40 years since the failed coup d'état
Politics 23/02/2021

Felipe VI praises father's "firmness and authority" on failed coup anniversary in Spanish Parliament

The independence movement stands the king up and demands all documents from 40 years ago be declassified

4 min
Felipe VI during the act of anniversary of the 40th anniversary of the failed coup d'état of 23-F to Congress .

MadridAfter months of silence about his father, Felipe VI mentioned him again this Tuesday in the Spanish Parliament. And with a message of praise after his escape to Abu Dhabi besieged by corruption scandals. He has done so during the ceremony for the 40th anniversary of the failed Feb 23 coup in the Spanish Parliament, criticised by pro-independence parties and the PNV - who have stood up the head of state - because it is the commemoration of a coup, even if it was failed. The current monarch recalled that as a child he witnessed a "historic episode", in which "the firmness and authority" of his father "were decisive for the defence and triumph of democracy".

"Before that unacceptable fracture of the legitimate and legal democratic order, King Juan Carlos I assumed as head of state his responsibility and commitment to the Constitution to take, and I quote, all necessary measures to maintain the constitutional order within the current legality," he said, assuring that that day he learned "the immense and incalculable value that freedom has for the Spanish people".

He also made a call to "protect" democracy because in his opinion there are "risks that could threaten it". In the same sense, the president of the Congress, Meritxell Batet, said that "the danger is in the delegitimisation and instrumentalisation of democratic institutions themselves to empty their fundamental contents. In this sense, she also applauded the decisive "reaction" by public institutions, "led by His Majesty King Juan Carlos", who assumed "the defence of democracy in the face of a coup threat and effectively used their constitutional capacities to defeat the coup perpetrators".

Half-hour ceremony and cheers for the king

There was a strong police presence around parliament for Felipe's visit during what was a very unusual commemoration that has lasted only half an hour and has begun at the Puerta de los leones with cheers to the king spurred by deputies of Vox. The attention has focused mainly on what the monarch has said of his father, Juan Carlos I, who was the real protagonist of a long hour of uncertainty still with many shadows. For those who have become fierce defenders of the Transition, the PSOE, the PP, Ciudadanos and Vox, the act was a tribute to the decisive push to Spanish democracy. The PP spokeswoman, Cuca Gamarra, has vindicated the "role" of the king emeritus. On the other hand, for the critics - increasingly present in Congress - of the 1978 regime, Feb 23 represented nothing more than the "whitewashing of the monarchy".

That is why all the pro-independence parties in Congress, as well as the PNV, did not attend the event. Unidas Podemos has done so as a member of the coalition government, but has already warned that the 40 years of the failed coup "cannot be used to cleanse the king or whitewash the neo-Francoism that exists," in the words of Unidas Podemos's Gerardo Pisarello. "I want to remind you that this attempted coup had a very clear objective: to demonstrate that the threat of Franco's involution was alive and frighten citizens so that they would not ask for more democracy," he said at a press conference from the lower house.

Shortly before, representatives of ERC, Junts per Catalunya, the CUP, the PDECat, EH Bildu and BNG have read a joint manifesto in which they committed to "the democratic rupture with the regime of 78" because it is "the lock that prevents the Catalan, Basque and Galician citizens, as well as the popular classes of the State, move towards a democratic scenario based on national freedom and social justice". All of them have registered a joint initiative to demand that, 40 years after the failed coup, "every document, every recording, every significant piece of information that is in the hands of the State and that brings light and stenographers to the real events that led to the coup d'état on Feb 23".

"The photo of the collapse of a regime".

The spokesman for ERC in the Spanish Parliament, Gabriel Rufián, has been convinced that if "now we know perfectly well the role of M. Rajoy in the whole corrupt plot of the PP surely very soon we will also know the real role of the Royal House on 23-F, which is already known in fact". In turn, JxCat member of the Spanish parliament Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas demanded that the head of state at the time, Juan Carlos I, answer for the facts. From the CUP, Mireia Vehí has assured that today "a photo of the collapse of a regime" was taken because "a tribute to the king of Spain and the founding myth of a state like the Spanish state, based on corruption, was being paid". Finally, the deputy Genís Boadella, of the PDECat, wondered how "a so-called democratic state" can celebrate a coup d'état and recalled that it was not done 10 or 20 years ago, but now what they want is to "contribute to a state operation to whitewash it".

MPs for BNG, la CUP, ERC, JxCat, EH Bildu i el PDECat reading the joint manifesto against the commemoration of the failed coup

The PNV has wanted to dissociate itself from the manifesto as it does not agree with "the language or some statements because it is a black and white statement", but it has confirmed its absence because it is "disconcerting" that a coup d'état is commemorated. It was precisely with these words ("commemorate the coup") that yesterday the Royal household announced the presence of Felipe VI in Congress, in a tweet that did not change until after about six hours. "Parliamentary groups' opinion was not taken into account and we also do not know the texts that will be read, as it is not a regulated or usual act," said the spokesman of the PNV, Aitor Esteban.