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Five years after his first abdication, Juan Carlos I, Spain's king emeritus, has retired from public life. No one knows for sure what that means and what it will consist of, but it's put the always controversial Spanish monarchy back to the fore. The "emeritus", as he's been known to the public these last few years, has gone at 81 years old, alone and through the back door. That the last image of him before his new phase of complete retirement during which he'll never again represent the Spanish crown should be his attendance at a bullfight in Aranjuez is another demonstration of the weakness reached. His loneliness during the day is the confirmation that for some time he's been more of a problem than anything else. His wife, the queen (emeritus), his son, the king, as well as his daughter-in-law, another queen, and other descendants all paid him back for some of the affronts they've received, making the family rupture more evident than ever.

Juan Carlos I's retirement by fits and starts has a lot to do with the deterioration of the institution of the monarchy in Spain, more than five years after CIS decided to remove the question on rating it from its surveys after the last failing grade, in April 2014, of 3.73 out of 10. Since that date, there have only been surveys from private media companies and none from the state's main opinion survey body. That the monarchy isn't recovering is more than clear, as is the fact that the image of Felipe VI has got worse in areas like Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country, Navarra and Asturias. In the Catalan case, irreversibly so since his controversial speech on 3rd October 2017, which has made him the enemy of broad swathes of society.

The way the trial has gone in the Supreme Court and the constant violation of the political prisoners' rights has merely entrenched a situation which is impossible to solve. Likewise, the king has hunkered down, absolutely immovable in all his public speeches, as if the Catalan conflict can only be channelled in the direction of A por ellos ("Go get them") and repression. The deep state has utterly hijacked the situation to the extent that no day goes by without rights being violated. So, the Supreme Court's decision to prevent deputy Jordi Sànchez from being Junts per Catalunya's representative in the meeting with Felipe VI is, without doubt, good news for the monarch, who avoids an uncomfortable photo. But it lacks any legal basis even though recently we've had to get used to everything ending up being defended.

Another example is that of not even allowing Oriol Junqueras to collect his accreditation as an MEP from the Congress. With what aim? To avoid him enjoying parliamentary immunity, which he would get, inevitably, in the moment he went. The legal doctrine is constructed on the fly and it seems to matter little that a month ago he was indeed given permission to go to the lower chamber to formally take his seat and to attend the opening of the Parliament. Now they're telling Junqueras the opposite and matter closed. Too much playing around in muddy waters.