King Felipe delivering his Christmas Eve message. | Efe

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In his Christmas Eve message, King Felipe called on those who had been elected in Catalonia to respect the plurality of the region's society "without imposing their ideas on the rights of others".

Given events in Catalonia and the results of the Catalonia election that was held on Thursday, the King's message was under particular scrutiny, and he appealed for there to be "mutual respect" and "coexistence" in Catalan society. He recognised that 2017 has been a difficult year that has been marked by "the situation in Catalonia". The King stressed that in Spain any citizen can "freely and democratically" express opinions and ideas, but without imposing these ideas on the rights of others.

"Respecting and preserving the principles and values of our social and democratic state of law is essential to guarantee a coexistence that ensures freedom, equality, justice and political pluralism, as our Constitution points out." The King continued: "When these basic principles are broken, coexistence first deteriorates and then becomes unviable."

Felipe referred to the experience of the past forty years of democracy and to the "unprecedented leap in our history, which has been possible thanks to an open Spain with solidarity". This, he added, "recognizes and respects our differences, our plurality and our diversity with an integrating spirit - a Spain inspired by an unwavering will of concord".

The King appreciated that not everything has been successful. There are, he explained, "difficult and complex situations" that need to be corrected and which require commitment of the whole society. He urged that a Spain which had been built "together" should not be renounced. Instead, there has to be a continuation of "updating" the country. "No one wants a Spain that is just conformist or paralysed; rather, a Spain that is disposed to evolve and adapt to new times."