process and silenced in their efforts to bring the democratic consensus up to date.
Meanwhile, as the conservative government of Madrid avidly looks for the bones of Cervantes in an old convent, the bones of thousands shot at roadsides and cemetery walls during the Civil War and buried in ditches remain unattended by the government of that same party, despite survivors' calls for justice, dignity, remembrance. Who can then yet speak of forgiveness or normalcy? It is a time for struggle and confrontation.
See my update: The Unsustainable Monarchy