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|King of Spain|
Arms of His Majesty the King of Spain
Juan Carlos I
|Heir apparent:||Felipe, Prince of Asturias|
|First monarch:||King Charles I of Spain|
|Residence:||Royal Palace of Madrid|
The Monarchy of Spain, constitutionally referred to as The Crown and commonly referred to as the Spanish monarchy or (historically) Hispanic Monarchy, is a constitutional institution and a historic office of Spain. The monarchy comprises a reigning King or Queen of Spain, their family, and the royal household organization which supports and facilitates the monarch in the exercise of his royal duties and prerogatives. The monarchy is currently represented by King Juan Carlos I, his wife Queen Sofia, and their children and grandchildren. Opinion polls routinely reveal that the monarchy remains popular by a wide majority of citizens in contemporary Spain, with as many as 75% of Spanish citizens ranking the monarchy above any other public institution in the country. In 2010, the budget for the Spanish monarchy was 7.4 million euros, one of the lowest public expenditures for the institution of monarchy in Europe.
The Spanish Constitution of 1978 reestablished  a constitutional monarchy as the form of government for Spain. The 1978 constitution affirmed the role of the King of Spain as the personification and embodiment of the Spanish State and a symbol of Spain's enduring unity and permanence. Constitutionally, the king is the head-of-state and commander-in-chief of the Spanish Armed Forces. The constitution codifies the use of royal styles and titulary, royal prerogatives, hereditary succession to the crown, compensation, and a regency-guardianship contingency in cases of the monarch's minority or incapacitation. According to the constitution, the monarch is also instrumental in promoting Ibero-American relations, the "nations of its historical community". In this capacity, the King of Spain serves as the president of the Ibero-American States Organization, representing over 700,000,000 people in twenty-four member nations worldwide. In 2008, Juan Carlos I was considered the most popular leader in all Ibero-America.
The Spanish monarchy has its roots in the Visigothic Kingdom founded in Spain and Aquitainia in the 5th century, and its Christian successor states which fought the Reconquista following the Umayyad invasion of Hispania in the 8th century. A dynastic marriage between Isabel I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon united Spain in the 15th century. The Spanish Empire became one of the first global powers as Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand funded Christopher Columbus's exploratory voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. This led to the rediscovery of America by Europeans, which became the focus of Spanish colonization. Juan Carlos I, current King of Spain, is descended directly from Robert of Hesbaye (770-807) through the male line, thus making the Spanish Royal Line the second longest lived in the world, after the Japanese.
The Spanish monarchy has its roots in the Visigothic Kingdom and its Christian successor states of Navarra, Asturias and Aragon, which fought the Reconquista or Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula following the Umayyad invasion of Hispania in the 8th century. One of the earliest influential dynasties was the House of Jiménez which united much of Christian Iberia under its leadership in the 11th century. From Sancho III of Navarre (r. 1000-1035) until Urraca of León and Castile (r.1106-1125), members of the Jiménez family claimed the historic Visigothic title Imperator totius Hispaniae or Emperor of All Spain. The Jiménez rulers sought to bring their kingdoms into the European mainstream and often engaged in cross-Pyrenees alliances and marriages, and became patrons to Cluniac Reforms (c. 950–c.1130). Uracca's son and heir Alfonso VII of León and Castile, the first of the Spanish branch of the Burgundy Family, was the last to claim the imperial title of Spain, but divided his empire among his sons. The Castilian Civil War (1366 to 1369) ended with the death of King Peter (r. 1334-1369) at the hands of his illegitimate half-brother Henry, 1st Count of Trastámara who ruled as Henry II (r. 1369–1379). Henry II became the first of the House of Trastámara to rule over a Spanish kingdom. King Peter's heiress, his granddaughter Catherine of Lancaster, married Henry III, reuniting the dynasties in the person of their son, King John II.
In the 15th century, the marriage between Isabel I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, both members of the House of Trastámara, known as the Catholic Monarchs, united most of the Iberian peninsula. In 1492 the Catholic Monarchs conquered the Kingdom of Granada in southern Spain, the last moorish territory in the Iberian peninsula. This date marks the unification of Spain.
In the early 16th century, the Spanish monarchy controlled several territories in Europe under the Habsburg King Charles I (also Holy Roman Emperor as Charles V), son of Queen Joanna of Castile. His reign ushered in the Spanish Golden Age (1492–1659) a period of great colonial expansion and trade. In 1700, Charles II, the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, designated his sister Maria Theresa's grandson, Philip of France, Duke of Anjou, as his heir. The possible unification of Spain with France sparked the Spanish War of Succession in the 18th century, culminating in the treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714) which preserved the European balance of power. Philip V was the first member of the House of Bourbon (Spanish: Borbón) to rule Spain, the dynasty that still rules today under Juan Carlos I.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte forced Ferdinand VII to abdicate in 1808 and the Bourbons became a focus of popular resistance against French rule. However, Ferdinand's rejection of the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812, his ministerial appointments, particularly the exclusion of liberals, gradually eroded popular support for the Spanish monarchy. With the Pragmatic Sanction of 1830, Ferdinand set aside the Salic Law, introduced by Philip V, that prohibited women from becoming sovereigns of Spain. Thereby, as had been customary before the arrival of the Bourbons, the King's eldest daughter Isabella became his heiress presumptive. Opponents of the Pragmatic Sanction argued that it was never officially promulgated, claiming the King's younger brother, Prince Carlos, the rightful heir to the Crown according to the Salic Law.
