King warns Spain risks erosion of institutions and coexistence after top judges' replacement row

Felipe appeals for responsibility on Spanish institutions shortly after Constitutional Court clash with legislative

King Felipe VI of Spain (by Pol Solà)
King Felipe VI of Spain (by Pol Solà) / ACN
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

December 24, 2022 09:18 PM

King Felipe has warned that Spain is risking the erosion of its institutions and the coexistence of its society during his annual Christmas speech on Saturday evening.

The Spanish monarchy did not explicitly refer to the recent row involving the replacement of the Constitutional Court judges whose mandates have been expired for months, but may have implicitly done, as he said that "division makes democracies weaker" and prevents societies from progressing, adding that Spain is exposed to this risk.

The appointment of new magistrates has been stuck for months due to a lack of agreement between the progressive and the conservative factions of the institution regulating the judiciary (CGPJ) and between the government and opposition – last week, the Spanish congress passed a law to ease the appointment of new judges in order to find a way out of the current deadlock, but the Constitutional Court halted it before finishing its parliamentary procedures, with some magistrates placing key votes affecting themselves in order to avoid being replaced.

While King Felipe did not explicitly mention these developments, he said that Spain and the rest of democracies in the world are risking not only division, but also "the erosion of institutions" and "the damage of coexistence."

With some mandates of the Constitutional Court expired and the leadership of CGPJ interim after the lack of understanding to replace it between the Socialists – leading the government – and the conservatives – heading the opposition –, the monarch said that "institutions need to be strengthened."

He added that they need to be solid and "protect citizens' interests and assist their concerns."

For him, institutions have to exercise their functions "respecting the Constitution and laws."

Accorsding to him, the "principles and pillars" from which the Carta Magna was approved in 1978, only three years after dictator Francisco Franco died, "should not weaken or be forgotten."

"Spaniards need to keep on deciding their future and their destiny together."

Therefore, the head of the Bourbon family appealed for "doing an exercise of responsibility and reflect in a constructive way about the consequences of ignoring these risks."

Backing Ukraine and sending regards to its residents refugeed in Spain

During his speech, Felipe also backed Ukraine in its war with Russia, and sent "regards and affection" to the Ukrainians who have settled in Spain in the past year – only in Catalonia, around 20,000 people have arrived fleeing the war.

He also acknowledged the "sacrifices" made by families in the country while coping with the economic effects of the conflict, referring to the increase of prices.

King Felipe also pointed out the fact that Spain will host the rotatory presidency of the European Council during the second half of 2023.