King Felipe VI presided his first public event of the year on Wednesday, the traditional Pascua Militar parade, which has been held each January 6 since the late 18th century.
It was the second Pascua Militar Felipe has overseen following his accession to the throne in June 2014, and it was also the first ever to be held under an acting government.
On December 20, Spain held an inconclusive general election that failed to yield a strong majority for any party, leading to gridlock in negotiations over who will become the next prime minister. The northeastern region of Catalonia is also almost certainly facing new regional elections after similar disagreements failed to produce a new premier there.
However, Felipe made no mention of Spain’s political uncertainty to his crowd of listeners, most of whom were members of the military.
Instead, his speech focused on the challenges that lie up ahead for the armed forces, most notably the terrorist threat.
Those who attack our rights and freedoms must encounter a brave, united and firm response in defense of our own model of coexistence” King Felipe VI
“We have been through tough times, some of them with tragic outcomes, such as the violence – the brutal onslaught – of terrorism, which has brought death to so many cities, streets and squares across the world, and that has cruelly hit countries that are our friends, where citizens and fellow Spaniards have lost their lives,” he said, alluding to attacks in Paris, Kabul, Tunisia and Beirut.
“We should not become discouraged in the face of these assaults,” the king continued. “On the contrary, those who attack our rights and freedoms must encounter a brave, united and firm response in defense of our own model of coexistence [...] Guaranteeing the rights and civil liberties of our citizens is a requirement and a responsibility that falls to our rule of law.”
Defense Minister Pedro Morenés also talked about terrorism as the main threat to security in Spain in his address.
“Now is the time to stand firm in a unanimous response, a shared defense and a coordinated action with our friends and allies, against this and any other threats that might affect us,” he said.
The monarch’s first speech of the year was part of a ceremony that began on January 6, 1782, when Carlos III congratulated the Spanish troops for reconquering Menorca from the British.
Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz were also present at the ceremony.
English version by Susana Urra.