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article image'No more monarchy' protests hit the streets of Spain (Video)

By Anne Sewell     Jun 3, 2014 in Politics
Madrid - Yesterday morning, King Juan Carlos I announced his abdication from the throne. By that evening, thousands were in the streets, demanding an end to the monarchy and a return to the republic.
Soon after the announcement of the Spanish king's abdication, petitions were started as people called for a referendum to decide the type of leadership they want.
King Juan Carlos' made a live address at 1 p.m. Monday on Spanish television, informing the people of his decision to abdicate and saying that his son, Felipe, would be king. It didn't take long for people to club together on the social media to arrange demonstrations by thousands of people in many of the country's main cities, including Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, Alicante, A Coruña and Vigo.
Madrid saw the largest gathering, with an estimated 20,000 people in the Puerta del Sol square and Barcelona estimates around 5,000 protesters.
The Madrid demonstration was put together by leftist parties, including Podemos, a new political party coming from the 15m "indignado" movement, which was the fourth most voted party in Spain in the recent EU elections. Podemos achieved five seats in the European Parliament.
During the demonstrations, Spain's republican flag, which dates back to the time before General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, was seen widely in the streets. There was much representation from the Spanish Communist Party and other leftist groups along with several United Left leaders and the head of the green party Equo, Juan López de Uralde.
People want change. They do not want to continue under the rule of a monarchy. Sixty-eight-year-old resident of Madrid, Hilario Montereo, told the media: “I am here to proclaim the Third Republic. A monarchy in the 21st century is an anachronism.”
“I am here because what happened today, the abdication of King Juan Carlos, is a historical event,” said a young woman in the crowd. “I am in favor of the referendum, although rather than oppose the monarchy, what I really oppose are our leaders. I know it sounds strange, but that’s the way it is.”
The protest in Madrid was peaceful, although police cordoned off both Congress and the Royal Palace to prevent demonstrators getting too close. Reportedly, however, the protest was technically illegal, as under new laws, authorities require to be informed ahead of time when street marches are planned.
Republican slogans were chanted including "real transition without a king," "throw the Bourbons to the sharks" and "Spain will be republican tomorrow."
The Barcelona protest was held in the Plaza de Catalunya, where the Catalan flag was waved along with the Spanish republican flag.
Seville in southern Spain saw 2,000-5,000 people in the streets shouting slogans such as: “Felipe, step on the gas, the third [republic] is coming.”
Paola Torija, 24, summed up the situation perfectly, saying:
"I think now would be a good time to proclaim a republic."
"He had his moment of glory but today it is a bit archaic, a bit useless, an extra cost especially in the crisis we are living in," she added.
The Local reported that there was even a pro-republican demonstration outside the Spanish Embassy in London, which was attended by hundreds of Spaniards living in England's capital.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has since announced that a referendum would be illegal, saying:
"Propose a constitutional reform if you don't like this constitution. You have the perfect right to do so. But what you cannot do in a democracy is bypass the law."
Pro-republic supporters demonstrate in Madrid on June 2  2014 against Spain's monarchy
Pro-republic supporters demonstrate in Madrid on June 2, 2014 against Spain's monarchy
Pedro Armestre, AFP
Supporters of an independant state of Catalonia and Republicans celebrate the abdication of Spanish ...
Supporters of an independant state of Catalonia and Republicans celebrate the abdication of Spanish King Juan Carlos de Borbon in Barcelona on June 2, 2014
Quique Garcia, AFP
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