Thus began a series of civil wars known as the Carlist Wars, named after the Carlists, who supported Prince Carlos' claim. Queen Isabel II, whose main support came from centrists and moderates, was beset by Carlisti forces on the extreme right and radicals on the extreme left. Faced with these challenges, Isabel's rule became increasingly reactionary in her dealings with the polorized Cortes, and her authoritarian rule became increasingly dependent on the army. Isabella II's reliance on the military eroded her popular support from the moderates and centrists until 1868 when she was forced to abdicate. In September 1873 the First Spanish Republic was founded.
A coup d'état restored the Borbón dynasty to the throne in 1874. However, in 1931 local and municipal elections produced victories (particularly in urban areas) for candidates favoring an end to the monarchy and the establishment of a republic. Faced with unrest in the cities, King Alfonso XIII went into exile, but did not abdicate. The ensuing provisional government evolved into the relatively short-lived Second Spanish Republic. The Spanish Civil War began in 1936 and ended on 1 April 1939 with the victory of General Francisco Franco and his coalition of allied organizations commonly referred to as the Nationalists.
General Franco ruled Spain as Regent to the King of Spain. However, without a king on the throne, he ruled through a coalition of allied organizations from the Spanish Civil War including, but not limited to, the fascist Falange political party, the supporters of the Borbon royal family, and the Carlists, until his death in 1975. Despite Franco's alliance with the Carlists, Franco appointed Juan Carlos I de Borbón as his successor, who is credited with presiding over Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy by fully endorsing political reforms.
Impatient with the pace of democratic reforms, the new king, known for his formidable personality, dismissed Carlos Arias Navarro and appointed the reformer Adolfo Suárez as President of the Government in 1977.
The next year the king signed into law the new liberal democratic Constitution of Spain, which was approved by 88% of voters. Juan Carlos' "quick wit and steady nerve" cut short the attempted military coup in 1981 when the king used a specially designed command communications center in the Zarzuela Palace to denounce the coup and command the military's eleven captain-generals to stand down.
Following the events of 1981, Juan Carlos has led a less eventful life, according to author John Hooper. The king does not preside over ceremonies such as the opening of hospitals and bridges as often as monarchs in other nations. Instead, he has worked towards establishing reliable political customs when transitioning one government administration to another, emphasizing constitutional law and protocol, and representing the Spanish State domestically and internationally, all the while maintaining a professionally non-partisan yet independent monarchy.
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The historic Crown of Spain, (la Corona de España) with its roots in the Visigothic kingdom from the 5th century and subsequent successor states, is recognized in Title II The Crown, Articles 56 through 65 of the Spanish Constitution of 1978. Constitutionally the monarch embodies and personifies the unity and permanace of the Spanish State, and represents the legal personality of the State and by extension fulfills the role of "Father of the Nation". As a unifying figure for the nation, in 2010 King Juan Carlos worked towards "bridging the gap" between Spain’s rival polarized political parties to develop a unified strategy in response to the country’s on-going late-2000's economic crisis.
National sovereignty belongs to the Spanish people, from whom all State powers emanate.—Title I, Article 2, the Spanish Constitution of 1978
The monarch "arbitrates and moderates the regular functioning of the institutions" and assumes the highest representation of the Spanish State in international relations. The monarch exercises the functions expressly conferred on him by the constitution and the laws.
The King is Head of State, the symbol of its unity and permanence. He arbitrates and moderates the regular functioning of the institutions, assumes the highest representation of the Spanish State in international relations, especially with the nations of its historical community, and exercises the functions expressly conferred on him by the Constitution and the laws.—Title II the Crown, Article 56, the Spanish Constitution of 1978
Upon accession to the crown and being proclaimed before the Cortes Generales, the king swears an oath to faithfully carry out his constitutional duties and to abide by the constitution and laws of the state. Additionally, the constitution gives the king the added responsibility to ensure that the constitution is obeyed. Lastly, the king swears to respect the rights of Spanish citizens and of the self governing communities. The Prince of Asturias, upon reaching the age of majority, in addition to any regent(s) upon assuming the office, swears the same oath as that of the king along with a further oath of loyalty to the monarch.
(1) The King, on being proclaimed before the Cortes Generales, will swear to faithfully carry out his duties, to obey the Constitution and the laws and ensure that they are obeyed, and to respect the rights of the citizens and the Self-governing Communities (2) The Crown Prince, on coming of age, and the Regent or Regents, on assuming office, will swear the same oath as well as that of loyalty to the King.—Title II The Crown, Article 61, the Spanish Constitution of 1978
The oath reads as follows:
|“||I swear faithfully to discharge my functions, to sustain and see to it that the Constitution and the Laws are sustained, and to respect the rights of the citizens and of the autonomous communities.||”|
The 1978 Constitution, Title II The Crown, Article 62, delineates the powers of the king, while Title IV Government and Administration, Article 99, defines the king's role in government. Title VI Judicial Power, Article 117, Articles 122 through 124, outlines the king's role in the country's independent judiciary. However, by constitutional convention established by Juan Carlos I, the king exercises his prerogatives having solicited government advice while maintaining a politically non-partisan and independent monarchy. Receiving government advice does not necessarily bind the monarch into executing the advice, except where prescribed by the constitution.
It is incumbent upon the King:
- a. To Sanction and promulgate the laws
- b. To summon and dissolve the Cortes Generales and to call for elections under the terms provided for in the Constitution.
- c. To Call for a referendum in the cases provided for in the Constitution.
- e. To appoint and dismiss members of the Government on the President of the Government's proposal.
- f. To issue the decrees approved in the Council of Ministers, to confer civil and military honours and distinctions in conformity with the law.
