"Royal shame" was the headline this Wednesday in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany's leading newspaper and one of the most prestigious in the world, in reference to the succession of scandals surrounding the Spanish monarchy and which have turned the institution into a kind of septic tank, from whose depths anything could emerge. More than six years after the abdication of Juan Carlos I - a step that some thought naively would be an essential firewall, allowing the spirit of "the king is dead, long live the king" to take hold and Felipe to take the throne as pleasantly as possible - the Spanish monarchy is in a crisis of impossible solution, sustained by the elites of political parties addicted to the regime, and having lost the affection of the people.
After it became known on Tuesday that the current king's sisters, Elena - third in line of succession to the crown - and Cristina, had travelled to the United Arab Emirates in February to visit their father, who fled there from Spain on 3rd August 2020, and that they took the opportunity to be vaccinated against coronavirus, in an action that illustrates the frivolity of the institution towards the suffering of Spanish society, we subsequently learned new information on the luxury health tourist trip, which, incidentally, was not without cost. The bill for the trip abroad with three security staff for seven days was picked up by the government of Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias - well, not really by them, but by all Spaniards - and adds up to the not inconsiderable sum of 33,600 euros. The two princesses say in a statement of apology that they were offered the chance to get vaccinated and they accepted it, although "if it were not for this circumstance, we would have accessed our scheduled vaccination in Spain, when our turn came up."
One sometimes gets the impression that all this cannot be a coincidence, as it is not possible that the image of Spain and the monarchy could deteriorate further. And yet, after a few hours it is seen that it is indeed possible. As if Juan Carlos I had not simply ceased to be at the head of the institution, but rather, his ultimate objective had been to completely destroy it even as Felipe VI made efforts to glorify his father's role in the thwarting of the 23-F coup in the search for some sort of armistice, while the king emeritus goes on enjoying his luxurious solitude after a resignation he did not want, in that crown and state operation which condemned the old king to save the new king.
He will say nothing, but Pedro Sánchez owes an explanation on how far he is willing to accept the degradation of the institution, as all the firewalls raised so far have been surpassed. The Spanish institutional crisis has its origins and detonator in Catalonia, with that arrogant attitude to pro-independence demands, first expressed in 2012, when Juan Carlos I as his only response to the issue criticized the Artur Mas government for "encouraging dissensions and pursuing mirages", and thus a dismissive attitude towards the Catalan authorities was established in the monarchy. In that climate, the speakers of the Catalan Parliament were not received as required to communicate the appointment of the president of the Generalitat, and then came a final break with the unprecedented speech by Felipe VI on October 3rd, 2017.
But the Spanish crisis also affects Catalonia in the loss of fundamental rights, democratic quality, economic suffocation, persecution of dissent and repression. The Sánchez government presented itself as an opportunity to put an end to some of these deficits and has ended up becoming a spineless, powerless and submissive executive with a prime minister who is concerned only with himself and overwhelmed by the territorial crisis and the demands of Catalonia. And to complete the report of the day, former police commissioner Villarejo has been released from Estremera prison and he announces to us that the testimonies he will give from now on will be very interesting.
Take a look at the press from all around Europe and you will see that we truly live on another planet. It would be good if the protest by businesspeople against the Catalan government to be held this Thursday in Barcelona were carried on by its leaders at the SEAT auto plant on Friday, where Felipe VI and Pedro Sánchez will be present. That would be the most appropriate approach.