How unpopular is the Spanish crown in Catalonia?

7 out of 10 would prefer a republic, with younger generations even more clearly anti-monarchy

An image of the Spanish king Felipe VI being burned at a protest in 2018 (by Gemma Aleman)
An image of the Spanish king Felipe VI being burned at a protest in 2018 (by Gemma Aleman) / ACN

Scarlett Reiners and Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

March 27, 2021 03:14 PM

It is hard to find a passionate monarchist in Catalonia and has become increasingly harder over the past few years, while those in favor of the crown will undoubtedly be even rarer in the future. This is, at least, what the latest polls seem to suggest. 

The Catalan government-funded CEO public opinion survey published in October 2020 showed that 71.1% of participants were republican, while only 14.5% were monarchists.

And the gap between the two will probably grow even more in the coming years: the younger generations are increasingly less supportive of having a king. Only one in 10 of those in the 18 to 34 age ranges would like a king or queen, with this figure doubling for senior citizens.

Most voters are republican - therefore, it is curious that while most parties’ stance on the issue matches the standpoint of their voters, this is not the case with the Socialists as they officially defend the Spanish royal family.

It has been the case forever that supporting Catalan independence equals being republican - but, on the other hand, not being independentist does not necessarily mean supporting the crown. 

The CEO poll also shows that the crown is by far the most hated institution in Catalonia, much more than political parties, the army or the church. In fact, when asked to rate it out of 10, 52.9% of interviewees gave it a score of 0.

Outdated, obsolete, anti-democratic, among arguments against crown

Catalan News recently spoke to several people in Barcelona on their thoughts about the crown and most of them expressed that they opposed it. One reason given for this is that it is outdated, with someone saying: “Not only the Spanish monarchy, but every monarchy is a question of the past.”

In a society that already has a democratically elected parliament and president, many people argued that the monarchy “is obsolete”. Someone told Catalan News: “We pay a lot for them to be maintained and they do nothing, they don’t even do politics at all”. 

It seemed that many people were against the concept of monarchical rule in general, calling it anti-democratic, with someone telling Catalan News, “It is something that we should abolish because it doesn’t make any sense in a democratic society”. A man who identified as a republican also said to Catalan News: “We are all equal, we should govern ourselves¨.

As well as that, people referenced the numerous scandals that the Spanish monarchy has been involved in over the years: “They have a terrible reputation and they have been judicially prosecuted. It’s horrible”, said one interviewee. 

The previous king, Juan Carlos, has faced several accusations of misconduct. In February he paid over €4 million to the tax office for undeclared income. His popularity plummeted across recession-hit Spain in 2012 when he went on an elephant-hunting trip in Botswana - referencing this scandal, a child Catalan News spoke to said: “I don’t like that the king hunts elephants! Poor elephants, they are free animals, they haven’t done anything to him.”

However, this outlet did also find people who were overall quite apathetic about the monarchy. For instance, someone commented: “I think that here, it’s a bit necessary, I wish it wasn’t, but I’m not very against it”. Someone else explained their indifference by saying: “I think it doesn’t really affect people’s normal lives”.