King Felipe VI of Spain has been accused of manoeuvring against his country’s government by one of its ministers. Another has joined attacks questioning the Spanish king’s political neutrality. The claims came after Felipe intervened in a controversy that has dominated Spanish politics for days.
The Minister for Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzon, made the attack in a tweet. It read ”the position of a hereditary monarchy that manoeuvres against the democratically elected government, breaching in this way the Constitution which guarantees its neutrality, while being applauded by the far right, is simply unsustainable.”
His remarks came after Felipe VI spoke out about a row involving a cancelled public engagement. The King of Spain was set to attend the accreditation of new judges in Barcelona on September 25th but just days before the event, it was announced Felipe would no longer be present. The last minute change of plan led to widespread comments that the government had stopped the monarch attending. On the day of the ceremony itself, Felipe VI called the President of the General Council of Judicial Power to say he had wanted to take part but couldn’t. This has been taken as proof that it was government ministers who stopped the monarch carrying out this traditional act.
In the hours after the phone call was made public by the Council’s president, several ministers have gone on to speak out against King Felipe VI. As well as Alberto Garzon, there were strong words from Pablo Iglesias, second Vice President of the Spanish Government. He said that ”institutional respect means neutrality from the State leadership”. And in a tweet the leader of Unidas Podemos quoted the part of Spain’s constitution which says ‘sovereignty rests with the Spanish people” with ”all power coming from them”. His party is openly anti monarchy and in recent days, Pablo Iglesias has spoken of his continuing determination to work towards Spain becoming a republic.
The Spanish government has itself gone through a turbulent few days with rows growing over new coronavirus restrictions in parts of Madrid. This latest row over the monarchy comes after a summer which saw Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, describe allegations of financial irregularity against past monarch, Juan Carlos I, as ”disturbing” before the former king announced he was going into self imposed exile, triggering more controversy.
Felipe VI became King of Spain on June 19th 2014 on the abdication of Juan Carlos I. The powers of the Spanish Monarchy are symbolic and the country’s royals are expected to remain politically neutral.