Press sees Spain at "crossroads"

Spanish newspaper front pages Papers marked the news with special editions

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Spanish newspapers and websites have marked King Juan Carlos's surprise announcement that he will abdicate in favour of his son Prince Felipe with special editions and front-page editorials.

They are full of praise for a king credited with smoothing Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy. But there is also agreement that Prince Felipe faces challenges ahead, both in restoring the monarchy's prestige and in confronting some pressing political issues.

"The monarch who smoothed the path to democracy has given up the crown to further its modernisation," says centre-left daily El Pais in a front-page piece titled "A necessary king".

"Prince Felipe will now have to win the confidence of Spaniards, building on qualities shown by his father and facilitating the modernisation that Spain urgently needs," it says.

"Felipe VI takes over in the midst of an institutional crisis," is centre-right El Mundo's headline.

It hails Felipe as "the best guarantee" that the prestige of the monarchy can be restored in a Spain which it describes as being "at a crossroads".

"The first political reactions were a good indication of the difficult crossroads the country finds itself at. While the [governing] Popular Party and [opposition] Socialist Party supported the king's decision and showed their support to the prince, [Catalan leader] Artur Mas confirmed from Catalonia that the abdication does not slow down the process of independence," it says.

Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain

"If Juan Carlos had to invent a modern constitutional monarchy in Spain in 1975, Felipe will have to reinvent it," the paper says, while also lauding Juan Carlos's handover of the reins of the monarchy as a "last great service" to his country.

"A model king to the end," agrees conservative La Razon in its editorial.

"The fact that the king's abdication is not an institutional or social issue for Spain is the greatest praise there can be of his regal nature and the final summing up of his political work, which is without paragon in recent history," it says.

"Felipe VI's time has come", proclaims the front page of Barcelona's La Vanguardia, adding that the king's announcement took even Prince Felipe by surprise.

"A new political, institutional and social stage begins. Without doubt, we are at a very important moment in the history of democratic Spain, decisive for the future," it says.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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