- g. To be informed of the affairs of State and, for this purpose, to preside over the meetings of the Council of Ministers whenever, he sees fit, at the President of the Government's request.
- h. To exercise supreme command of the Armed Forces
- i. To exercise the right of clemency in accordance with the law, which may not authorize general pardons.
- j. To exercise the High Patronage of the Royal Academies.
The 1978 constitution confirms the title of the monarch is King of Spain, but that he may also use other titles historically associated with the Crown. The titles used by Alfonso XIII before his exile in 1931 which, with this provision of the constitution, the king is entitled to use include:
His Catholic Majesty, the King of Spain, King of Castile, of León, of Aragón, of the Two Sicilies, of Jerusalem, of Navarre, of Granada, of Seville, of Toledo, of Valencia, of Galicia, of Sardinia, of Córdoba, of Corsica, of Murcia, of Jaén, of the Algarves, of Algeciras, of Gibraltar, of the Canary Islands, of the East and West Indies, of the Islands and Mainland of the Ocean Sea; Archduke of Austria; Duke of Burgundy, of Brabant, of Milan, of Athens and Neopatria; Count of Habsburg, of Flanders, of Tyrol, of Roussillon, and of Barcelona; Lord of Biscay and of Molina; Captain-General and Supreme Commander of the Royal Armed Forces; Sovereign Grand-Master of the Order of the Golden Fleece and of the orders awarded by the Spanish state.
According to the royal decree published in 1987, the king and the queen consort will formally be addressed as "His Majesty and Her Majesty" (Their Majesties, Spanish: Su Majestad, Su represents His or Her) rather than the traditional "Catholic Majesty" (Su Católica Majestad). A prince consort of a regnant Queen of Spain will have the style "His Royal Highness" (Su Alteza Real). Additionally, a widowed and unmarried queen consort, now a queen dowager, will continue to be addressed as "Her Majesty". A widowed and unmarried prince consort will continue to be addressed as "His Royal Highness". The heir from birth shall hold the title of Prince of Asturias and the other titles historically associated with the heir apparent. These additional titles include Prince of Viana, historically associated with the heir apparent to the Kingdom of Navarre; with the titles Prince of Girona and Duke of Montblanc historically associated with the heir apparent for the Crown of Aragon, among others. Other children of the monarch, and the children of the heir apparent, shall have the title and rank of Infante or Infanta (prince or princess), and styled His or Her Royal Highness (Su Alteza Real). Children of an Infante or Infanta of Spain "shall have the consideration of Spanish Grandees", and the address of "Your Excellency". The royal decree further limits the ability of any regent to use or create titles during the minority or incapacitation of a monarch. No further constitutional language prescribes titles or forms of address to the fourth generation, or great grandchildren, of a reigning monarch.
The monarch's position as the "Fount of honour" within Spain is codified in Article 62 (f); It is incumbent upon the monarch to "[...] confer civil and military positions and award honors and distinctions in conformity of the law". According to the Spanish Ministry of Justice, nobility and grandee titles are created by the "sovereign grace of the king", and may be passed on to the recipient's heirs, who may not sell the title. Titles may revert back to the Crown when their vacancy is observed. Succession of titles may follow one of several courses listed on the Title of Concession when the title is created. As a general rule, most titles are now inherited by absolute Cognatic Primogeniture (as of 2006), in which the first born inherits all titles regardless of gender. However, a title holder may designate his successor, Succession by Assignment, or disperse his titles among his children – with the eldest getting the highest ranking title, Succession by Distribution.
The king awarded peerages to two of his former prime ministers who have retired from active politics: Adolfo Suárez, who was created 1st Duke of Suárez; and Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo who was created 1st Marquess of la Ría de Ribadeo. The king's third prime minister Felipe González declined a title, while José María Aznar's tenure was mired in controversies making a peerage unlikely. All successive politicians remain active within politics.
The king grants military and civil orders and awards of distinction, customarily on the advice of government. The most distinguished order the king may award is the Order of Charles III to "citizens who, with their effort, initiative and work, have brought a distinguished and extraordinary service to the Nation". The Laureate Cross of Saint Ferdinand is Spain's highest military award for gallantry. Other historic awards and distinctions include the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece, the Order of Isabella the Catholic, the Order of Alfonso X, the Order of Marie Louise, the Order of Saint Raimundo de Penafort, the Order of Military Merit, the Order of Naval Merit, the Order of Aerial Merit, the Order of Civil Merit, the Order of Cultural Merit, the Order of Calatrava, the Order of the Knights of Santiago, the Order of Sant Jordi d'Alfama, and the Order of Alcántara, among others.
The Spanish monarch is personally immune from prosecution for acts committed by government ministers in the king's name. This legal convention mirrors the concept of sovereign immunity which evolved in similar constitutional monarchies. The legal concept of sovereign immunity evolved into other aspects of immunity law in similar liberal democracies, such as parliamentary immunity, judicial immunity, and qualified immunity in the United States.
The Person of the King of Spain is inviolable and shall not be held accountable. His acts shall always be countersigned in the manner established in section 64. Without such countersignature they shall not be valid, except as provided under section 65(2).
The concept of lèse majesté (lesa majestad) exists in Spanish jurisprudence, which is the crime or offense violating the dignity of the head-of-state or the State itself. According to Article 56 of the 1978 Constitution the monarch and the dignity of the Spanish State are one and the same: "The King is Head of State, the symbol of its unity and permanence". Breaching Spain's lèse majesté laws may carry fines and up to two years in prison. The concept is within the same legal sphere as legislation prohibiting flag desecration in other democratic countries. Additionally, lèse majesté extends to any foreign heads-of-state visiting Spain, and other members of the royal family, and to the Spanish President of the Government as the king's appointed officer.
