The royal family has said its wants the change to ensure she is next in line to the throne in the event that Felipe’s wife gets pregnant again and gives birth to a boy, who would become monarch under the current constitution.
Analysts say that could open the door to political negotiations for additional proposed constitutional changes, including demands by the leading opposition Socialist Party to grant Catalonia more autonomy or special financial benefits to blunt Catalonian separatist sentiment.
“I think both parties could agree on a change to accommodate the needs of Catalonia,” said Antonio Barroso, a London-based analyst with the Teneo Intelligence political and business risk consulting firm. He cautioned that the process could take months.
Artur Mas, the president of Catalonia, declared that the king’s abdication would not derail his plans to hold the vote asking Catalans whether they want to secede from Spain.
“We have a date with our future on Nov. 9,” Mas told reporters after the king gave his speech.
In a statement issued later, Mas added 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.”
The abdication was first announced Monday by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who did not say when the handover would happen because the government must now craft a law creating a legal mechanism for the abdication and for Felipe’s assumption of power.
Rajoy, however, said he would preside over an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday to draft the law which is assured of passing because his center-right Popular Party has an absolute majority in Parliament.
Far-left parties called for a national referendum to abolish Spain’s monarchy after the king made his announcement and said they would hold nationwide protests Monday night. They surprised the nation May 25 by polling much stronger than expected in the European Parliament elections, taking away seats from the mainline Popular and Socialist parties.