He will be in the national spotlight on Monday as he meets the leaders of the political groups represented in Spain’s parliament before deciding who to appoint as the next prime minister.
The task may seem simple, but after last month’s inconclusive elections, none of the party leaders secured the simple majority needed to form a government. This meant that the king had to choose between two main candidates.
Conservative leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo argues that because his People’s Party (PP) won the most votes, it needs the king’s approval to form a government. But the PP has failed to secure the number of parliamentary seats needed to form a government, and even with the support of the far-right Vox party, Feijóo cannot overcome opposition from a majority of Spain’s MPs.
Alberto Nunez Feijoo
Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez appears to be in the best position to stay in office, but it is also unclear whether he has the necessary votes to do so. His left-wing allies control only 171 of the 350 seats in parliament, meaning he needs to get many representatives from the Catalan separatist Junds party to vote for him to form a government.
The Jundt, controlled by former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, conditioned its support for Sanchez on an amnesty for all involved in the failed 2017 Catalan independence referendum and Madrid’s agreement to hold a new referendum on self-determination. Socialists say both demands are out of the question because they violate the Spanish constitution, but separatists refuse to budge.
Agustin Ruiz Robledo, professor of constitutional law at the University of Granada, said the whole situation puts Philip VI in a difficult position.
“The king’s task is to identify the candidate who can win the necessary number of votes to win the bid to form a government,” says Robledo. “If Sanchez can prove he got the support he needs, he’s the obvious choice, but what if he can’t prove he blocked those votes?” As such, it would be logical to ask Raja Feiju to form the government, even if that prospect fails, as he now has a very solid support.
Robledo says asking Feiju to form a government first may ultimately favor Sanchez. This would give Sánchez more time to negotiate with Catalan separatists before submitting his own candidacy for prime minister after Feijoo was rejected by parliament.
Ana Romero, a veteran Spanish journalist who has covered the royal court for decades, says whatever the king decides will face fierce criticism. “If he chooses Feijoo, the left will accuse him of sympathizing with the conservatives and wasting parliament’s effort on a nomination that never happened,” says Romero. “On the other hand, if he directly proposed Sánchez, the right would accuse him of being spineless and leading leftists and separatists who want to destroy the country… Whatever he does, he will be condemned.
Romero, who ascended the throne in 2014 after his father Juan Carlos I suddenly abdicated. Faced with allegations of personal and financial irregularities, he was cursed to rule in the shadow of political instability.
“Over the past decade, Spain has transitioned from a two-party system to a more mature, but much weaker, parliamentary monarchy,” Romero said. — This becomes clear when you consider that Juan Carlos I only made 10 such consultations to form a government during his 38 years on the throne, and that Philip VI has had to do nine of them since 2014.
Unlike his father, Felipe VI came under external pressure from conservative and far-right groups who sought to align the Spanish monarchy with their ultranationalist ideals.
Both Santiago Abascal, head of the far-right Vox, and Isabel Díaz Ayuzo, populist leader of the People’s Party in the Madrid region, frequently refer to the king in their speeches and claim the monarchy’s integrity. Sánchez’s leftist coalition government. In columns of right-wing newspapers, conservative figures such as socialist Carmen Lomana called for a “veto” of Sánchez, “denying him the ability to form a government that depends on supporting a fugitive like Puigdemont… ETA terrorists… whose only reason is to destroy Spain and its constitution.”
Prof. He believes that this pressure undoubtedly irritated the royal court, which was determined to be beyond division: “The kings of Spain were of the Bourbon dynasty, who often overstepped their part and illegally interfered in democratic affairs. But the last person to engage in such acts was the current king’s grandfather, Alfonso XIII, who was a Supported a military dictatorship and lost his throne in 1931 as a result of Spain becoming a republic.
“Philip VI will play it safe and stay neutral,” concludes Robledo. “Things usually go wrong for Spanish monarchs who play politics.
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