The Government gives Felipe VI a free hand to decide if King Juan Carlos returns to Spain | Spain

The Minister of Territorial Policy and Government spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, during a press conference after the meeting of the Council of Ministers, this Tuesday.
The Minister of Territorial Policy and Government spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, during a press conference after the meeting of the Council of Ministers, this Tuesday.JJ Guillén (EFE)

The Government leaves Felipe VI free to make one of the most difficult decisions of his reign: to choose whether to allow his father, King Juan Carlos I, to return to Spain once his judicial horizon is clearing, despite the fact that The scandal is still in full swing because the data shows that he had an opaque fortune in Switzerland for years and obtained multimillion dollar gifts from monarchies of the Persian Gulf without the knowledge of the Spanish and without it being clear why they gave him those amounts, up to 65 million euros. In La Moncloa, the spokeswoman for the Executive, Isabel Rodríguez, has made it clear that this is a decision that belongs to Felipe VI and the Government does not intend to interfere or pressure. “It does not correspond to us. We will be respectful of the decision that will be made in the Royal House regarding your return [del rey emérito]”, He pointed out when asked by the press. The debate on the future of the emeritus king and the Monarchy was transferred to all groups in Congress and United We can again distance itself from the PSOE, its partner in the Executive, by maintaining its accusation of “corrupt” over Juan Carlos I and requesting another design of the Spanish monarchical system.

When King Juan Carlos left Spain in August 2020, the Government was behind the decision and supported it. The scandal then became unbearable for La Zarzuela and Felipe VI, backed by the Executive, encouraged his father to leave the country. Don Juan Carlos decided to stay in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), where he has resided ever since. The decision caused an internal crisis in the Executive, because Pablo Iglesias and his group found out from the press and protested to Pedro Sánchez, who had not informed them, in a tough Council of Ministers. This time the Government wants to make it very clear from the beginning that the decision belongs to Felipe VI as head of the King’s House and that the Executive will respect it.

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However, the political problem posed by the return of Don Juan Carlos has not been resolved. The king did not leave Spain because of the judicial advances, but because of the journalistic information that gave details of the scandal. Since then, the data has been increasing and the emeritus king has regularized the opaque money he had twice for an amount of almost five million euros, which has confirmed all the extremes about the management of funds hidden from the Spanish Treasury by part of which he was head of state for 40 years. The decision is very delicate and in the political environment it is seen as very unlikely that Don Juan Carlos will be able to return to reside in La Zarzuela, an official palace paid for with public money.

In any case, the government has changed the tone. Until recently, the Executive, and especially its president, Pedro Sánchez, used harsh words when asked about King Juan Carlos. “I feel the same rejection as the majority of the Spanish citizens of these uncivil behaviors,” the head of government went on to say. In addition, in several interviews he insisted that the emeritus king should “give explanations” for his opaque fortune.

Now the Government, at least its spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, avoids criticism of the conduct of Don Juan Carlos and limits himself to very brief answers in which at all times he transfers the decision to the Casa del Rey and insists on praising the “exemplary and transparency ”by Felipe VI. However, a year after Pedro Sánchez announced legal reforms to increase the transparency of the Casa del Rey, they sleep in a drawer because La Zarzuela and La Moncloa have not promoted them and it does not seem that it is a priority.

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The rest of the parties represented in Congress showed clear differences on the debate on the return of the king emeritus. While the PP, Ciudadanos and Vox openly insisted that Don Juan Carlos should return to Spain if he wishes – that is what is spreading in their surroundings – several parliamentary partners of the Executive are against it. And the one that was expressed in the most forceful way was Unidos Podemos. Both Gerardo Pisarello, as representative of En Comú Podem at the Chamber Table, and Pablo Echenique, spokesman for the United We Can parliamentary group, stressed that the decision of the Swiss prosecutor’s office “does not change anything” and maintained their harsh accusations, referring to Juan Carlos I as “corrupt”.

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Pablo Echenique interpreted that what the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office resolved this Monday was “that there is no evidence” that the money donated by the King of Saudi Arabia to the former head of the Spanish State was directly due to “commissions from the AVE to Mecca”, but not that he denied that Juan Carlos I collected that money, nor that a year earlier the monarch awarded his counterpart from Saudi Arabia the Golden Fleece nor that he later managed to organize an event in Madrid “to whitewash the Saudi theocracy, which is known who has collaborated with the Taliban and with Al Qaeda ”. Echenique called this whole situation “shameful” and concluded that the problem is one of the design of the current monarchical system for which he advocated a thorough review: “Today anyone who occupies the Crown could carry out the same activities as Juan Carlos I with the same impunity as him ”.

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He was not the only spokesman critical of Juan Carlos I. The spokesperson for Compromís, Joan Baldoví, and especially that of ERC, Gabriel Rufián, also spoke in this regard, who also explained that the decision of the Swiss prosecutor does not change the merits of the scandal: “Is it ethical for a king to receive 65 million from a Saudi monarch?” And he proposed that if the monarch finally returns from Abu Dhabi “he goes to live in a 60-square-meter flat in a working-class neighborhood and collects the minimum pension.”

The PP spokesperson in the lower house, Cuca Gamarra, did congratulate herself at the possibility of Juan Carlos I returning to Spain and pointed out: “The emeritus king is a Spanish citizen who can come to his country whenever he wants and under the circumstances that he wants and, therefore, we greatly respect his personal decisions in this regard “. Gamarra also concluded that behind the criticism that the behavior of Juan Carlos I has received in recent times “there is a search for the weakening of the institution” and established a comparison between the lack of freedom that the monarch would have to return and the who blamed the family of a five-year-old girl from Canet del Mar for defending that she can receive 25% of her class hours in Spanish. The Vox spokesman, Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, concluded in the same vein that today “there is no impediment” for Juan Carlos I to return to his country and added: “He may return when he deems it appropriate.” The deputy spokesperson for Ciudadanos, Edmundo Bal, reaffirmed: “There are no precautionary measures, he is a free citizen, I will not be the one to tell him where he has to reside.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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