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article imageSpain's King Juan Carlos abdicates the throne

By Anne Sewell     Jun 2, 2014 in World
Madrid - A surprise press conference was called Monday morning where Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced the abdication of Spanish King Juan Carlos in favor of his son Felipe.
Rajoy continued by saying that the 76-year-old monarch will make an appearance at midday, local time, on Monday to explain his decision.
Rajoy continued, “I have found the king convinced that this is the best moment for a change in the leadership of state with complete normalcy.”
He added that Juan Carlos' son, 46-year-old Felipe VI, will take over, saying that his "training, character and broad experience are a solid guarantee that his work will live up to the highest expectations.”
Recent health problems and declining popularity over a controversial and expensive hunting expedition in Botswana during a time of economic problems in Spain have caused speculation in recent months over the possibility of an abdication.
Other recent royal scandals have also played a part in the speculation, including the long-running corruption case involving the king's youngest daughter Cristina and her husband Iñaki Urdangarin over the alleged embezzlement of €6 million ($8.3 million) in funds from a charitable sports foundation.
In recent months, Felipe has been standing in more and more for his father at official ceremonies overseas, including the swearing-in of numerous Latin American dignitaries. His reputation has been untouched by the various scandals.
Referring to Juan Carlos' role, which brought Spaniards together during the transitional period from Franco’s dictatorship to a new democracy, Rajoy hailed Juan Carlos saying:
“For 39 years he was the best symbol of our peaceful coexistence. His figure is so closely linked to democracy that one cannot be understood without the other.”
“He was Spain’s best spokesman and its best image in every corner of the planet. We will never be able to pay back our debt of gratitude to him.”
However, The Local quotes Spain's left-wing Izquierda Unida party as calling for a referendum to allow Spaniards to choose between monarchy and a republic.
A petition has been started in the Avaaz website (Spanish language) calling for the referendum.
Meanwhile, in true modern form, the King's abdication appears on the Royal House's Twitter feed:
King Juan Carlos abdicates the crown of Spain.
King Juan Carlos abdicates the crown of Spain.
More about Spain, Madrid, Juan carlos, abdication, Prince Felipe
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