Spain's King Juan Carlos abdicated the throne to his son, Prince Felipe, on Monday “to make way for the new generation,” Reuters reported. Now, thousands are turning out in cities across Spain to call for an end to the Spanish monarchy altogether.
Protesters gathered in central plazas of Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Málaga, Seville and other Spanish cities to advocate for a nationwide ballot referendum on the existence of the monarchy. Many waved red, yellow and purple flags, which were the colors of the Second Spanish Republic that lasted from 1931 until 1939, when the dictator Francisco Franco came to power after a military coup. The Spanish monarchy was re-established in 1975 following Franco’s death.
Photos and videos were posted under the hashtag #referendumYA, meaning “referendum now,” and #IIIRepublica, a reference to the fact that if the monarchy ends, it would usher in the “third republic” Spain has seen.
Juan Carlos, who took the throne in two days after Franco's death, is credited with helping the country usher in democracy in 1975 and with saving it from a military coup in 1981. But his reign has recently been plagued by scandal, causing his popularity to plummet. His daughter, Princess Cristina, and her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, are currently being investigated for embezzling 6 million euros in public funds through Urdangarin’s charity.
The king was also accused of being out of touch with the soaring unemployment that Spaniards have suffered in recent years, which came to a head when he was photographed on a lavish privately funded elephant-hunting trip. Some tweets Monday showed an image of an elephant in painted the colors of the flag of the Second Republic.
The rally filled Puerto del Sol, the central square in Madrid:
Plaça Catalunya, Barcelona:
Gran Canaria, Canary Islands:
Protests also popped up near Spanish consulates in other European countries.
A rally seeking a referendum on the continued existence of the Spanish monarchy is planned for 5:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time outside of the Spanish consulate in New York City.