Like every Christmas Eve, I have the opportunity to congratulate you on Christmas and to convey to you, along with my family, our best wishes. It is a tradition that I like to maintain and that also allows me to bring to your homes some reflections on our present and on the challenges that we face as a country.
The economic and social difficulties that affect the daily lives of many Spaniards are a concern for everyone. A concern that is expressed, especially, in relation to employment, health, the quality of education, the price of basic services. Of course also with the unacceptable violence against women or, in the case of young people, with access to housing.
So, there are many specific questions that I would like to address with you today, although tonight I want to focus on others that also have a lot to do with the development of our collective life. It is the Constitution and Spain that I want to refer to.
This year, our Constitution has turned 45 years old. During these years of democratic life, the Constitution, which the Princess of Asturias swore on last October 31, has been uninterruptedly present in our lives. And it is, without a doubt, the best example of union and coexistence between Spaniards.
We cannot forget that one of our great assets in democracy is, precisely, that coexistence based on shared feelings and the common search for the well-being and prosperity of all.
In Asturias last October, I pointed out – and I believe so – that it is with unity, with collective effort and with attitudes of solidarity that great works are built, those that transcend people, those that last and remain in the world. time. This is how a country progresses.
Naturally, in Spain every citizen has the right to think, express themselves and defend their ideas freely and with respect for others. But democracy also requires basic and broad consensus on the principles that we have shared and that have united us for several generations.
And that union, which has deep historical and cultural roots, must rest above all on the values that govern all democratic coexistence: freedom, justice, equality, political pluralism. These are the values that unite us, that give strength and permanence to a democratic system like ours.
And this is how our Constitution defines and establishes them, which has been the greatest political success in our recent history, and which represented the culmination of a process that deserved extraordinary admiration and international recognition.
Thanks to it, Spain managed to build and consolidate a full, open and inclusive democracy, a Social and Democratic State of Law, which has ensured our coexistence and which has allowed us to overcome various and serious crises in recent years. That is the obvious reality of our recent constitutional history.
Thanks to the Constitution we managed to overcome the division, which has been the cause of many errors in our history; that opened wounds, fractured affections and distanced people. Overcoming this division, therefore, was our main success almost five decades ago. Therefore, preventing the germ of discord from ever establishing itself among us is a moral duty that we all have. Because we can’t afford it.
And there is another dimension of the Constitution that we often do not notice, and that is undoubtedly also very important: The one that allows us to ensure our model of life, our way of living and understanding life. Expressing yourself freely, receiving an education, having a job, or protecting yourself from illness is undoubtedly key in our daily lives. It is also important to have access to housing, start a family, have social assistance or have a decent retirement… All of these daily events – and many more – are what the Constitution protects, guarantees and protects.
For this reason, I want to vindicate the Constitution not only as a democratic value for the present and future, but also as an essential instrument and guarantee so that the lives of Spaniards can continue to flow with confidence, with stability, with certainty.
So that we can freely enjoy a life in which each one—with their circumstances—can see their legitimate expectations, ambitions, projects and needs reasonably satisfied.
But it is evident that for the Constitution to fully develop its mission, it is not only required that we respect it, but also that we preserve its identity, what defines it, what it means; its reason for being as a collective agreement of all and among all for a shared purpose.
And, finally, it demands that we preserve its integrity as a place of mutual recognition, acceptance and encounter approved by all Spaniards, as legitimate holders of national sovereignty.
Therefore, without respect for the Constitution there is no democracy or coexistence possible; there are no freedoms but imposition; There is no law, but arbitrariness. Outside the Constitution there is no Spain in peace and freedom.
And together with the Constitution, Spain. We Spaniards began a new path almost half a century ago; we did it together, democratically, in a common project. We approve a shared vision of Spain that recognizes the right of everyone to feel and be respected in their own personality and culture; with their languages, traditions and institutions.
And today, Spain is a strong society, which has demonstrated many times the values that forge our meaning as a political community: We have been in solidarity with those who have suffered adversity; We have had exemplary civic behavior in overcoming COVID; We have demonstrated courage, dignity and principles in the face of terrorism; And we have expressed and – above all – defended our constitutional values when they have been in question or put at risk.
And we have also done all of this together and in accordance with the constitutional framework, decided by all Spaniards. The ultimate reason for our successes and progress in recent history has been precisely the unity of our country, based on our democratic values and cohesion, on the solid ties of the State with our Autonomous Communities and on the solidarity between all of them. Also based on our openness to the outside world with a deep Ibero-American and European vocation. Precisely, Spain has presided over the Council of the EU during the last semester, in which the unity of Europe has been reinforced.
I have no doubt that unity will also be the key for us to successfully face the serious and complex future challenges that Spain faces today.
To address this future, all State institutions have the duty to conduct ourselves with the greatest responsibility and always seek the general interests of all Spaniards with loyalty to the Constitution. Each institution, starting with the King, must place itself in the place that constitutionally corresponds to it, exercise the functions attributed to it and comply with the obligations and duties that the Constitution indicates to it.
We must also respect other institutions in the exercise of their own powers and mutually contribute to their strengthening and prestige. And finally we must always ensure the good name, dignity and respect of our country.
Throughout its history, for centuries, Spain has had the responsibility of influencing the course of Humanity. As it has also gone through periods of tragedy, silence, isolation and pain. But the Spanish people have always surpassed them; has managed to overcome, knowing how to choose its path with strength and with the pride of the people who are and want to be.
We should become more aware of the great country we have, so we can feel it more and take care of it together. In this way we will be able to better fulfill the obligation that I spoke about a few weeks ago in the Cortes: that of guaranteeing to the young generations the legacy of a united, cohesive Spain, with a will to understand, and solid in its democratic, civic and moral convictions; the legacy of a respected Spain, of a beloved Nation, in which they can continue to develop their lives freely, safely in an environment of stability and trust.
Spain will continue forward. With determination, with hope, we will do it together; aware of our historical and current reality, of our truth as a Nation. The Crown will always be on that path; not only because it is my duty as King, but also because it is my conviction.
Thank you for your time tonight and together with the Queen, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofía we wish you a happy Christmas Eve, with a very special memory for those who, at this moment, with dedication and dedication, ensure the safety of everyone, and for the operation of public services.
To all, Merry Christmas, Eguberri on, Bon Nadal and Boas festas.
Good night; and Happy and prosperous new year 2024.