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Monarchy or Republic? Spanish king questioned as universities hold symbolic votes

Catalan students organize unofficial referendums after thousands cast ballots in Madrid


04 December 2018 12:37 PM


ACN | Barcelona

As the Spanish Constitution celebrates its 40th anniversary, thousands of students are taking part in unofficial votes to have their say on what was not open for discussion in the referendum on December 6, 1978: should Spain be a monarchy or a republic?

Students at UB and UPF, two of Barcelona’s main universities, held symbolic votes on Tuesday, following an initiative that originated in Madrid’s Autonomous University (UAM). Students at Catalonia’s UPC will have their say on Wednesday.

Around a million people—including students, professors, lecturers and non-teaching staff—are summoned to take part in the unofficial votes, which have been called by students in more than half of Spain’s 50 public universities.

  • "Society is not happy with the monarchy but we’re being ignored"

    Marta Casanova · UAM student

The first vote, held at UAM last Thursday, saw 7,303 ballots cast, with most of them (6,111) rejecting the monarchy. Out of those who opposed to the king, 6,038 also voted in favor of starting a constitutional process.

"Society is not happy with the monarchy but we’re being ignored," said Marta Casanova, a spokesperson for the referendum organizers.

Casanova criticizes Spain’s main public pollster, the CIS, for its decision to stop asking citizens their opinion on the monarchy more than three years ago. The last time it did, in 2015, the monarchy got a 4.34 approval rating on a scale of 0-10.

A highly unpopular figure in Catalonia, a recent survey by the Center of Opinion Studies (CEO) found that almost 80% of Catalans disapprove of King Felipe. On a scale of 10, some 60% of those surveyed gave him a 0.

President proposes suspending king's inviolability

As a measure to quell criticism, Spain’s president Pedro Sánchez opened the door to a constitutional reform that would suspend the king’s inviolability and derogate Article 56.3, which currently states that the monarch "is not subject to responsibility."

Sánchez was confident that Felipe VI would support the constitutional reform, which could serve as a measure to begin a discussion on "broken and damaged consensus."