Monday, June 2, 2014

Spain: Franco's heir abdicates

Appointment of Mr. Borbón as heir of dictator Franco
In yet another clear sign of the collapse of the post-Fascist regime in Spain, Franco's heir as chief of the residual Spanish Empire, Juan Carlos Borbón Borbón, resigned today.

The controversial monarch, heir of a long line of aristocrats rooted in the Crown of Navarre, began his life "accidentally" murdering his own brother with a gun. Later he would be appointed by Fascist dictator F. Franco as his heir, ascending to the throne upon the death of the mini-general in 1975. 

He was quite apparently involved in the coup attempt of 1981, where it is believed by many that he was called by the codename "white elephant". The coup, which had been agreed by nearly all political factions intended to stop the process of decentralization of the state and was clearly successful, if not in form, at least in effects. 

However, thanks to the institutional propaganda machinery, he was presented as some sort of "savior" of democracy, illusion that managed to achieve some success and made the figure of the monarch relatively popular. 

Showing the middle finger to Basque protesters
But the many privileges and concealment of the royal family, the corruption scandal affecting his daughter (Noos affair) and his murdering of an elephant in Botswana recently have damaged his image and that of the unelected monarchy, an institution seen with great distrust by many today. On top of those affairs, it is every day more impossible to conceal the collaboration of the crowned guy with Fascism and the 1981 coup, thanks to the Internet. 

So as De Lampedusa famously wrote: "let's change something so nothing changes". And so the monarch has abdicated in his old age in favor of his son Felipe, 46, who surely enjoys a less corrupt and fascist image, being even slightly rebellious in his young age and being married with a plebeian. 

The move obviously attempts to perpetuate the monarchy in a time in which, as the undemocratic fossil it is, it is being challenged more and more by a population which clearly demands true democracy and not this farce, so "well tied" in the infamous words of then ailing dictator Franco. 

Royal murder of an elephant

Five centuries of Bourbons

Jeanne III of Navarre
The Bourbon dynasty began with good footing in the person of Jean III of Navarre, who revitalized Basque and Gascon culture and promoted protestantism. She married Antoine of Bourbon, a French aristocrat who also favored the Huguenot cause. Their son Henry III of Navarre would eventually become heir of the French Crown and tactically adopted Catholicism in order to end the Wars of Religion ("Paris is well worth a mass"). Better known as Henry IV of France, his tolerant and illustrated reign enjoyed the favor of the people and he came to be known as "the good king", what seems to be an exception. 

His heirs however came under the clout of Machiavellian Catholic cardinals Mazarine and Richelieu, returning France to Catholic Fundamentalism and causing new bloody religious conflicts. This totalitarian regime, known as Absolutism, knew its apogee under Louis XIV, who infamously said "the state is me". 

It was under his rule that the Bourbons would get the inheritance of the Crown of Castile and Aragon, triggering the War of Spanish Succession. It was also then when Spain was first organized as a unitary state, abolishing the self-rule of the states of the Crown of Aragon and officially using the term "king of Spain" for the first time ever. 

Naturally all that totalitarianism would cause trouble and decades after the Sun King, the heads of his descendants would roll on baskets in the center of Paris. In spite of the Restoration attempt the Bourbons lost control of France to the Republic. 

Further South, the Bourbons of Madrid also experienced troubles in the 19th century, being forced abdicate in favor of a new dynasty. However the Italian monarch could not consolidate the throne either and a Republic was installed. The bourgeois Republic was fraught with contradictions (federalism vs centralism mostly) and eventually collapsed as well, resulting in the restoration of the Bourbons in the person of Alfonso XII. 

But this regime dug its own grave by imposing military dictatorship at the beginning of the 20th century, and the Republic was installed again in 1931 by popular demand. In 1936 the Republic was attacked by a military coup that performed the most horrible acts of democide on ideological grounds: everyone suspect of leftism was irregularly executed or sent to deadly forced work. 

The dictator and his heir
The worst repression fell over the land, coupled with hunger and desperation. Upon the defeat of Hitler in 1945 there was some hope that the Fascist regime in Madrid would collapse but the United States backed the dictatorship and it lasted for thirty terrible years more.

Franco planned well what would come after him and infamously declared in his deathbed that "I leave everything tied and well tied". The constitutional monarchy that succeeded him was therefore his legacy and as such could not but disappoint. 

After 39 years, now the regime attempts some cosmetic surgery in a quite desperate attempt to perpetuate itself. We'll see if it has any effect at all because, as many say, if the Bourbon wants to be chief of state, let him run in elections.

Sources: Diagonal, Naiz Info (photos).


  1. In the event of a referendum on abolishing the monarchy, take note of what scuttled that in Australia. In Australia there was no consensus over what to replace the monarch with. Direct elections? Indirect? Nothing? A house divided...

    1. Don't worry, the Old Guard (twin party) is still powerful enough for that not happening any time soon (referendum? are you kidding me?). But things are changing for sure.


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