Spain’s New King

King Felipe VI called for a “new Spain that we will build together” at a ceremony marking his proclamation as head of state. Under Spain’s constitutional monarchy, Filipe serves as the ceremonial head of state, while the Prime Minister, currently Mario Rajoy Brey, is selected by the Spanish parliament to be head of government.

Spain’s previous King, Juan Carlos I, held the office from 1975 until he abdicated the position on June 2. While the position is largely ceremonial in nature, Juan Carlos’ reign suffered from several scandals in recent years, most notably in 2012, when he was criticized for taking a lavish elephant hunting trip in Botswana while Spain’s economic crisis mounted. A Spanish newspaper estimated the cost of the trip at more than $44,000, about twice the average annual salary in the country. At that time, Spain’s unemployment rate was about 25 percent—about 50 percent for young workers. Several Spanish political parties called for his abdication.

What do you think? Will Spain’s new king be more successful in his role of head of state? What are the advantages of having the positions of head of state and head of government separated, like in Spain? What are the advantages of having the positions unified, as they are in countries like the United States?

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