A year waiting (unsuccessfully) for reforms in the monarchy

All attempts in Parliament have either been defeated or have not been submitted

3 min
The president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sanchez, and the head of state, Felipe VI, to Marivent

MadridA year ago, the flight of Juan Carlos I, cornered by his corruption, even brought the PSOE - a party that closes ranks with the architecture of 78 - to open the door to reforms that "modernise" the Crown and adapt it to the Spain of the 21st century, in the words of the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez. Despite the promises, more than 365 days later, the ex king continues his stay in Abu Dhabi while the Prosecutor's Office investigates his shady activities, and nothing has changed to reverse the levels of privilege and opacity enjoyed by the monarchy, in a crisis of prestige that for now has to be measured from the realm of feelings, because the CIS continues without asking about the Crown since April 2015.


Does the absence of accountability have to protect private acts?

How far the inviolability - not being able to be judged - of the king goes is one of the main debates that the Juan Carlos affair has raised. Except for PP and Vox, the rest of the parties have publicly criticised the concealment of the ex king's assets, which is so far the only thing he himself has acknowledged with the two regularisations in the Treasury. The spokesman for Cs, Edmundo Bal, said Friday in an interview with Europa Press that he sees with good eyes the development of a law that determines the scope of inviolability and leave out the non-endorsed acts - the responsibility for any signature by the king in the exercise of his functions is, in reality, that of the president of the government, the competent minister or the presidency of Parliament.

This is precisely the idea that Más País and Compromís put forward in a bill in Parliament that did not even get to be processed and that Unidas Podemos also wants to put on the table. Months ago the PSOE's partner in government promised to take their proposal to the lower house and has not yet done so to avoid a clash with the socialists and because of the context of the pandemic. A priori, it would not be necessary to reform the Constitution because Article 56.3 is generic on inviolability. Therefore, this aspect could be maintained and developed in a specific law. The jurisprudence has pronounced itself and has included in the absence of responsibility any act of the Head of State, although some legal voices consider that drawing up a rule that separates the endorsed acts from the private ones would leave the judicial doctrine in a dead letter.


The budget of the monarchy is unknown and not audited

The judicial approach is one of the ways that the Juan Carlos case has shown to be more urgent, despite the fact that the PSOE has been cooling the possibility of touching inviolability. Another of the legs is transparency, which Sánchez spoke again of on Tuesday from the Palace of Marivent. The monarchy is not subject to the law of transparency nor to the law of the Court of Auditors, which is responsible for auditing the public sector of the State.

The only thing that is known is that the royal house has an annual allocation of the general state budget of about eight million euros and, since the arrival of Felipe VI, it is published to what it is destined. However, several ministries devote resources - human and economic - to the institution that are not accounted for and that raise by far the real figure of the cost of the monarchy for the coffers of the State. While waiting for the PSOE and the PP to agree to open a debate -in the Moncloa they are convinced that the main opposition party is needed to address any issue related to the Crown-, another possibility that has not occurred this last year is that the institution regulates itself with some measure for the benefit of transparency.

Parliamentary control

The table of Parliament, an impassable wall

The PSOE has not had any intention to debate or politically investigate from Parliament the activities of Juan Carlos, not even those after his abdication, which be outside inviolability. The pro-sovereignty groups and Unidas Podemos have presented multiple initiatives over the last few months, but they have always met with a veto from the lower house, where the Socialists have joined forces with the PP and Vox, arguing that it is not the role of the lower house to control the monarchy.