The Spanish satirical magazine El Jueves was fined for violation of Spain's lèse majesté laws after publishing an issue with a caricature of the Prince and Princess of Asturias engaging in sexual intercourse on their cover in 2007. In 2008, 400 Catalonia separatists burned images of the king and queen in Madrid, and in 2009 two Galician separatists were fined for burning effigies of the king.
According to Article 57 the Crown of Spain is inherited by the successors of King Juan Carlos I de Borbón through male preference primogeniture Article 57 is also significant in that it omits entirely the Franconist era designation of Juan Carlos as Franco's successor. While drafting the new constitution, lawyer and liberal congressman Joaquín Satrústegui (1909–1992) insisted that the phrase the legitimate heir of the historic dynasty be included in the text to underscore that the monarchy was an historic institution predating the constitution or the prior regime. Additionally, Satrústegui was "anxious to remove" notions that the constitutional monarchy had any Francoist origins, according to author Charles Powell.
The Crown of Spain shall be inherited by the successors of HM Juan Carlos I de Borbón, the legitimate heir of the historic dynasty. Succession to the throne shall follow the regular order of primogeniture and representation, the first line having preference over subsequent lines; and within the same line the closer grade over the more remote; and within the same grade the male over female, and in the same sex, the elder over the younger..
Male preference cognatic primogeniture has been practiced in Spain since the 11th century in the various Visigothic successor states and codified in the Siete Partidas, with women able to inherit in certain circumstances. However, with the succession of Philip V in 1700, the first of the Spanish Bourbons, women were barred from succession until Ferdinand VII reintroduced the right and designated his eldest daughter Isabella as his heiress presumptive by 1833.
With the birth of Infanta Leonor of Spain on 31 October 2005 to the Prince and Princess of Asturias, President Zapatero reaffirmed his government's intention to amend the Spanish constitution by introducing full and equal cognatic primogeniture, also known in French as aînesse intégrale, which is a gender neutral succession law already adopted in Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Luxembourg. Zapatero's proposal was supported by the leader of the main opposition party, the conservative Partido Popular, making its passage likely. The rights of the current heir apparent Felipe, Prince of Asturias, would be maintained. With full or equal cognatic primogentiture, the first born would be the heir apparent regardless of gender. Paving the way, in 2006 the king issued a decree reforming the succession to noble titles from male preference primogeniture to absolute and equal cognatic primogeniture. However, as succession to the Crown is codified explicitly in the constitution, its reform mandates an amendment to the constitution, a somewhat more complicated process than issuing a royal decree. Prince Felipe has counseled reformers that there is plenty of time before the constitutional amendment would need to be enacted as he is next in line, and after him his daughters.
If all lines designated by law become extinct, the constitution reserves the right for the Cortes Generales to provide for the succession "in the manner most suitable for Spain". The 1978 constitution disinherits members of the royal family from succession if they marry against the expressed prohibition of the monarch and the Cortes Generales, as well as their descendants. Lastly, Article 57 further provides that "Abdications and renunciations and any doubt in fact or in law that may arise in connection with the succession to the Crown shall be settled by an organic act".
The constitution outlines the regency of the monarchy and guardianship of the person of the monarch in the event of his minority or incapacitation. The office of Regent(s) and the Guardianship of the monarch (whether the monarch is in his minority or incapacitated), may not necessarily be the same person. In the event of the minority of the monarch, the surviving mother or father, or oldest relative of legal age who is nearest in line to the throne, would immediately assume the office of Regent, who in any case must be Spanish. If a monarch becomes incapacitated, and that incapacitation is recognized by the Cortes Generales, then the Prince of Asturias (the heir apparent), shall immediately become Regent, if he is of age. If the Prince of Asturias is himself a minor, then the Cortes Generals shall appoint a Regency which may be composed of one, three, or five persons. The person of the king in his minority shall fall under the guardianship of the person designated in the will of the deceased monarch, provided that he or she be of age and of Spanish nationality. If no guardian has been appointed in the will, then the father or mother will then assume the guardianship, as long as they remain widowed. Otherwise, the Cortes Generales shall appoint both the Regent(s) and the guardian, who in this case may not be held by the same person, except by the father or mother of direct relation of the king.
The constitution defines the government's responsibilities. The government consists of the President of the Government and ministers of state. The government conducts domestic and foreign policy, civil and military administration, and the defense of the nation all in the name of the king. Additionally, the government exercises executive authority and statutory regulations. The most direct prerogative the monarch exercises in the formation of Spanish governments is in the nomination and appointment process of the President of the Government (Presidente del Gobierno de España). Following the General Election of the Cortes Generales (Cortes), and other circumstances provided for in the constitution, the king meets with and interviews the political party leaders represented in the Cortes, and then consults with the Speaker of the Congress (who, in this instance, represents the whole of the Cortes Generalas).
- (1) After each renewal of the Congress and the other cases provided for under the Constitution, the King shall, after consultation with the representatives appointed by the political groups with parliamentary representation, and through the Speaker of the Congress, nominate for the Presidency of the Government.
- (2) The candidate nominated in accordance with the provisions of the foregoing subsection shall submit to the Congress the political program of the Government he or she intends to form and shall seek the confidence of the House.
