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

Essay by solope1984University, Bachelor'sB, March 2006

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General Francisco Franco seized power over Spain taking advantage of the extremely unstable and volatile nature of Spanish politics in 1936. General Franco's uprising on 18 July was ensued by a savage civil war which continued through till 1939. Franco led a repressive regime for over thirty years projecting his vision of a unified Spain - 'una, grande y libre' until his death in 1975. The interesting outcome of his regime was that although he was a dictator he actually ignited the transition to democracy. The institutional legacy of Franco is characterised by the 'poderes fácticos.' These centres of power enjoyed major political influence and shaped Spain's transition from a dictatorship rule to one of democracy.

"Doubtlessly there are but two valid ways for people to conduct their lives: one religion and the other military-or, if you wish, only one since there is no religion which is not military, nor any army which is not welded together with religious sentiment.

It is high time for us to understand that the key to Spain's revival is this religious and military sense of life."

The two main centres of power were the military and the Catholic Church; they played a critical role in the development of modern Spain. Post-Franco, the former became a real threat to the success of the democratic transition due to an underlying feeling of mistrust and the latter distanced itself from any kind of political engagement. However more recently they appear to have completely switched roles; the military have eradicated any residual golpista tendencies, fully accepts civilian authority and the Catholic Church under the rule of John Paul II has become increasingly outspoken on matters of a political nature. Mass communications media the so-called-fourth estate also played a considerably important role. Previously strictly controlled by Franco the...