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Democrecy of spain

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Democrecy of spain

In what ways did the institutional legacy of the Franco regime shape Spain's transition to democracy?

In less than two decades Spain has rushed from dictatorship to democracy and from virtual world isolation to membership in the European Union. The actual transition (1973-1982) took place from the assasination of Carrero Blanco, heir to the regime, to the 1982 democratic elections (3rd after Franco's death) when the Socialists won by a wide margin. The transition may have been relatively peaceful, but was not without its formidable challenges. Spain existed under the authoritarian rule of Francisco Franco for thirty-nine years. Throughout this period the Francoist ideology was based on 'the three pillars of the regime': the Nationalist Army, the Falange (the single party government) and the Church. In addition, the mass media also played an important role in the dictatorship and the transition to democracy. The Spanish regime, under the directive of General Franco operated under a fascist doctrine, adamantly rejecting the principles of democracy. Upon Franco's death he was no longer able to protect and promote the values of national unity, anti-communism, and Catholicism. He could no longer stand in the way of a nation ready to turn to a democratic government, society, and culture. Although Franco's death on November 20th, 1975 precipitated a nominal shift to democracy, the transition, shaped by the institutional legacy left behind by the Franco regime, actually began much earlier.

Franco was the Caudillo of Spain for nearly forty years. From the close of the Civil War in 1939 (Franco was Chief of the Government of the Spanish State since September 1936) up until his death in 1975, General Franco was the authoritarian ruler in Spain. Franco was the last of the European dictators still alive from the inter-war period. The Francoist constitution, the Leyes Fundamentales, was supposed to make possible the institutionalization of the regime and ensure its continuity after Franco's death, Franco counted on the army to guarantee the established legality and constitutionality of the regime. Over time, it appeared as though the army had internalized this role and would not allow the regime to fall. This, however, may have led to a search developing as to how to break the regime within the parameters of the Constitution so that the military would not get involved. This, in the end, is what happened. The transition to democracy took place within the boundary's of the law. Francoism was based on the coalition of forces that had gained victory during the civil war. Franco divided the functions of the state among various families of the regime. This, all in an attempt to keep the regime strong and prevent its collapse. More specifically, Franco believed that balancing the families (Catholics, monarchists, soldiers, clergymen, Falangists, and technocrats) against one another within his government would decrease the possibilities of a coup or uprising occurring to oust him from power. The families were formally united in the single party known as the Movimiento, in reality, however, they were locked in rivalry and would turn to Franco as arbiter. This was Franco's plan and one of his greatest achievements. While Franco was alive only minimal changes were allowed; those that did not threaten the nature of the regime. The Spanish regime began by rejecting the principles of liberal democracy and adhering to the fascist teachings of the Falange. "The belief that democracy engendered chaos and national disunity was a central tenet of the regime's educational and cultural policy." "The regime later realized that it would be necesaryin the rapidly expanding global world to co-exist with democratic governments. New institutions were created to cover up the isolated figure of the dictator.

With Franco becoming seriously ill in the summer of 1974, power was handed over to Juan Carlos, who was declared heir to the throne in 1969. Juan Carlos swore loyalty to Franco and the principles of the regime and promised that he would continue the legacy of Francoism after the ruler's death. This as it turned our was one of Franco's most serious political mistakes and may have been the deciding factor in the fall of the regime. Following his death in 1975, the political structure of Spain remained somewhat uncertain. While many institutions remained from the day's of the regime, it was not sure how long they would last. The change in political structure was not without warning. While many people expected a change to occur in the near future, Franco's death was not properly prepared for and people were unsure of what to do with Franco gone.

At this time Carlos Arias Navarro was in office as prime minister following the assassination of Carrero Blanco in December of 1973. The government, under the control of Navarro was a failure both in the attempt at reform and to control the process of change. He held office until July 1976, when he resigned as Prime Minister. Adolfo Su'rez Gonz'lez took the role of Prime Minister following Navarro's resignation. Su'rez was seen as both the promoter of the continuation of Francoism as well as the chief promoter of the transition to democracy.

Su'rez' government had a strategy of reform containing three main tasks: to solve the economic crisis, pass the proposed constitution, and find a solution to the regional problems facing Spain. The first two issues were solved through a series of negotiations among the major parties involved, then ratified by the Cortes (Parliament). The negotiating of the demands of the ruptura pactada (negotiated break) was the key to Su'rez' successful rule until the elections of 1977. He made strategic agreements with the right and left of government in the hope of keeping a settled atmosphere within the state. Specifically, he accepted several of the opposition's demands including: the right to political parties, the granting of political amnesty and the call for free elections to a constituent assembly. The third issue was solved by granting Statutes of Autonomy to those regions that were in conflict; in the attempt to lower the widespread terrorism throughout the country. If the ETA did not destroy the prospects of democracy, democracy would have to destrooy the ETA. This was done through the granting of autonomy. While the ETA still had to be feared, it was not as great a threat as before.

The goal and eventual achievement of the Su'rez government was to establish democracy in Spain. He used the instruments left over from the dictatorship to dismantle the institutions of Francoism. He wanted to provide the Spanish people with the first opportunity to vote for their government in forty years. The goal of democracy was faced with three main problems before the path could be left clear for democratic reform. First, there was the opposition from the right and the left. Second, Su'rez was unsure if the opposition, so openly critical of the government's recent failures, obsessed with politics, would accept a democratic form of government to solve the worsening economic situation. The chief opposition to the new government was the Socialist Party. Under the leadership of Felipe Gonz'lez the party held it's first Congress in roughly forty years. A decision was arrived at to accept the monarchy, as long as it was democratic. Thirdly, unless the Communist party was legalized, the democratic opposition, however much it disliked the Communists, they could not accept the proposed reforms. If, however, the Communists were legalized, the government could expect strong negative reaction from the right. The overcoming of these problems led to a clear path for the installation of democracy in Spain.

The Uni'n Centro Democr'tico (UCD) was an electoral coalition formed in 1977 under the leadership of the Prime Minister Adolfo Su'rez. It brought together the common interests of many Social Democrat and Liberal parties within Spain, along with a number of independent politicians. After the 1977 elections, it went on to become a unified political party of the new government. The UCD took steps to reduce the military threat to the transition imposed by the Francoist dictatorship. "Strategic promotions and an emphasis on fidelity to the monarch were intended to engender loyalty to the democratic regime." The UCD wanted to establish civilian control over the military in as short a time as possible.

The military was the backbone of Franco's power. He used the army to impose threats and repress opposition to the regime within Spain. The officers of the military, known as the Bunker, were ...

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Keywords: democracy of spain, does spain have democracy, is spain a full democracy, how democratic is spain

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