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Anti-monarchy protesters demand referendum following Spanish king’s abdication

Published time: June 02, 2014 21:50
Anti-royalist protesters attend a demonstration in Bilbao June 2, 2014. (Reuters / Vincent West)

Anti-royalist protesters attend a demonstration in Bilbao June 2, 2014. (Reuters / Vincent West)

Tens of thousands across Spain have taken to the streets to demand a referendum on whether the country should keep its monarchy or be proclaimed a republic following the abdication of King Juan Carlos I.

The biggest rally, held in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square, united anti-monarchist activists under the 'Monarchy No Thanks' campaign.

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Thousands of people carrying Republican flags flooded the capital hours after the 76-year-old monarch announced his resignation in favor of his 46 year-old son. Spain's 15-M social movement launched the proposal for a protest against the monarchy and the declaration of a republic.

“Spain, tomorrow, will be Republican,” protesters chanted.They claimed that at least 20,000 police officers were deployed throughout the city to ensure order.

The anti-monarchist movement gained momentum in left parties, including Izquierda Unida (IU), the third political force in Spain.

The call for protests spread across social networks to over 50 Spanish cities just minutes after the king's abdication was announced Monday morning.

A man wearing a mask depicting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy holds a placard which reads, "I am part of the 5.5 million unemployed in this country" during a protest against the Spanish monarchy in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain June 2, 2014. (Reuters / Marcelo del Pozo)

In Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia – which seeks greater independence from Madrid – thousands also flooded the streets to proclaim a republic.

Activists shouting “Dear Philip, nobody has chosen you," swore to pursue independence.

Anti-royalist protesters show Catalan separatist flags during a demonstration at Catalunya square in Barcelona June 2, 2014. (Reuters / Albert Gea)

The president of the Catalan government, Artur Mas, said that "there will be a change in king, but there won't be a change in the political process that the people of Catalonia are following," AP reported.

Protesters hold a placard with up-side-down portraits of Spain's first Bourbon King Felipe V (L) and Crown Prince Felipe during an anti-royalist demonstration at the town hall square in Valencia, June 2, 2014. (Reuters / Heino Kalis)

Far-left parties urged a national referendum to abolish Spain's monarchy and called nationwide protests Monday night across over 50 cities.

The call for a referendum is also being reinforced by an online petition urging all political forces to seize this “historical opportunity to promote a public debate that will help regenerate democracy and determine the future of the monarchy.”

A woman holds a placard during a protest against the monarchy and in favour of the Republic, in front of City Hall in Mataro near Barcelona, June 2, 2014 (Reuters / Gustau Nacarino)