By Fiona Ortiz

Many Spaniards are hoping for a lot more than polish and glamour from new King Felipe VI when he takes the throne today after his father’s surprise abdication.

Madrid.—The new monarch faces daunting expectations that he can help resolve some thorny political problems - especially a surging independence movement in wealthy Catalonia in northeastern Spain - even though his role as head of state is largely symbolic.
Part of this is because the 46-year-old, who has a degree in diplomacy from Washington D.C.’s Georgetown University  and is married to a television journalist, is widely popular.
He also has an untainted image that contrasts with that of his father and other members of his family.
But some constitutional experts and politicians are hoping the new king will use behind-the-scenes influence to push Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and opposition leaders into reforming Spain’s 1978 constitution to resolve the Catalan crisis by redesigning relations between autonomous regions and the central government.


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