King of Spain calls on institutions to stick to given constitutional role in Christmas speech

Felipe VI urges to avoid 'grounds for discord,' amid amnesty law row between parties and judiciary

Princess Sofia, Princess Leonor, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia during the ceremony on October 31, 2023
Princess Sofia, Princess Leonor, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia during the ceremony on October 31, 2023 / Spanish Royal House
Guifré Jordan

Guifré Jordan | @enGuifre | Barcelona

December 24, 2023 09:12 PM

The King of Spain called on each of the main Spanish institutions to stick to their given roles in the Constitution.

He made these remarks on Sunday evening, during his traditional televised Christmas speech, where he said that "every institution has to set itself in the place where they constitutionally belong to, and exercise the functions that have been conferred to them."

Felipe VI also urged the society to avoid "grounds for discord."

"This is a moral duty that we all have, we cannot afford it."

Amnesty law contentious issue

The monarch did not explicitly comment on the current political context, which includes increasing confrontation and tensions between the Spanish left-leaning government and the right-wing opposition parties –they flatly rejected the agreements to which the Socialists reached especially with the Catalan pro-independence parties in exchange for their key support in staying in power after the July 23 Spanish election.

One especially contentious issue is the amnesty law agreed between the Socialists and both Esquerra and Junts parties, referring to anyone facing legal cases stemming from the 2010s Catalan pro-independence push, including former president Carles Puigdemont, who has been in exile ever since the aftermath of the 2017 referendum.

The right-wing parties have been starkly against an amnesty and hosted several demonstrations in the past few months –also, Spain's top judicial authority approved a declaration against the future law on November 6, when it was not even filed in Congress.

The Spanish government has been accused of interfering the judiciary with an amnesty, while the judges have also been accused of meddling in the legislative power.

"Outside the constitution there are no freedoms but imposition"

While Felipe VI made no mention of the debate, he said: "We have to respect the other institutions as they exercise their powers."

The vast majority of his speech covered the significance of the 1978 Spanish constitution, which has been in the spotlight in the past few decades by the majority of Catalan parties and some younger generations across Spain.

"Outside the respect for the constitution there is no possible democracy or coexistence. There are no freedoms but imposition. There is no law but arbitrariness. There is no Spain in peace and freedom."

According to him, the Carta Magna is the "meeting place" of all Spaniards and it has helped "overcome division" in the past. "It has been the biggest political success of our recent history."

The King also briefly showed his "concern" about topics such as the "economic and social hardship," as well as employment, health, the quality of education, the prices and the basic services.

Also, he mentioned the problems young people have with housing, and "the unacceptable violence against women."