Constitutionally, the monarch may nominate anyone he sees fit as his prerogative. However, it remains pragmatic for him to nominate the person most likely to enjoy the confidence of the Cortes and form a government, usually the political leader whose party commands the most seats in the Cortes. For the Crown to nominate the political leader whose party controls the Cortes can be seen as a royal endorsement of the democratic process, a fundamental concept enshrined in the 1978 constitution. By political custom, the king's nominees have all been from parties who hold the most seats in the Cortes. The king is normally able announce his nominee the day following a General Election.
The king's nominee is presented before the Cortes by the Speaker where the nominee and his political agenda are debated and submitted for a Vote of Confidence (Cuestión de confianza) by the Cortes. A simple majority confirms the nominee and his program. After the nominee is deemed confirmed by the Speaker of the Congress of Deputies, the king appoints him as the new President of the Government in a ceremony performed at the Salón de Audiencias in the la Zarzuela Palace, the official residence of the king. During the inauguration ceremony, the President of the Government takes an oath of office over an open Constitution next to the Holy Bible. The oath as taken by President Zapatero on his second term in office on 17 April 2004 was;:
I swear, under my conscience and honor, to faithfully execute the duties of the office of President of the Government with loyalty to the King, obey and enforce the Constitution as the main law of the State, and preserve in secret the deliberations of the Council of Ministers.
However, if no overall majority was obtained on the first vote of confidence, then the same nominee and program is resubmitted for a second vote within forty-eight hours. Following the second vote, if confidence by the Cortes is still unreached, then the monarch again meets with political leaders and the Speaker, and submits a new nominee for a vote of confidence. If, within two months, no candidate has won the confidence of the Cortes then the king dissolves the Cortes and calls for a new General Election. The king's royal decree is countersigned by the Speaker of the Congress.
In the political life of Spain, the king would already be familiar with the various political leaders in a professional capacity, and perhaps less formally in a more social capacity, facilitating their meeting following a General Election. Conversely, nominating the party leader whose party maintains a plurality and who are already familiar with their party manifesto facilitates a smoother nomination process. In the event of coalitions, the political leaders would customarily have met beforehand to hammer out a coalition agreements before their meeting with the king. Once appointed, the President of the Government forms an administration whose ministers are appointed and removed by the king on the president's advice. No minister may take up his appointment until after they give their oath of office to obey the constitution with loyalty to the king.
As early as 1975, Juan Carlos expressed his view that his role in the government of a "crowned democracy" would be for him to counsel and orient an administration's "thrust in action", but for the government to take the initiative without the need for it to involve the king unnecessarily in its decisions. Therefore, Juan Carlos has abstained from presiding over cabinet meetings except under special occasions or circumstances. Generally, the king presides over cabinet meetings once or twice a year (more regularly if needed) to be directly informed by ministers of non-partisan national and international concerns. However, the king does meet weekly with the President of the Government, usually on Tuesday mornings. During the late-2000's economic recession which gripped the nation, the king discretly used his influence to facilitate a bi-partisan response to the crisis.
Governments and the Cortes sit for a term no longer than four years when the president tenders his resignation to the king and advises the king to dissolve the Cortes, prompting a General Election. It remains within the king's prerogative to dissolve the Cortes if, at the conclusion of the four years, the president has not asked for its dissolution, according to Title II Article 56. The president may call for earlier elections, but no sooner than a year after the prior General Election. Additionally, if the Government loses the confidence of the Cortes, then it must resign. In the event that a president dies or becomes incapacitated while in office, then the government as a whole resigns and the process of royal nomination and appointment takes place. The vice president would take over the day to day operations in the meantime, even while vice president himself may be nominated by the king.
The constitution vests the sanction (Royal Assent) and promulgation (publication) of the laws with the king, while Title III The Cortes Generals, Chapter 2 Drafting of Bills outlines the method with which bills are passed. According to Article 91, within fifteen days that a bill has been passed by the Cortes Generales, the king shall give his assent and publish the new law. Article 92 invests the king with the right to call for referendum on the advice of the president and the previous authorization of Congress.
No provision within the constitution invests the king with the ability to veto legislation directly, however no provision prohibits the king from withholding royal assent, effectively a veto. When the media asked King Juan Carlos if he would endorse the 2005 bill legalizing gay marriages (the implication implied that he may not endorse the bill), he answered "Soy el Rey de España y no el de Bélgica" ("I am the King of Spain, not of Belgium")– a reference to King Baudouin I of Belgium who had refused to sign the Belgian law legalising abortion in Belgium.
According to Title VI of the constitution, Justice in Spain "emanates from the people and is administered on behalf of the King by judges and magistrates members of the Judicial Power..." It remains a royal prerogative for the king to appoint the twenty members to the General Council of the Judicial Power of Spain (Spain's Supreme Court), and then appoint the President of the Supreme Court nominated by the General Council, according to Article 122, Subsection 3, of the constitution. However, by convention the king's nominations have been with the advice of the government of the day.
The General Council of the Judicial Power shall consist of the President of the Supreme Court, who shall preside over it, and of twenty members appointed by the King for a five-year period, of which twelve shall be judges and magistrates of all the judicial categories, under the terms provided for by the organic act; four nominated by the Congress and four by the Senate, elected in both cases by three-fifths of their members amongst lawyers and other jurists of acknowledged competence with more than fifteen years of professional practice.
Additionally, the king appoints the State Public Prosecutor on the advice of the government, according to Article 124. The king may grant clemency in accordance with the law, however the king may not authorize a general pardon of government ministers who have been found criminally liable or guilty of treason by the Criminal Article of the Supreme Court, according to Articles 62 and 102.
