Abdication ‘boosts Spain’s royal popularity’

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iol pic wld Spain King Abdicates~23 AP Spanish Crown Prince Felipe, foreground, salutes during a military parade on Armed Forces day in Madrid. Picture: Andres Kudacki

Madrid -

Popular support for Spain's scandal-hit royal family has climbed since 76-year-old King Juan Carlos announced his abdication a week ago, a survey showed on Monday.

Despite an outbreak of anti-royalist protests following the king's June 2 abdication announcement, most Spaniards favour the monarchy and welcome their 46-year-old future king Felipe VI, said the poll published in conservative daily El Mundo.

Overall, 55.7 percent of those polled in the June 3-5 survey by Sigma Dos supported the institution of the monarchy in Spain, up from 49.9 percent when the same question was posed in January.

Asked whether Prince Felipe would make a good king, 72.9 percent of respondents said “yes”, the telephone poll of 1 000 adults showed.

Even more respondents, 76.9 percent, had a good or very good opinion of the prince, a tall former Olympic yachtsman who is married to glamorous former television news presenter Letizia, 41, with whom he has two daughters, eight-year-old Leonor and seven-year-old Sofia.

The results are likely to be encouraging to the royal family and in particular the departing king, who guided Spain from dictatorship to democracy but slumped in popularity in the scandal-tarnished twilight of his reign.

Many Spaniards were outraged that the king took a luxury elephant-hunting trip to Botswana in 2012 as they struggled to find jobs in a recession and the government teetered on the brink of a debt default.

Then, this year, his younger daughter Cristina was named as a tax crime suspect in connection with her husband Inaki Urdangarin's allegedly corrupt business dealings.

The survey showed 76.4 percent of Spaniards believe the king, dogged by health woes in recent years, was right to abdicate in favour of the prince.

And 65.0 percent now believe the king's 39-year reign was good or very good, up from 41.3 percent in January.

A total 57.5 percent agree the prince could restore the royal family's lost prestige.

Among other royals, Queen Sofia won support of 78.5 percent of those surveyed. Letizia, the future queen, was favoured by 54.3 percent of respondents.

The survey revealed a generation gap on the question of the future of the monarchy, however.

The monarchy won support from 72.6 percent of people aged over 65.

But among those aged 18-29, just 46.1 percent backed the monarchy while 46.3 percent said they would prefer another model.

Spaniards also appear to be frustrated that they have no say on the future of the monarchy, which was restored only after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975.

In a separate survey by Metroscopia published by El Pais on Sunday, 62 percent of Spaniards questioned wanted a referendum on the future of the monarchy at some point. - AFP



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