It is a tradition in Spain that every December 24 in the afternoon a message from the King addressed to the Spanish nation as a whole is transmitted. Before Juan Carlos I and now Felipe VI, one more year the televisions of the whole country tuned in the afternoon the awaited speech of his majesty. As usual, the symbolism and details have been analyzed by all and sundry. However, the complicated year that 2022 has meant for Spaniards has not gone unnoticed by Felipe VI, who beyond the symbolism has materialized in words a message appropriate to the times we live in.
The king has highlighted the great adversities that Europe has had to face: the crisis generated by the COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Both events, the monarch said, have caused great commotion and uncertainty in society. His Majesty warned that we cannot ignore the seriousness of these problems, but neither should we give up the hope that things can change and improve. In this sense, he called on Spaniards to reaffirm their confidence as a nation, citing the difficulties that Spain has already overcome. The crisis of 2008 or the worst figures of deaths due to the pandemic have been left behind. But to overcome the crises in which the country currently finds itself, Felipe VI has called for a reaffirmation of the Spaniards’ greater commitment to their democracy. According to his majesty, the democracies of the world are exposed to many risks that are not new, but he wanted to dwell on some in particular as the division of society, the deterioration of coexistence and the erosion of institutions.
The institutional deterioration Spain is going through
His Majesty said that a divided country or society does not advance. It neither progresses nor solves its problems well. It does not generate confidence. On the other hand, union, on the contrary, strengthens them. To refer to the latter, he referred to the 1978 Constitution, the symbol of concord among Spaniards and which represents national union as a commitment to the future, diversity and concord to build the democracy that we still are today.
The constitutional spirit has been threatened since its birth and has always known how to overcome adversity, as Felipe VI explained. It is no coincidence that this danger is the focus of the Christmas speech in the year 2022. Later on, His Majesty explicitly identified institutional erosion as the underlying problem that threatens democracy in Spain. This identification by the King of Spain is appropriate, and many Spaniards are reminded of what kind of institutional erosion we have been exposed to in the last four years. The current socialist coalition government has opted for electoral survival in order to save the legislature. It has entrusted itself to pro-independence partners who divide Spaniards into first and second class citizens. They have agreed to laws that pit men and women against each other and have branded the opposition as “extreme right” and “xenophobes”.
The latest outrage of the government has been a red line that goes beyond any program within democratic limits: the assault on the judiciary. The government tried to reform the method of electing the judges of the General Council of the Judiciary, giving the government the de facto power to place almost all the judges of the body. This attack against the division of powers has been built on the basis of sowing division among Spaniards, of responding to electoral interests and of commending themselves to those who seek to destroy the unity of Spain.
Fortunately for Spaniards, the royal house is an institution that maintains its rectitude and composure in the face of the lack of sanity of politicians. The constitution will prevail around the unity that King Felipe VI is guiding today. Finally, as is also traditional, his majesty’s message concluded in the three regional languages spoken by Spaniards: “Eguberri on. Bon Nadal. Boas festas.”