Constitutionally the king accredits Spanish ambassadors to international states and governments, and foreign representatives to Spain are accredited before him. However, the government of the day manages diplomatic policy on behalf of the monarch. Additionally, it remains the responsibility for the monarch to express the state's assent to international commitments and treaties, which must be in conformity with the Spanish constitution.
Juan Carlos followed a foreign policy during the first decade of his kingship coined Reencounter and Reconciliation, which greatly improved Spain's standing on the world stage. The king reconciled long standing historic tensions with the Netherlands and cultivated relationships with France and Germany which led directly to Spain's entry into the European Community and into NATO. Following the tensions between Franco and the Papacy over the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Juan Carlos' personal relations with successive popes greatly improved diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Spain, and with Pope Paul VI blessing Juan Carlos' democratic reforms. According to historian Charles Powell, it was the king's goal to win Spain's full acceptance by other European powers. The king, a self described Europeanist, was awarded the prestigious Charlemagne Award in 1982 for his steadfast work towards democracy and for supporting European unity. The constitution gives the monarch special responsibility in promoting Spanish relations with members of its historic community, the nations formerly part of the Spanish Empire and also relations with Portugal and Brazil. Fulfilling this responsibility, the King of Spain serves as president of the twenty-four member Ibero-American States Organization. With his support of democracy, various elements within Ibero-America political society have sought the king's advice on how to transition from a dictatorship to a democracy. For his efforts, by 2008 the king was voted the most popular leader in all of the Ibero-America community.
The king is assisted in his diplomatic missions by the Foreign Ministry, and high-ranking members of the Foreign Ministry are made available to the king when he is abroad representing Spain. The royal household coordinates with the Foreign Ministry to ensure successful diplomatic engagements. Additionally, other members of the royal family, most notably the Prince of Asturias, may represent the Spanish State internationally. Though the Spanish monarchy is independent of the government, it is important that royal speeches are compatible with government foreign policy to project a unified diplomatic effort. To achieve balance, royal household speechwriters confer with the Foreign Ministry to ensure that the official speeches strike the desired diplomatic tone between the king's views and government policy. When necessary and appropriate, the king and his government may focus on two different aspects in a diplomatic engagement. The king may emphasize one aspect, such as the promotion of democracy and historic relations; while the government focuses on the details of strategic planning and bilateral coordination.
The king and members of the royal family have represented Spain in Europe, Latin America, in the United States and in Canada, nations in the Middle East and North Africa, in China, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and many countries in sub-Sahara Africa. The king and Prince of Asturias have addressed many international organizations which include the United Nations, the institutions of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States, UNESCO, the International Labour Organization, and the Arab League. Since 2000, Prince Felipe has represented Spain in half of all diplomatic engagements.
The role of the Crown in the Spanish armed forces is rooted in tradition and patriotism as demonstrated in the symbols and the history of the military. The role of the Spanish monarch in the chain of command of the forces is established by the constitution of 1978, and other statutory law ( Acts of Parliament, Royal Decrees etc. ).
It is incumbent upon the King [...] to exercise Supreme Command of the Armed Forces.—Title II The Crown, Article 62 (H), the Spanish Constitution of 1978.
The King exercises Supreme Command of the Armed Forces and other powers regarding national defense that are provided for in the constitution and other laws.—Title 1 the Crown, Article 3, National Defense Act, November 17, 2005
However, Title IV of the constitution vests the administration of the armed forces and formulation of national defense policy with the President of the Government, a civilian authority who is nominated and appointed by the king, confirmed by the elected Congress of Deputies and, as such, is representative of the Spanish people.
Royal Decree #1310 of Oct 5, 2007 requires the National Defence Council to report to the monarch, and that the king is to be the Chairman of the Council when he attends its sessions. The National Defence Council is Spain's highest advisory body on security and defense matters and performs the same basic function as the US National Security Council. King Juan Carlos chaired the first full meeting of the council on Nov 10 2007, at which the newly proposed National Defence Directive was reviewed along with the ongoing peace missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia and Lebanon.
As Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the king holds the highest ranking office in the military chain of command. The king's ranks include Captain General of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The king is the only officer in the military to hold this 5 Star General rank. The king takes a keen interest in all aspects of military policy as evidenced by "his direct participation in the life of the Spanish Armed Forces". The king's participation in Spanish military life stems from his constitutional duty to "arbitrate and moderate" the regular working of state institutions. Serving in the armed forces is considered an expectation of the heir apparent, and Juan Carlos served in the various branches of the armed forces before he became king. Likewise, Prince Felipe, Prince of Asturias, has served in the armed forces.
The monarch has made his desire for a strong raport with the armed forces clear in speeches to his officer corp:
I do not feel a stranger in your company, and my functions are not limited to being your king and to holding the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. I am also your companion... I feel one more among you... because my youth has been formed, as yours and with many of you, in military academies where virtues are praised and qualities infused which are not modified by time or by the changes that may occur in society [...] In my heart, in all my being, side by side with my love for the country, palpitates military spirit, and I feel always identified with my companions in the army, with your concerns, your sorrows, your satisfactions and your hopes. So when I see you joyful, I am joyful. When I feel You sad, I am sad. And all, absolutely all of your worries, all absolutely all of your problems gravitate on your king and Captain General-your companion-with the same intensity that is felt by you.—Juan Carlos Easter Military Address, 1980
The Spanish monarchy continues to enjoy wide support and popularity by Spanish citizens since its constitutional restoration in 1978, according to Fernando Villespin, president of the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS, English: Sociological Research Center) in 2008. According to Villespin, the king's average approval rating of over 70% through the years consistently out-performs those of elected political leaders, and a similar percentage of respondents consider that the king plays an important role in maintaining Spanish democracy. Public trust in Juan Carlos’ kingship "comes only behind that of the National Ombudsman," Villespin continued. Members of the royal family are routinely voted among the most respected public figures in Spain, and in 2010 as many as 75% of Spanish citizens ranked the monarchy as "above any other public institution in the country", according to Dr Juan Díez-Nicolás, a former president of the CIS and founder of the private consulting firm ASEP (Análisis Sociológicos Económicos y Políticos). The CIS, a non-partisan government funded independent research institution, has been researching public opinion of the monarchy since 1984 and tracks three basic lines of inquiry; what is public confidence in the monarchy, what is the role of the monarchy in a democratic system, and to what degree has the king contributed to the democratic process.
