International Congress on the Figure of the Head of State


Congress Presentation

Logotipo del congreso Jefatura del estadoWhat is characteristic of monarchy, especially before the emergence of the constitutional state, is the lack of complete subordination of the King’s power to the law. A long historical journey places us today before a constitutional body, the Crown, which is not properly a branch of state power. The King is the Head of State with generally formal and defined functions. Indeed, in a modern parliamentary monarchy like the Spanish one, the King lacks legislative, executive or judicial powers and is neither legislative, executive, nor judicial. Furthermore, almost all of his competencies are purely formal and absolutely predetermined by another constitutional body. In the second title of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, the status of this high magistracy is forged, linked to the continuity and stability of the State but excluded from political processes and decisions.


Until recently, no institution or constitutional body had such a high esteem as the Crown. Monarchy played a decisive role in Spain in the transition from dictatorship to democracy, in a peaceful, rapid, and effective manner. Undoubtedly, it contributed to consolidating a democratic regime, provided stability, and played an empowering role in foreign policy.


The starting point is the current state of the issue of the legal status of the Head of State, situated in the challenges it presents from a multidisciplinary perspective, whether from Public Law, Private Law, Political Sciences, or Contemporary History, and the problems that some aspects of the legal status of the King still present in an advanced rule of law. Probably, for example, it can be questioned whether an extensive interpretation of the King’s inviolability and irresponsibility is compatible with the rule of law. Let us not forget that responsibility is a pillar of the rule of law. All powers and organs of the State are subject to accountability. But, although it has been the most controversial and widespread issue, it is not the only one, nor is its role as a symbol of state unity or in foreign policy.


This also gives rise to numerous issues that, at times, go beyond but are connected to the object of study. Thus, for example, the question of the transparency of the Crown as an institution, the mentioned public and private legal status of the King, those related to his functions, such as those linked in Article 62 i) of the Constitution to the exercise of the right of clemency according to the law, which cannot authorize general pardons. Also undoubtedly those related to a gender issue and refer mainly to the elimination of the preference, in Article 57.1 of the Constitution, of males over females.


Certainly, the analyses and proposals for a better constitutional and legal adaptation of the parliamentary monarchy, especially the legal status of the King, require a starting thesis: the urgent need for prospective and lege ferenda studies.


For all these reasons, the PI D2020-114303RB-100 “The Legal Status of the Head of State in the Spanish Parliamentary Monarchy (JEMONPAR)” from the MICIN (obtained by the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) and the Institute of Comparative Public Law Manuel García Pelayo of the Carlos III University of Madrid have joined forces in the organization of this Congress.


Elviro Aranda Álvarez, Director of the Institute of Comparative Public Law at UC3M
Juan Rodríguez-Drincourt, IP 1 of the PI JEMONPAR
Dulce M. Santana Vega, IP2 of the PI JEMONPAR

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