“40 years ago Spain experienced an attack on its democratic system of extraordinary gravity“, declared King Felipe VI, son of Juan Carlos, during a ceremony organized in the Chamber of Deputies in the presence in particular of the head of government, the Socialist Pedro Sánchez.
A ceremony whose great absentee will have been Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014 and went into exile in August in the United Arab Emirates as suspicions grew about the opaque origin of his fortune.
The former sovereign, who last year paid nearly 680,000 euros to the Spanish tax authorities in an attempt to avoid prosecution for money laundering, is the subject of a total of three judicial investigations.
Limited offer. 2 months for 1 € without commitment
The image of Lieutenant-Colonel of the Civil Guard Antonio Tejero Molina entering on February 23, 1981, pistol in hand, in the precincts of the Cortes (lower house of Parliament) at the head of nearly 200 of his men remained in the story.
Less than six years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, Spain was then in the process of democratization that these soldiers wanted to stop.
But from the Zarzuela Palace, Juan Carlos I, 43 years old, deploys all his energy to defeat this coup, calling one by one the generals commanding the various military regions of the country and delivering a solemn address to the television, wearing his uniform of captain general of the armed forces.
“The Crown, symbol of the permanence and unity of the homeland, cannot in any way tolerate the actions or attitudes of people who claim to interrupt by force the democratic process“, he declares then.
Tejero and his men will finally agree to surrender on February 24 at midday and release the deputies and ministers they were holding hostage.
For the daily El Mundo, the absence of Juan Carlos, exiled “because of his condemnable errors, must not tarnish the brilliant role he played while commemorating his televised address (…) He thus stopped the putsch and democracy came out of it strengthened until it was comparable to the best of the West“.
A role to which Felipe VI, a direct witness of this historic night when he was only 13 years old, paid tribute on Tuesday.
“His firmness and authority were decisive for the defense and the triumph of democracy.“, insisted the sovereign, who distanced himself from his father by renouncing his inheritance in March and withdrawing his annual compensation, estimated at nearly 200,000 euros.
– Democracy in debate –
Forty years after this failed coup, democracy and Spanish institutions are still the subject of debate.
Number three in the government, the leader of the radical left Podemos party, Pablo Iglesias, recently stirred up controversy by claiming that it does not exist in Spain “a situation of full political and democratic normality“.
In addition, several small parties represented in the Chamber of Deputies, such as the separatist parties Gauche Républicaine de Catalogne and Ensemble pour la Catalogne, decided to boycott the ceremony due to the presence of King Felipe VI.
In a manifesto, these formations affirmed that Spain does not “cannot be fully considered as a democracy (…) as long as the Spanish state relies on the same political, judicial, police and monarchical structures as 40 years ago“.
“These days we see social discontent, protest and weariness in the streets over these democratic shortcomings.“, they added in reference to the violent demonstrations which shake in the first place Barcelona since the imprisonment last Tuesday of the rapper Pablo Hasél for”apology for terrorism“in tweets.
Lthe keys to power