The Republic We Want: Spanish Republicanism and the Crown

2012 Demonstration against Labour Reform
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Source: WikiCommons)

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.” — Ursula K. Le Guin

King Felipe VI of Spain is here in Galicia. I normally don’t keep up with his movements, I only saw he was in the area when Xuventude Comunista, the Galician youth wing of the Communist Party of Spain tweeted some photos of their protest against him speaking at the University of A Coruña. Patricia’s grandmother also told me that he will stop in O Grove for the Atlantic Forum and to make an appearance at the Festa do Marisco. I’ve only read about it around the edges, but it sounds like a Davos forum for Spanish business and political élites.

To have a king in the 21st century. I assume some hardly think about it. But others, regionalists, younger generations, leftists, imbue the situation with deserved thought, criticism, and nuance. These people are repúblicanos, and advocate for a Third Spanish Republic. Not a party (like in the United States), much less a coherent voting block, Spanish republicans see an unfinished project in la transición, the transition from a fascist one-party state to a constitutional monarchy, and must deal with the consequences of political instability in the historically two-party system and growing fascism on the right with Vox.

While there still exists an aristocracy in America, like most countries with similar situations of income inequality, our history of tolerating monarchism ended with the loyalist refugees fleeing to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick after the Revolutionary War.

Spain’s trajectory with monarchism is different, of course. Today, the Crown enjoys support from around half the country, depending on poll numbers. Many older Spaniards I’ve talked with tell me Juan Carlos I did what he could with what he had at the time.

In 2007, only 22% favored a republic and in 2008 just 16% (7% claimed they were Juancarlistas, supporters of the king without a preference on the fate of the monarchy after him) But since the 2008 financial crisis, the string of royal scandals (including the Felipe VI’s brother-in-law, African hunting photos, infidelity, etc.), repúblicanismo is rising in Spain. And many are dreaming of a Third Spanish Republic.

El Confidencial had a recent poll in June of this year regarding preferences for a republic or monarchy. 46.1% of Spaniards now prefer a republic (with 50.8% for a continued monarchy, and 3.1% undecided).

I chose some of El Confidencial’s datapoints, both strongest preference per system including one in the middle, and added them here:

Republic Monarchy
Age
18-24 70.4% 26.1%
25-34 54.8% 44.6%
34-44 52.3% 44.5%
55-64 35.7% 61.4%
Voted Party (April)
Partido Popular 7.8% 90.7%
PSOE 51.6% 44.5%
Unidas Podemos 86.0% 9.3%
Community
Andalusia 23.5% 75.1%
Galicia 51.6% 45.6%
Catalonia 74.0% 21.6%

A majority of those polled who were born after 1975, the year Franco finally died (I’m not sorry, good riddance) prefer a republic, but stronger amongst the youth. It’s not surprising when broken down by party. The troika of right-wing parties, Partido Popular, Ciudadanos, and Vox all favor a monarchy by at least 82%. What’s interesting to me is the historical nationalities of Galicians, Catalans, and Basques being more inclined for a republican system, arguably giving more decentralized power to the autonomous communities, while the rest of Spain, specifically Andalusians interested in retaining the monarchy.

My question really is this; will we see a Third Spanish Republic in the next twenty or thirty years? And when it happens, can it endure? We can dream.

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