King Felipe VI’s full speech at the 23F 40th anniversary ceremony

Publication: Tuesday, February 23, 2021 1:29 PM

Thank you for bringing us together here today in the Congress of Deputies to mark the 40th anniversary of a date, February 23, 1981, of such importance and relevance to our then young democracy and to the consolidation of our political transition.

Millions of Spaniards, even of my generation, have – we have it – that night engraved in their memory; and above all the memory of how, out of anguish and concern for what might happen, they felt the tranquility of seeing how freedom and constitutional order reigned; to check how the new period of our history that years before the Spaniards had decided to open freely has been confirmed and ensured.

Madam President, the national sovereignty which, as we well know, resides in the Spanish people, from whom all the powers of the State emanate, finds its legitimate and highest representation in the Cortes Generales. Without a doubt, a great demand and responsibility of Parliament which always deserves the highest consideration, dignity and respect, because it is the essential pillar and the heart of any democracy.

40 years ago today, Spain experienced an attack of extraordinary gravity against its democratic system of rights and freedoms, approved by the Constitution of 1978. The Congress of Deputies has remained temporarily captive due to the actions of forces contrary to the path of freedom and progress undertaken by the Spaniards with great enthusiasm and hope for the future.

The institutional and citizen rejection of the collapse of our framework of coexistence was decisive in stopping and defeating this coup. Likewise, the deep democratic conviction of parliamentarians and members of the Government, who during these long hours from 23 to 24 February 1981 took place here in this room, confirmed the feeling of the citizens they represented and of those they represented. served.

In recalling these moments, I want, with great admiration and gratitude, to convey in the person of the President of the Government Adolfo Suárez González, a long list of men and women, civilians and soldiers, whom we all have to spirit, which offered that night, also together to the media, an example of courage and loyalty to state institutions and to our Constitution.

And faced with this unacceptable fracture of the legitimate and legal democratic order, King Juan Carlos I assumed as Head of State his responsibility and his attachment to the Constitution so that – and I quote verbatim – “all measures necessary to maintain constitutional order within the current legislation. “This was communicated to all Spaniards in a televised message which is already part of our collective memory. His steadfastness and authority were decisive for the defense and the triumph of democracy.

That night I also witnessed – still a child – this historic episode and learned the immense, the incalculable value that freedom has for the Spanish people.

The anniversary which we remember today obliges us to value with serenity and rigor the irreplaceable democratic principle which is the basis of our coexistence. Respect for the social and democratic rule of law in which Spain has been established since 1978 and that we have built for more than four decades, step by step and side by side, is a prerequisite and necessary for this coexistence and progress. Of our society.

Therefore, all of us – citizens and institutions – must feel engaged and obligated to defend, protect and preserve our coexistence in democracy and freedom. Stand up for her, because we know how difficult it has been to reach her and that there are always risks that can threaten her.

Protect it, for we have learned that democracy is a delicate asset which requires the utmost care and constant respect and dedication from all; because we are aware that its erosion calls into question and, consequently, endangers the rights and freedoms of citizens.

And preserve it, because we also know that, according to our values, it constitutes an inalienable premise for the full development of our country and for the progress, well-being and prosperity of our citizens. Democracy, through its representative institutions, must always know how to face, with a constructive spirit and without losing its foundations, the new challenges facing society.

Ladies and gentlemen, deputies and senators, the Constitution of 1978 signifies, in our long history, the reunion and understanding between the Spaniards, their unity in democratic values ​​and in our rights and freedoms, and their confidence in a Spain in which they register and all citizens are recognized.

Today, as a king, a symbol of the unity and permanence of the State, my attachment to the Constitution is stronger and firmer than ever. As is also unequivocal, the will of the Crown to be an institution that includes, integrates and unites all Spaniards.

The men and women of my generation have lived and enjoyed freedom in a democracy consolidated in its institutions and based on the feelings and lives of our citizens. We have both witnessed and participated in the profound transformation of Spain, its integration into Europe and its extraordinary collective progress. Today, without a doubt, we have the responsibility and the moral obligation to pursue our common project: to strengthen, broaden and enrich this path of freedom and democracy which, for more than 40 years, has been the guide and reference of our history, social and cultural community, politics.

And today, when we celebrate the victory of democracy on February 23, 1981, it is a very timely occasion to recognize and praise the full validity and strength of its values ​​and principles; and to reaffirm and renew the attachment of all state institutions to our democratic system of rights and freedoms.

We owe it to those who defended it then; We owe it to the new generations in whose hands the future of Spain will be; In short, we owe it to the Spanish people who, a few days after that night which we remember today, expressed in an exemplary manner their defense of freedom, democracy and the Constitution.

Thank you very much. Eskerrik asko. Moltes thanks. Moitas grazas.

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