Read in Catalan

The Spanish edition of The New York Times has today published an opinion column calling for a referendum on the Spanish monarchy. The author starts by noting that "referendums" on the subject are already being organised at a number of Spanish universities and concludes that Felipe VI should accept the challenge.

According to the article, by the writer and journalist David Jiménez, "the monarchy's defenders, including the political parties which support it, see the consultations as an attack at the heart of the Spanish state". "In reality, it would do well to accept the challenge: the monarchy needs a referendum to guarantee its continuation over the long term and to renew its democratic legitimacy," it continues.

Jiménez admits that it's difficult to know how much support Felipe VI enjoys among the Spanish people, although "[he is] seen by his supporters as a figure of stability and unity at a time of political fragmentation and independence challenges in Catalonia and the Basque Country". "The Centre for Sociological Research, the public body entrusted with taking the country's social pulse, stopped asking about the monarchy in 2015, after Juan Carlos I's scandals ruined his popularity," he notes.

The articles says that "the years are long gone in which the monarchy enjoyed an almost perfect idyll with the public, the royal family had an spotless reputation and the debate over Spain's form of government was on the political margins". And he criticises the harm that those close monarch ended up causing: "the press hid [Juan Carlos'] excesses, the politicians looked the other way and the economic elite feted him in the search for privileges and influence, creating a protective wall which was as fawning as it was fictitious".

The writer concludes that, if the Spanish monarchy intends to survive, it can only do so through a referendum.