There is a new era dawning in Spain — and we are not referring to the need for that nation’s football team to rebuild, but rather the ascension of King Felipe VI to the Bourbon throne.
The ceremony for the coronation was short and simple, doing away with the pomp and circumstance of previous royal occasions. If that is to be his nature during his reign, then most pragmatic Spaniards will appreciate the gesture. And they will certainly appreciate his wise words in his first speech as the new monarch.
Felipe stressed the need for unity and stability — words not meant as a mere notion from a new leader. No, for Felipe, these are words that will test his mettle for action. With the Catalonia region around Barcelona determined to hold a referendum for the creation of a separatist region in November and with Basques turning to the ballot box, rather than the bomb or bullet, the risk of fragmentation in the Iberian peninsula is indeed very real. Felipe will need to use every ounce of his leadership, popularity and political charm to keep his nation together, stable and unified.
If that is not challenging enough, then Felipe must also turn the economically disenfranchised and chronically unemployed — mostly the under-25, where one-in-four is without work. While he cannot control Spain’s political agenda, as that is the role of elected officials, he can at least offer inspiration and hope.