Support for the Spanish monarchy soars after Felipe VI's first year

A year since assuming the throne, King Felipe VI appears to have reignited popular support for the Spanish monarchy despite the royal family being embroiled in several corruption scandals.

This week marks the first anniversary of Felipe's reign after he ascended to the throne after his father Juan Carlos I who had ruled since 1975. Despite popularity among many Spaniards for his role in the transition to from the oppressive regime of fascist dictator Francisco Franco to democracy Juan Carlos's abdication came after several scandals which had dented his reputation, including allegations of corruption against his son in law.

His son Felipe, however, appears to have considerably improved the royal family's image as a new poll by Spanish pollster Metroscopia published by newspaper El País today shows that 81% of Spaniards approve of Felipe's role since becoming king, while only 17% disapprove. In the same poll conducted in June 2014, less than two weeks after he was crowned king, 62% of people said they approved of the King Felipe's role, while 20% said they disapproved. Meanwhile 74% of voters also approved of King Felipe's wife, Queen Letizia.

This is a dramatically different trend to the plummeting popularity of the latter days of King Juan Carlos' reign as a different Metroscopia poll found in April 2014 that if graded out of 10, the Spanish monarch would receive a 3.7.

This surge in support for Felipe is particularly unexpected at a time of great political upheaval in Spain as radical leftist grassroots party Podemos has risen to becoming a genuine political contender ahead of this autumn's parliamentary elections. Last month's municipal elections elected Podemos-backed mayors in both Madrid and Barcelona, however the conservative, ruling party PP still registered more votes than any other party and 13 regions failed to elect any one party by an absolute majority.

When it comes to Felipe and his wife, however, opinion in Spain across different political groups appears to generally be positive. Perhaps unsurprisingly he scores the lowest among supporters of Podemos, has said in the past that it would hold a referendum on abolishing the monarchy if they won power nationally. But the majority of Podemos voters still approve of King Felipe's role (64%) while nearly the same number said the same about Queen Letizia (62%).

Among the conservative PP 98% approved of the way Felipe has conducted himself since last June, while parties closer to the centre, Ciudadanos and social democratic PSOE also registered a primarily positive view of the King as 90% of them also endorsed him.

Meanwhile 78% of Spaniards indicated they felt the monarchy at present contributed to creating a positive image for the country.

Since ascending the throne at the royal palace of Zarzuela, Felipe has made several public appeals for unity, without endorsing political factions. Ahead of last November's controversial and non-binding independence referendum in the region of Catalonia, Felipe visited the region a week after his coronation and gave a speech in Catalan on the need for "respect, understanding and coexistence".

The new king's reign has also been devoid of many elaborate celebrations, given the austerity measures which the current government has implemented since the economic crisis. There was no public celebration of his one year anniversary on the throne this week.

Felipe also made a bold choice in rescinding his sister Cristina de Borbón's title of the Duchess of Palma earlier this week because of corruption allegations made against her husband Iñaki Urdangarin which will see her appear in court. Corruption in Spain is a major public issue as its two largest parties, PP and PSOE are both embroiled in scandals involving alleged embezzlement by officials.