The monarchy it still survives, in addition to Spain, in five other EU Member States –Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Luxembourg–. Monarchs are heads of state of so-called parliamentary or constitutional monarchies, and the position passes automatically, as has just happened in the UK, from mothers – and fathers, above all – to sons, a democratic anomaly in its own right. terms.
The monarchies that still survive in the EU have overcome various vicissitudes, as happened to the late queen over the past 70 years Isabel II –The most critical moment was at the time of the death of Diana Spencer, first wife of the new king, Carlos III–.
Contrary to what it might seem, even in modern and supposedly open and free societies, monarchs enjoy relatively good anchorages – above 70% – in the societies in which they have managed to remain embedded, according to research by the Ipsos demoscopic company. .
The one with the least support among them is the Spanish monarchy. There are two relevant reasons for this. On the one hand, because today it has a more than questionable legitimacy of origin, “a dictator and a massacre”, for one of the vice presidents of the Republican Athenaeum, the researcher Pura Sanchez; “a continuation of Francoism”, according to the sociologist of the University of the Basque Country, Imanol Zubero; “the finger of the dictator”, in the words of Isidore MorenoProfessor of Anthropology at the University of Seville.
And, on the other hand, the adventures, so to speak, of the emeritus king of Spain John Charles Iwho abdicated in his son Felipe and lives outside of Spain after having starred in scandals of all kinds.
Ipsos already revealed in 2018 that almost two out of five Spaniards (37%) are in favor of abolishing the monarchy to improve the future of the country compared to only 24% of the population who believe that a possible suspension would be negative – 40% who does not know or does not believe that he would not change anything.
This figure was later raised, in 2021, to 39% by the survey that several independent media did in Spain because the CIS stopped asking about the monarchy years ago. 39.4% of Spaniards would vote for the republic in a referendum compared to 31% who would support the monarchy.
High percentages, compared to other European countries. In Britain only 15% of Britons believe that the end of the Windsor legacy would be positive; in Belgium, 17% of the population that sees the abolition of their monarchy positively; in Sweden, 23% affirm to be in favor of the end of their Crown. In Denmark 82% of the citizenry support the monarchy and 70% in the Netherlands.
Nostalgia and roots
Regardless of this assessment, does an institution such as this, hereditary and that implies a contradiction in its own terms with what implies a real democracy? The sociologist Zubero analyzes that yes, “good times may come for monarchies.” If so, why?
Zubero cites the essay retrotopia of the philosopher Zygmunt Baumann to fasten his argument: “In it, he plays with the idea of nostalgia, of melancholy, of the search for roots”.
“There are -continues Zubero- many people who are doing well in this world without borders, but they are few and it is possible that the phenomena that are going to mark the future work from rooting, from the recovery of origins. There are many uprooted people in the world: a certain embellished past can work. nostalgia For more stable, less uncertain times, monarchies have a certain use value, they give a sense of continuity”.
Zubero adds: “In a very changing world, if they don’t make too many mistakes, like Juan Carlos here, they could play that institution as a bit of an anchor.” Moreno abounds in this idea: “In liquid companies In processes of very rapid change, the existence of the monarchy acts as a reference of continuity, in the face of uncertainty, the static. There is a general phrase in monarchies: the king is dead, long live the king.”
For Sánchez, “what the European monarchies have found is a chameleonic way of adapting to the environment that allows them to survive, which is based on being discreet, not going beyond what they think, not intervening too much, not to bother too much.”
For Moreno, Isabel II fulfilled “an iconic role”, a role that “contradicts intervention in public affairs.” “It’s not by chance [su pervivencia]. His opinion on nothing was unknown: this happens to statues, to vases. He didn’t give an opinion on anything. It is a positive factor to be an inanimate symbol, without a soul, without an opinion. The adoration, the veneration of symbols that are above social groups and the nation itself and do not bother, are located in a sacred area. This relationship of submission to the sacred, the venerable is fundamental [para comprender las monarquías]”.
power and money
“The future -adds Sánchez- can pass through there. The less noise we make, the better, they think. And, meanwhile, they are assimilating into an aristocracy that bases its power on the accumulation of wealth. They become strong, they ensure that other pedigree and are inserted into that aristocracy of money. In that social group there is also a blood privilege: the heirs of the bankers are the new bankers, there we have Patricia Botín. That’s where the future goes from a political point of view: do not disturb and have a free hand for accumulation.”
