College or School
Decision Sciences; Political Science
Business Administration: Information Systems and International Affairs
Faculty Research Advisor
Monarchies have been a longstanding form of governance of regions and countries through history. Historically, monarchies ruled over all countries and empires. In the modern world, monarchies are less prevalent. There is a push towards democratization and countries are moving towards republics and democracies. This allows for the people of the nations to have a say in their leaders, representatives and policies in their own country. But even with this global shift, there are few countries that maintain their monarchy.
Spain was historically ruled by a monarchy, with some interruptions in the 20th century. In 1931, the Second Spanish Republic, a republican regime, ruled the country. This allowed for elections where anti-monarchists won the majority vote and this led to the king, Alfonso XIII, left the country. This regime was short lived and ended in 1939. The Spanish Civil War played a large role in the form of government in the country during this time. The Spanish Civil War took place from 1936-1939. In 1936, Francisco Franco began taking control of the Spanish government by way of military actions. During this time, he was the “caudillo” of Spain, which gave him political power and allowed him to exercise it in an authoritarian manner. Francisco Franco was a fascist dictator, ruling Spain with a military regime until his death in 1975.
Franco groomed Juan Carlos during his later years. He skipped a generation in the lineage of the monarchy, hoping that he would prepare Juan Carlos to take over the nation and maintain the conservative views of his regime. When Franco became sick later in life, 1974-1975, Juan Carlos became the head of state. Two days after Franco’s death, Juan Carlos was proclaimed King of Spain and was inaugurated a week later as Juan Carlos I.
When Juan Carlos I came to power, his focus was on tradition, laws and the will of the people. He instituted the constitution monarchy, the form of government that is in power today. He did not always see eye to eye with Franco when looking forward to the future of Spain. Juan Carlos I promised that he would uphold the standards of the country and make changes to laws the Franco put in place, one by one. Juan Carlos I reigned as King of Spain until 2014, when he abdicated his thrown in favor of his son, Felipe VI. He is the only king in Spanish history to abdicate the thrown.
Juan Carlos I’s abdication was not a decision that he made lightly. There was pressure coming from all parts of Spain. Juan Carlos I’s abdication was highly anticipated and something that the Spanish people were requesting for years. His descent from power began in the mid to late 2000s. The main question this research aims to answer is why has the public opinion of the Spanish monarchy declined over time, specifically during the reign of Juan Carlos I? The thesis that this research is looking to prove is that the reason.public opinion declined was because of the people’s attachment to Juan Carlos I. When he began to no longer be a man of the people, Spaniards began to take these negative views of the monarch himself and apply them to the monarchy as an institution.
To outsiders, monarchies seem like an antiquated way of ruling a nation. But the Spaniards have their reasons for wanting to maintain this historical aspect of their country. By understanding why the public opinion decreased during this time period, we can understand if Spaniards are actually changing their views on the monarchy as an institution, or just the monarch himself. Juan Carlos I served Spain well during is 39 years as king, but in the end he needed to abdicate and show the people of.Spain that he was still the man of the people that they always believed him to be.
Eason, Oriana Karina, "Changing Opinions of the Spanish Monarchy in a Modern Spain" (2016). Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) Student Presentations. 9.