Spain's king says he has no thought of abdicating

Madrid, Feb 22 (EFE).- Spain's King Juan Carlos has not considered for one moment the possibility of abdicating nor plans to do so, officials at the royal palace told Efe on Friday.

The institution was dealing with various reports over the past few days speculating that the monarch was weighing the possibility of abdicating in favor of his son, Crown Prince Felipe.

This week the leader of the Catalan regional branch of the Socialist party, Pere Navarro, asked for the monarch's abdication in favor of his son, who would lead a "second transition" in Spain, alluding to the process of democratization that followed the death in 1975 of dictator Francisco Franco.

In response to that statement, the national Socialist party announced that it in no way agrees with that request and would have no part of it, while the governing Popular Party considered Navarro's words "senseless and improper."

Speculation in the press about whether the king might be considering abdication grew more intense after the announcement Thursday that the monarch will be operated for a herniated disc on March 3, a little over three months since a prosthesis was implanted in his left hip.

This will be the 11th time Juan Carlos has gone under the knife since the 1980s.