September 25, 2013 / 5:56 AM / 5 years ago

Spanish king will need more hip surgery

Spain's King Juan Carlos stands on his crutches as he attends an audience at Zarzuela Palace September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish King Juan Carlos will need a second hip operation in two months time after undergoing a temporary replacement on Tuesday, his doctors said after surgery they called “a success”.

The 75-year-old king’s fifth procedure in two years has revived speculation that the ailing monarch may be close to abdicating, something denied by the palace.

The King’s poor health has sparked a political debate over whether a law is needed to address a legal vacuum regarding Crown Prince Felipe’s executive powers when he stands in for his father, who is head of state.

But Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose conservative People’s Party has an absolute majority in parliament, told reporters late on Tuesday in New York there was “no reason” for such a law.

Juan Carlos helped guide Spain to democracy at the end of the Francisco Franco dictatorship in 1975, but a series of scandals has eroded support for the royal family.

Prince Felipe, who has not been tainted by scandal, represents his father at official events but has no authority to sign decrees and acts into law.

The palace has said the king will be able to carry out such duties from the hospital and during his recovery.

Most Spaniards would like Felipe to take over, a poll earlier this year showed, although support for a republic has also grown.

The king, who has been walking with crutches, underwent surgery in a private clinic in Madrid.

Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Mike Collett-White

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