High hopes for Spain’s new King
Spain has a new king in the face of Felipe VI, a blue-eyed 46-year-old former Olympic yachtsman, who has taken over the throne after his father Juan Carlos signed his act of abdication on Wednesday. Felipe VI is facing a rocky start to his reign as the majority of Spaniards expects him to face the challenges of crisis-ridden Spain.
Despite calls for a referendum to the monarchy, a poll after Juan Carlos announced his abdication showed that 76.9% of Spaniards have a good opinion of Felipe. Regardless of the controversies surrounding his family, Felipe is seen as a trustworthy and capable king.
However, many expect him to solve what parliament can’t, like the independence calls in Catalonia, 26% unemployment rate and a reform in Spain’s institutions.
Cold drinks seller Antonio Molina, 60, said ‘I think Spain is in good shape despite the problems but he has to change some things. He needs to renew the monarchy to get over everything that has happened, and a bit more.
‘He has to change some things.’
The Royal Family: Felipe VI, Letizia and their daughters Leonor and Sofia. Leonor will soon become the youngest direct heir to a throne in Europe.
Daily El Mundo royal specialist Cote Villar revealed the popular opinion among the Spanish people at this period: ‘Right now the Spanish want him to do just about everything: sort out Catalonia, sort out unemployment. They hope this new face will also be the new face of Spain’s institutions, which are in crisis.’
However, Villar is pessimistic about what the king can really do, since ‘at the end of the day he is just the king of a parliamentary democracy, who cannot do much.’
Felipe VI will be sworn in by parliament today and will lead a parade up to the Royal Palace. His first day as king will be a festive one with the Spanish flag flanking Madrid City Hall, lampposts, buses and raised in the hands of audiences. However, this will be one of his easier tasks — and the harder ones will surely follow.