The King of Spain took the unusual step last night of addressing the nation on television.
We find ourselves at a critical juncture for our existence as a democracy. In these circumstances, I wish to address all Spaniards. We have all witnessed the facts that have taken place in Catalonia, with the illegal declaration of independence as the final goal of the Catalan executive (Generalitat).
For a long time, certain Catalan authorities have repeatedly, consciously and deliberately flouted the Constitution and their own Statute of Autonomy, which is the law that acknowledges, protects and safeguards their historic institutions and their self-government.
With their decisions, they have systematically infringed legally and rightfully approved rules and have shown an unacceptable disloyalty towards the institutions of the State – a State of which, by the way, those authorities are the highest representatives in Catalonia.
They have violated the democratic principles of the rule of law and they have undermined Catalan society’s harmony and coexistence, unfortunately even to the point of driving a wedge within it. Today, the Catalan society is fractured and at loggerheads.
The Catalan authorities have underestimated the affections and feelings of solidarity that have united and will long unite the Spaniards, and with their reckless behavior, they may be even endangering the economic and social stability of Catalonia and of Spain as a whole.
In short, this has been the completion of an unacceptable attempt to take over the historic institutions of Catalonia. Those authorities have unequivocally and categorically placed themselves outside the law and outside democracy. They have tried to break Spain’s unity and national sovereignty, which is the right of all Spanish people to democratically decide on their life together.
Therefore, and in light of this extremely serious situation, that requires everyone’s commitment to pursue common interests, the legitimate powers of the State have the responsibility to guarantee constitutional order and the normal functioning of the institutions, the validity of the rule of law and Catalonia’s self-government, based on the Constitution and their own Statute of Autonomy.
Today I wish to send several messages to all Spaniards and in particular to Catalans. To the citizens of Catalonia —to all of them—, I wish to reiterate that we have been already been living for several decades in a democratic State, which provides constitutional means for anyone to defend their ideas within the law. Because, as we all know, without respect for the law, there is no possible democratic coexistence in peace and freedom, neither in Catalonia, nor in the rest of Spain, nor anywhere in the world. In a democratic and constitutional Spain, they know that they have space to coexist and get along with all their fellow citizens.
I am well aware that in Catalonia there is also great concern and anxiety about the Catalan authorities’ behavior. To those who feel that way, I assure that they are not, nor will they be alone; they have all the support and the solidarity of the rest of the Spanish people, as well as the absolute guarantee given by the rule of law in the defense of their freedom and their rights.
To all Spaniards, who are living through these events full of sadness and distress, I send a message of calm, confidence and hope.
These are troubled times, but we will overcome them. These are very complicated times, but we will get through them. Because we believe in our country and we are proud of what we are. Because our democratic principles are solid and strong. And they are like this because they are based on the wishes of millions and millions of Spaniards who want a peaceful and free coexistence. That is how we have gradually built the Spain in these last decades. And that is how we must go forward, with serenity and determination. On this road, in that improved Spain that we all desire, Catalonia will be there too.
Let me end these words, addressed to all Spaniards, by emphasizing once again the Crown’s firm commitment to the Constitution and to democracy, my own dedication to a climate of understanding and harmony among Spaniards, and my commitment, as King, to the unity and continuity of Spain.
English version by María Luisa Rodríguez Tapia.