Felipe VI stressed this Tuesday, at the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the coup attempt on 23-F, that the “firmness and authority” of King Juan Carlos I “were decisive for the defense and victory of democracy” that day . It was the first time that the head of state has expressly referred to the emeritus king since he left Spain last August amid the scandal over his accounts in tax havens. And he did so in a solemn act in the Hall of Lost Steps of the Congress of Deputies, in the presence of the highest authorities of the State.
“Faced with that unacceptable fracture of the legitimate and legal democratic order, King Juan Carlos I assumed as Head of State his responsibility and his commitment to take ‘all the necessary measures to maintain the constitutional order within the current legislation,” he added. , paraphrasing the televised message of the then Monarch, “which is already part of our collective memory.” Felipe VI, who was 13 years old at the time and was with his father that night, recalled that he was “a witness to that historical episode” and learned “the incalculable value that freedom has for the Spanish people.”
The King wanted to share the leading role of Juan Carlos I in the defeat of the coup attempt with the then Prime Minister, Adolfo Suárez, towards whom he has shown his “admiration and gratitude”, and has also referred to the “long list of men and women, civilians and military, that we all have in mind, who offered, together with the media, an example of courage and loyalty to the institutions of the State and to our Constitution ”. In addition to praising “the deep democratic conviction” of the parliamentarians and members of the Government kidnapped throughout the night from February 23 to 24, 1981, he stressed that “the institutional and citizen rejection of the breakdown of our framework of coexistence was decisive for stop and defeat that coup ”.
Felipe VI took the opportunity to reaffirm his commitment, “stronger and stronger than ever”, with the Constitution and express the “unequivocal will of the Crown to be an institution that includes, integrates and unites all Spaniards.” After underlining that “respect for the social and democratic State of Law […] it is a prerequisite and necessary for the coexistence and progress of our society ”, has called to defend, protect and preserve democracy and freedom. “We owe it to the Spanish people who, days after that night, made an exemplary defense” of the Constitution, he concluded, recalling the massive demonstrations against the coup throughout Spain.
The president of the Congress, Meritxell Batet, who has preceded him in the use of the word, has also alluded to “the determined reaction of the public institutions that, headed by His Majesty King Juan Carlos, assumed the defense of democracy before the threat of coup ”. His speech has focused, however, on the new dangers to democracy: “They are certainly not of lesser magnitude”, he valued. Batet has cited “the denaturing and instrumentalization of democratic institutions themselves”; “The growing political polarization and its transfer to citizens, with the social fractures it generates”; or “the populism of the easy answers or the presumed incontestable truths”. Without mentioning it, he alluded to the assault on the Capitol by Trump’s followers last January, noting that it has been possible to “see live around the world” that “even the most established democracies are not exempt from these risks.”
Juan Carlos I, an expatriate in Abu Dhabi for seven months, has been the great absentee from an event attended by the head of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and his four vice-presidents, including the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, as well as the President of the PP, Pablo Casado, the members of the Board and the spokesmen of Vox, Ciudadanos y Más País; among others. The representatives of United We Can have attended the event, but they did not applaud the King’s speech.
Those who had already announced their absence were the representatives of ERC, Junts, PdeCat, Bildu, BNG, the CUP and the PNV. At a press conference in Congress, the first six have read a manifesto in which they assure that 23-F was “a State operation that would save the regime of 78”, which they describe as a “lock” for advancement democratic; While the PNV spokesman, Aitor Esteban, has justified his absence by claiming that there are still many fog about what happened that day and the refusal to reform the Official Secrets Law prevents it from being known. Precisely, the plenary session of the Congress debates this Tuesday an ERC initiative in favor of withdrawing the immunity of Felipe VI and the aforementioned to his father and other members of the Royal Family.
The King has been received in the Carrera de San Jerónimo by Sánchez and Batet, in addition to the presidents of the Senate, Pilar Llop, of the Constitutional Court, Juan José González Rivas, and of the Supreme Court and the General Council of the Judiciary, Carlos Lesmes. Numerous people gathered at the Carrera de San Jerónimo applauded and cheered for him, to which the King responded by waving his hand. After entering the Lower House through the lion’s door, which is opened for solemn occasions, he went to the Clock Desk to meet the guests; among them, the two still-living fathers of the Constitution, Miquel Roca and Miguel Herrero and Rodríguez de Miñón.
After the act, the president of the Congress offered the King and other authorities an institutional lunch attended as representatives of the Government by President Sánchez and Vice President Carmen Calvo. Opposition leader Pablo Casado has also attended. On February 23, 2011, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the coup attempt, the then president of the Chamber, José Bono, organized a lunch in the Lower House which was attended by King Juan Carlos I and the political leaders of 1981, some of whom have since died, such as Santiago Carrillo or Manuel Fraga. Juan Carlos I then joked that Spain was “much better” than three decades ago and that he had slept very well that night, unlike the long morning of 23-F.