The king once again successfully carried out his role as head of state in his Christmas message. In his previous public interventions in October, it fell to King Felipe VI to firmly defend the Spanish Constitution and the rules of coexistence; on this occasion, however, King Felipe adopted a conciliatory and positive tone, without forgetting to emphasize the value of everything democratic Spain has built in the last 40 years and the need to preserve this. He also opened the door to updating this common framework (his message can be understood as an implicit message regarding constitutional reform), “on the solid base of democratic principles and [on] the civic values of respect and dialogue which form the foundation of our coexistence.”
King Felipe‘s message can be understood as an implicit message regarding constitutional reform
King Felipe has had to face up to serious political problems in our country in 2016 and 2017. First there was the difficulty of forming government in Spain and then came the very serious crisis in Catalonia. In both cases, the monarch acted calmly without overstepping the limits marked by the Constitution although he has needed to intervene with firmness when appropriate. This is especially true in relation to the Catalan question, when he was conscious of the fact his solemn speech would cause problems among a part of the population. The king has emerged stronger from both crises.
In his Christmas message, King Felipe wanted to begin by emphasizing the value of the rule of law constructed over the last 40 years. He highlighted the establishment of democracy, integration into the European Union, the defeat of terrorism and the profound transformation of Spanish society. From that point on, his intervention opened the door on various occasions to the updating of the framework of coexistence through dialogue and respect. Nearing the end of his message, the king stressed this reformist proposal: “I am sure that no one desires a Spain which is paralyzed and conformist, rather [what is desired] is a modern and attractive [Spain] which excites: a calm Spain, but in movement and willing to change and adapt to the new times.” This is a brave message although it remains within the usual prudent limits so as not to overstep the boundaries marked by a Constitution that has brought about the period of greatest liberty and prosperity in our country, but which must be reformed as soon as possible, as EL PAÍS has been arguing.
I am sure that no one desires a Spain which is paralyzed and conformist King Felipe VI of Spain
In terms of Catalonia, King Felipe highlighted the value of the December 21 election and added that the new Catalan parliament must face up to the problems that affect all Catalans while “respecting plurality and thinking responsibility about the common good.” He insisted on the renunciation of confrontation and exclusion “which only generates discord, uncertainty, dejection, and moral, civic and economic impoverishment.” He also emphasized the most positive values of Catalonia.
Lastly, King Felipe sent a clear message that the Catalan question is not the only challenge facing Spaniards. He correctly listed the concerns that shape our future: the economy and unemployment, jihadist terrorism, Spain’s declining role in Europe, defense of the environment and gender violence. This was further proof that his mission is to be a useful monarch who is close to all Spaniards.
English version by George Mills.