If you abdicate, that should be game over for the monarchy

King Juan Carlos is to abdicate. I love this simple poster design, campaigning for a referendum on the future of the monarchy.
The abdication reminds me of the point I made in last week’s post about MP recalls, where I said:

If the electorate cannot get rid of their representative outside of election time … I think its is only fair that the representatives cannot rid themselves of their electorate either.

I think a similar principle holds for monarchies.  If the hereditary principle means that people cannot choose their head of state, then its inconsistent and wrong for the monarch to be able to choose whether or not they serve as head of state!  If we allow blood-lines to play a part in our constitution then we have to accept whatever gaffe-prone idiot that genetics throws up… and that idiot is stuck with the populous too.
To my mind, a single abication undermines the whole idea of hereditary monarchy.  Any country where that happens should transition to a full democracy with an elected or legislature-appointed head of state (I prefer democracies with a nominal, not executive president but I’m sure there are arguments for and against both models).  I hope that the abdication of the Spanish King triggers a referendum that ends the anacronism.

One Reply to “If you abdicate, that should be game over for the monarchy”

  1. Two counterpoints. 1) This is more a retirement than an abdication, it’s just that there’s no provision for it within the Spanish constitution (which I read most of once, in translation, impressive in many respects).
    2) It was Juan Carlos himself and his actions during the transition to democracy that dragged me away from devout republicanism and into a fairly tolerant constitutional monarchism. Without him, it’s almost certain that Spain would’ve had either a bloodbath civil war (again) or a series of military dictatorships and similar (both when he took power and forced democracy through and during the coup of 1981 he basically proved the strength of a ceremonial role of this nature in certain circumstances).
    But yeah, a referendum on keeping the role or transtioning to something else makes perfect sense, a huge chunk of the modern Spanish population look at the Franco era as ancient history, etc. I suspect the monarchy would stay, with fairly strong support, but the constitution allows for referenda on governance issues so why not?

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