The king is routinely considered one of the top ten most popular figures in Spain, with as many as 80% of Spanish believing Spain's transition to democracy would not have been made possible without the king's personal intervention. Historian and royal biographer Charles Powell told BBC News in 2008 that "There's a deep-rooted feeling of gratitude for the king's role in the transition to democracy [and] Polls show that he is the individual to whom democratisation is most closely attributed, and the sense of gratitude cuts across class and ideological lines."
Part of the monarchy's appeal may lay in the personal characteristics of Juan Carlos, whose philosophy on his family, on personal integrity, and on a selfless work ethic were revealed in intimate private letters of fatherly advice to his son Felipe, Prince of Asturias, between 1984 and 1985, when Felipe was then attending university in Canada. According to Juan Carlos a monarch must not take his position for granted but work for the people's welfare, be kind, attentive and helpful, and "appear animated even when you are tired; kind even when you don't feel like it; attentive even when you are not interested; helpful even when it takes an effort [...] You need to appear natural, but not vulgar; cultivated and aware of problems, but not pedantic or conceited".
The king continued;
Those whom God has chosen to be kings and to be at the head of the destiny of a country do not have any other choice than to start to understand the importance and the special characteristics of the position, because one can say that they start to become adults long before other boys of their age. If in this life it is as important to form and strengthen character enough to permit us to lead, it is not any less to know how to obey. In spite of the high positions that we hold in life, it will always be vital to know we also have duties to perform and obedience always involves real honour [...] We have to build a closely united family, without fissures or contradictions, we must not forget that on all and on each one of us are fixed the eyes of Spaniards whom we should serve with body and soul. I do not want to prolong my first letter any more in order not to tire you, but I would hope that this as well as the succeeding ones I send you leave a profound impression on you and are read calmly and thought about seriously.
"I have had to stand snubs and contempt, incomprehension and annoyances that you, thank God, have not known", reminded the king to his son in one letter. The private letters from father to son remain within the royal household, but were copied and released into the public domain without any approval or foreknowledge, according to a Zarzuela palace official who confirmed the letter's authenticity.
Despite the high approval ratings from the Spanish mainstream, and in particular the personal popularity enjoyed by the current king and queen, the monarchy has been the focus of acute criticism from the extreme left and extreme right of the Spanish political spectrum, and by regional separatists. As many as 22% of Spanish citizens feel that a republic would be the better form of government for Spain, while separatists and independence supporters in the Basque Country and Catalonia routinely protest the monarchy as the living symbol of a united Spain. The extreme left criticize the institution of monarchy as anachronistic, while the far right criticize King Juan Carlos personally because he has given his royal assent and tacit approval to what they perceive to be a liberal agenda in Spain and a secularism of Spanish life.
Members of the royal family, "the royals", are often invited by non-profit charitable, cultural, or religious organizations within Spain or internationally to become their patrons, a role the Spanish constitution recognizes. Royal patronage conveys a sense of official credibility as the organization is vetted for suitability. A royal presence often greatly raises the profile of the organization and attracts public interest and media coverage that the organization may not have otherwise garnered, aiding in the charitable cause or cultural event. Royals use their considerable celebrity to assist the organization to raise funds or to affect or promote government policy.
Members of the royal family also pursue charitable and cultural causes of special interest to themselves. Queen Sofía devotes much of her time to the Queen Sofia Foundation (Fundación Reina Sofia). Established in 1977 out of the queen's private funds, the non-profit aims to assist, promote, and develop the spiritual and physical needs of men and women from diverse backgrounds, with a particular focus on progress, welfare, and justice.
Prince Felipe chairs the Prince of Asturias Foundation (Fundación Príncipe de Asturias), which aims to promote "scientific, cultural and humanistic values that form part of mankind's universal heritage." The Prince of Asturias Foundation holds annual awards ceremonies acknowledging the contributions of individuals, entities, and organizations which make notable achievements in the sciences, humanities, or public affairs. Prince Felipe serves as president of the Codespa Foundation, which finances specific economic and social development activities in Ibero-America and other countries, and serves as president of the Spanish branch of the Association of European Journalists, which is composed of achieving communications professionals. Prince Felipe also serves as honorary chair of the Ministry of Culture National Awards Ceremonies.
Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo, the king's eldest daughter, is the Director of Cultural and Social Projects of Mapfre Foundation, while Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, the king's youngest daughter, served as the Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations for the 2nd World Assembly on Ageing, and is a member of the Dali Foundation Board of Trustees, president of the International Foundation for Disabled Sailing, and Director of Social Welfare at the La Caixa Foundation in Barcelona where she lives with her family.
