Former absent king as Spain celebrates anniversary of failed coup

MADRID – King Felipe VI, Spanish lawmakers and others celebrate the 40th anniversary of a paramilitary coup attempt that failed to derail the country’s nonviolent transition to democracy, but that anniversary was overshadowed by the absence of a former monarch now plagued by monetary scandals.

King Emeritus Juan Carlos I was not invited to tuesday’s event in the same construction of the parliament in the center of Madrid that, in 1981, went through more than a hundred civilian guards at gunpoint, holding as a hostage all the reduced space of parliament.

The ceremony, organized through President Meritxell Batet, also boycotted through seven of the 17 political teams of parliament, adding Basque and Catalan nationalist parties that oppose any involvement of the Royal House in the event.

Juan Carlos originally anointed General Francisco Franco through the dictator as his successor to the head of Spain, but historians have concluded that the monarch played a decisive role in the consolidation of Spanish democracy and, in particular, in the frustration of the 1981 uprising led by supporters of a return to Francoism.

The coup was declared unsuccessful when the king gave the impression on television to help the new democratic government. Before its televised speech, the country held its breath 18 hours of ordeal in Parliament.

In the grip of a series of scandals and declining popularity, Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 and retired from public life in 2019. Last year, he moved to the United Arab Emirates just as new revelations of his monetary crimes emerged and official investigations opened in Switzerland and Spain.

Investigations have caused unrest within the Socialist-led left-wing coalition government, giving ammunition to those in need of the abolition of the monarchy.

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