Certainly, this is a matter of fundamental importance to understand what a monarchy is in the second decade of the 21st century. Carlos III has inherited from his mother Isabel II, in addition, the throne, according to the weekly The Economistan immense heritage – the Duchy of Lancaster alone is valued at around 650 million pounds–. Some of Juan Carlos’s problems have also allegedly had to do with these chrematistic matters: hidden accounts in Switzerland, alleged undeclared income in the Treasury…
“[Las monarquías implican] a series of privileges that go hand in hand with equal rights and obligations. It is an institutional antiquity that comes in handy for those who want to guarantee the status quo economic and social. To the extent that whoever embodies the institution manages to be considered above political struggles, it is a guarantee of maintenance,” analyzes the anthropologist Moreno.
“In Spain – he adds – the monarchy is the cornerstone of the country’s political and economic system: that unitarist vision, heir to Castile and the partisanship that supports this. It is the contradiction that many people have had: I am a republican and also juancarlista. those, including alfonso war [exvicepresidente del Gobierno socialista]They haven’t said anything for a few years. Now they’re asking for the republic? No. The monarchy strengthens the status quo political, economic and social”.
Moreno explains from an anthropological point of view one of the fundamental causes that today that “old” is still standing. “One of the questions is in general, in the plural, that the monarchy enters the sphere of sacredness, not of religiosity, but of the sacred, which is the untouchable, what remains, what is self-legitimized.”
“The institutions – Zubero reflects – have this characteristic: the longer they last, the more they settle and form part of the cultural and social scene where they live from Sticking around gives them increasing legitimacy.”
“What is the function of a monarch?” Moreno asks. “It fulfills -explains the professor- a symbolic function. Some people think that the symbolic is something abstract. This is highly effective, especially if these symbols become sacred or approach the realm of the sacred. Above individuals, even of society, is a guarantee of the status quo. The kings, now and in other historical times, have manna (a word from anthropology used with the kings of Polynesia in anthropological studies, which means a kind of special charm, of pulling on people, of power over wills): monarchies have mana. In high-tech societies it seems that saying this is outrageous, but no. There is this fervor towards certain people, like Isabel II, a lady whose fundamental merit is that she has been able to last “.
Ending monarchies is not a simple matter. “Surely -says Zubero- they will look for other more symbolic anchors: when I was Frank, there was talk of the Pardo light always on: there is something of that; a certain return to religions, to nativism”.
Sánchez considers that a paradigm shift is necessary in these debates between monarchy and republic: “The advent of a republic by itself it does not have to be transformative: if the rights are dead paper, the constitutions are not going to save us from anything. A bourgeois republicanism, at this stage of the film, does not save us from anything. The illustration constructed citizenship and otherness for blacks, poor people, women, a very broad concept of otherness.”
“We would have -adds Sánchez- to be able as a society to build on another social contract, and not so much on a monarchy/republic. I will give an example: Andalusia will not be saved by a republic with the same role of dependency and subalternity, just like the Women were not saved by reason or God: we must start from a completely new social contract that would lead to a republic, because the monarchy is a privilege. But they are not the only ones, there are other privileged sectors”.
“This is another paradigm. It worries me – Sánchez emphasizes the reasoning – in truth this discussion is somewhat reductionist: republic better than monarchy. We must not idealize. Many things have happened in between. Perhaps we have to look for what the traditional republicans were looking for, but by other paths. We are in another historical and global context. In the hands of supranational entities we have put the economy and the market. To speak today of national sovereignty is an entelechy, that is why I speak of other wickers. Hope is the last thing you lose”.