The Spanish congress has rejected removing King Felipe’s immunity with backing from the Socialists, the People’s Party, Ciudadanos and far-right Vox. A total of 276 MPs sided against the initiative proposed by Catalan pro-independence ERC, which aimed to enable putting Spain’s head of state on trial while in office if necessary. Meanwhile, 74 supported the motion, including pro-independence JxCat, CUP and PDeCAT, as well as the Basque forces PNB and Bildu, and left-wing parties Podemos, Más País and Compromís.

The bill requested to “completely remove from the legal framework, given the democratic principle, all the privileges of inviolability and irresponsibility that can protect criminal or irregular behaviors of the head of state, the Royal House and any member of the crown.” Parties in favor of putting an end to such privileges are skeptical about the role that the then king, Juan Carlos, played during the 23 February 1981 coup d’etat.

CUP and JxCat pointed out the fact that the Socialists and Vox chose the same side in the debate, while Unidas Podemos’ parliamentary president, Catalan MP Jaume Asens, said Spain has “a democratic problem.” “It can’t be possible that we have a head of state who has a license to commit crime,” he said.

The Socialists highlighted that the current immunity was the result of the constitutional pact made in 1978, with Ciudadanos and the People’s Party citing the Magna Carta as a way to justify their negative vote.

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