The king gives annual Christmas Eve National Speeches entitled "Mensaje de S.M. Juan Carlos I" which are broadcast by radio and television through various media outlets. The king usually refers to social or economic challenges facing the nation as well as positive messages of charity, good will, and religious faith. In 2004, the speech was highly related to the 2004 Madrid train bombings; in 2006 he talked about the need to become a united nation against terrorism (in implicit support of Zapatero's anti-terrorist policies), and he mentioned the increasing force of immigrants in Spain and appreciated their contribution to the economy.
The royal household organization, constitutionally La Casa de Su Majestad el Rey, supports and facilitates the monarch and members of the royal family in fulfilling their constitutionally hereditary responsibilities and obligations. The royal household is funded through yearly budgets drafted by the government of the day in consultation with the monarch, and brought before the Cortes for approval, and then paid directly to the monarch. The royal household coordinates with various government administration ministries, and receives their advice and support where needed, though in no way does the royal household form part of the government administration. Royal household staff serve at the pleasure of the monarch, and does not resign when the Spanish government resigns during election cycles. The royal household is managed by the Head of the Household who inspects and supervises all household operations through various bureaus or offices of the General Secretariat. The Head of the Household is assisted by a Secretary General. The General Secretariat is divided into various departments which includes planning and coordination, the secretariat (bureau) of H.M. the Queen, the secretariat (bureau) of H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias, security services, public relations and the media, protocol, administration, Infrastructure and Services.
The Spanish Armed Forces are represented by the Head of the Military Chamber, who does not advise the king on matters of national defense, which is the portfolio of the Minister of Defence and President of the Government to advise the king. Rather, the Head of the Military Chamber coordinates royal military operations and ceremonies, and prepares the royal family for any military activities. The Military Chamber is directed by a commander who must be an active lieutenant-general or a general within the Spanish military, and is under the direct orders of the king. The commander maintains an office with a military legal advisor, an auditor, and section heads for staffing, protocol, operations and logistics. The king is assigned personal aides-de-camp for his assistance, and by extension to the queen and Infantas Doña Elena and Doña Cristina during their official activities. Aides-de-camp are drawn from all of the services, with four from the Army, two from the Navy, two from the Air Force, and one from the Civil Guard. The Prince of Asturias is entitled to personal aides-de-camp assigned to him and the Princess of Asturias, with one drawn each from the army, the navy and the air force.
The Head of the Household, Secretary General, and Head of the Military Chamber are considered senior management staff and are compensated at the level of senior government administration officials. In 2004, the royal household employed 100 staff members.
The royal household's public relations department manages and maintaines an official website on behalf of the royal family known as Casa de S.M. El Rey. The website lists biographical information on members of the immediate royal family, charts their activities, records speeches given at events, and publishes their expected diary of upcoming events, among other information. Additionally, the public relations department publishes the king's diary of his private meetings and the meeting minutes, so long as the other party agrees.
The king and queen officially reside at the Oriente Palace in Madrid. However, the couple have spent the majority of their time at the modest La Zarzuela Palace, a former hunting lodge on the El Pardo estate on the outskirts of Madrid. The Prince of Asturias and his family reside at the Prince's House (also known as the Pavilion) near the La Zarzuela, also on the El Pardo estate. The El Pardo Palace itself has served as the "guest house" for visiting heads of state since the 1980s.
The Oriente Palace and the palaces of the El Pardo estate form part of the "Spanish royal sites", a collective term used to denote the set of palaces, monasteries, and convents built under royal patronage throughout history. Royal sites are owned by the state and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional (National Heritage) on behalf of the government of the day, and made available for the king as the head of state. Whenever a member of the royal family is not in residence, the royal site is made available for public visitations. The royal household coordinates directly with the National Heritage Council and releavent government ministries or other interests in their planning and staging of state events, with royal sites often providing the setting.
The king and his family regularly vacation on Palma de Mallorca making use of the Marivent Palace there since the 1960s. In 2001 the king, known as a keen yachtman, was given a yacht by the Balearic Islands and a consortium of local business leaders as part of an effort to further associate the royal family with the islands, and to promote the islands as a tourist destination. The yacht, known as the Fortuna, is also owned by the State and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional.
Constitutionally the monarch is entitled to compensation from the annual state budget for the maintenance of his family and household administration, and freely distributes these funds in accordance with the laws. According to the Royal Household, "[T]he purpose of these resources is to ensure that the Head of State may carry out his tasks with the independence which is inherent to his constitutional functions, as well as with due effectiveness and dignity". The annual budget pays the remunerations for senior management staff, management staff and career civil servants, other minor staffing positions, and for general office expenses. The Head of Household, Secretary General, and other management staff salaries must be comparable to other administration ministers within the government, though in no way do they form part of the government or administration. As such, the management staff experience increases, decreases, or freezes to their pay in accordance with the fluctuations of government minister salaries. Additionally, the annual budget pays for the maintenance and expenses of senior members of the royal family who undertake royal duties; which includes grocery, clothing, and toiletries allotments. The budget approved by the Cortes for 2010 was just under 7.4 million euros, a budget only slightly larger than that spent on the Luxembourg monarchy. Not included in the annual budget is the maintenance and upkeep of Spanish royal sites, which are owned by the state and made available to the king as the head-of-state, but administered by Patrimonio Nacional on behalf of the government of the day. Spanish royal sites are open to the public when members of the royal family are not in residence. Maintenance and upkeep includes groundskeeping, domestic staffing and catering. The budget is administered with professional Public Administration accounting procedures, and is audited by government auditors. All members of the royal family are subject to taxation and annually submit Income Tax and Wealth Tax returns and effect the relevant payments.
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