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Spanish cabinet agrees legislation to govern king's abdication, succession

The Spanish cabinet has approved a bill to provide a legal framework for King Juan Carlos to abdicate and his son, Crown Prince Felipe, to take the throne. This comes a day after the king announced he was stepping down.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's cabinet approved the bill during an emergency meeting in Madrid on Tuesday. The government was forced to react to the king's announcement, as there is currently no legislation setting out the conditions for the abdication and succession of a monarch.

The legislation still has to pass through both houses of parliament before it can come into force. The president of the Spanish Congress, Jesus Posada, told reporters on Tuesday that he expected this to be completed by June 18.

As Prime Minister Rajoy's People's Party has a large majority, the legislation is expected to pass through Congress easily.

'Simple' legislation

The president of Congress' constitutional commission, Arturo Garcia Tizon said the nature of the draft should also allow lawmakers to wave it through without much debate.

"I think it will be a very simple piece of legislation, very short, lacking complexity, and that will allow Congress to be processed in single reading," he said in an interview with the private radio station Onda Cero.

It's still not clear when the actual succession will happen, as this is a matter to be negotiated between the royal family and parliament. The royal palace said on Tuesday that it could happen in "three to six weeks."

Surprise announcement

King Juan Carlos surprised many on Monday by

announcing his intention to relinquish the throne

after a reign of nearly four decades.

He came to power in 1975, two days after the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco, who had named Juan Carlos as his successor. The king subsequently oversaw Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy.

Popularity dips

Popular in his early years as Spain's head of state, he has seen his approval rating dip following a string of royal scandals.

His image took a blow after

taking a luxury elephant-hunting vacation

in the middle of Spain's financial crisis in April 2012. He broke his right hip during the trip and had to be flown on a private jet from Botswana back to Spain for medical treatment.

In 2010, a corruption investigation was opened against former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, the husband of the king's youngest daughter, Cristina. She has also been accused of involvement in the scandal but denies knowledge of her husband's business dealings.

Prince Felipe, 46, is a former Olympic yachtsman and has

remained relatively unscathed amid the family scandals

. He married former television producer Letizia Ortiz in 2004.

pfd/ipj (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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