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Estado Español (or Reino de España)
Spanish State (or Kingdom of Spain)

Flag Coat of arms
Plvs Vltra
Una, Grande y Libre
"Marcha Granadera"
Capital Madrid
Language(s) Spanish (official)
Prohibited: Catalan, Galician, Basque, others
Religion Roman Catholic
Government Single-party state, Autocratic

(before 1947)
Interregnum, absolute monarchy
(after 1947)

Head of State¹
 - 1939–1975 Francisco Franco
 - 1975–1978 Juan Carlos I
Chief of the Government
 - 1939–1973 Francisco Franco
 - 1973 Luis Carrero Blanco
 - 1973–1976 Carlos Arias Navarro
 - 1976–1978 Adolfo Suárez
Legislature Spanish Government[1]
(Appointed by the Chief of the Government)
Historical era Cold War
 - Spanish Civil War 1936–1939
 - Republic defeated 1 April 1939
 - Death of Franco 20 November 1975
 - Constitutional monarchy 29 November 1975
 - 1975 504,030 km2 (194,607 sq mi)
 - 1975 est. 35,563,535 
     Density 70.6 /km2  (182.7 /sq mi)
Currency Spanish peseta
¹ Francisco Franco was effectively regent (in place of a monarch) during his tenure as the ruler of the Spanish State. He was however succeeded by Juan Carlos I, who ascended to the Spanish throne as king.
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The Spanish State (Estado Español) was the formal name of Spain from 1939 to 1975 under the authoritarian dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

The régime emerged from the victory in the Spanish Civil War of the rebel Nacionales coalition led by General Franco. Besides the internal support, Franco's rebellion had been backed from abroad by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, while the Second Spanish Republic was increasingly backed by the communist Soviet Union. The subsequent régime, implemented by the victorious Franco, is referred to as Francoist Spain.

While the Spanish State was not fascist, it was authoritarian and right-wing, but adopted some of the superficial trappings of fascism.[2][3][4][5][6]

After winning the Spanish Civil War, the Nacionales had established a single party authoritarian state under the undisputed leadership of Franco. World War II started shortly afterwards, and though Spain was officially neutral, it did send a special Division of troops to Russia to aid the Germans, and its pro-Axis stance led to it being isolated after the collapse of the Axis powers. This changed with the new Cold War scenario, on the face of which Franco's strong anti-Communism naturally tilted its régime to ally with the United States.

The Spanish State was declared a monarchy in 1947, but no king was designated; Franco reserved for himself the right to name the person to be king, and deliberately delayed the selection due to political considerations. The selection finally came in 1969, with the designation of Juan Carlos de Borbón as Franco's official successor.

With the death of Franco on 20 November 1975, Juan Carlos became the absolute King of Spain. He immediately began transitioning to democracy, ending with Spain becoming a constitutional monarchy articulated by a parliamentary democracy.


Etymology and usage

Spanish stamp (1937-1940)

When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, the Nationalist forces immediately began using the form the Spanish State rather than the Spanish Republic or the Spanish Monarchy, out of deference to the differing political sensibilities of the members of the Nationalist coalition, which included, amongst others, the anti-monarchic fascist Falangists, and the rival conservative-monarchist Carlists and Legitimist parties.



The Nationalist senior generals held an informal meeting in September 1936, where they elected Francisco Franco as leader of the Nationalists, with the rank of Generalísimo (sometimes written in English as Generalissimo, after the Fascist Italian fashion). He was originally supposed to be only commander-in-chief, but after the death of General Emilio Mola (the initial leader of the movement) became head of state as well with nearly unlimited and absolute powers.

This provisional government ruled over the territories controlled by the Nationalists during the Civil War. Its main political action during the war was the consolidation of the heterogeneous political forces that joined the rebellion into a single party, the authoritarian Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS.

During the war, the Nationalist government repressed Republican militants and sympathizers, as retaliation for the repression of clergy and Nationalist militants on the opposite side. Extrajudicial killings were widespread on both sides during the whole war. The retaliation continued right after the war, in part to punish war crimes committed under the Republican government, under a trial called Causa General. Franco's government executed, jailed, or subjected to forced labor thousands of Republicans, but many of them were entirely innocent of anything other than the flimsiest support for the Republican cause, or merely being related to known Republicans. As a result thousands chose to go into exile, mostly in France and Mexico. Of those who fled to metropolitan France, many joined the French resistance against the Nazis. One such exile in metropolitan France was Lluís Companys, President of the Catalan Government; he was subsequently arrested and extradited to Spain in September 1940 by the Pétain regime, then executed after a military trial.

The aftermath of the Civil War was socially bleak: many of those who had supported the Republic fled into exile. Spain lost thousands of doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, judges, professors, businessmen, artists,etc. Many of those who had to stay lost their jobs or lost their rank. Sometimes those jobs were given to unskilled and even untrained personnel. This deprived the country of many of its brightest minds, and also of a very capable workforce.[citation needed]. However, this was done to keep Spain's citizens consistent with the ideals sought by the FET-JONS and Franco.

World War II years (1939–1945)

In September 1939, World War II broke out in Europe. After the collapse of France in June 1940, Spain adopted a pro-Axis non-belligerency stance (for example, it offered Spanish naval facilities to German ships), and returned escaping Allied servicemen and fleeing resistance fighters to the Nazis, returning the favour paid by the Nazis when they had contributed forces (including the Stuka dive bombers who obliterated the town of Guernica) to support Franco and the Nationalists during the Civil War.

Adolf Hitler met Franco in Hendaye, France (23 October 1940), to discuss the Spanish entry in the war joining the Axis. Franco's demands (food, military equipment, Gibraltar, French North Africa, etc.) proved too much and no agreement was reached.

Contributing to the disagreement was an ongoing dispute over German mining rights in Spain. Some historians argue that Franco made demands that he knew Hitler would not accede to in order to stay out of the war. Other historians argue that he simply had nothing to offer the Germans. Franco did send volunteer troops to fight communism joining the Axis armies on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union. The unit name was the División Azul, or Blue Division, after the Falange's party color, whose members were known as 'blueshirts'. Franco returned to complete neutrality in 1943, when the tide of the war had turned decisively against Germany.

Isolation (1945–1953)

After the war, the Allies used Spain's ties to the Axis powers to keep it from joining the United Nations. Franco's government was seen, especially by Soviet countries but also by the Western allies, to be a remnant of the central European fascist regimes. Under these circumstances, a UN resolution condemning Franco's government followed. The resolution encouraged countries to remove their ambassadors in Spain, and established the basis for measures against Spain if the government remained authoritarian. Neighbouring Portugal, Ireland and a few Latin-American, Arabian and Asian countries, refused to comply with this advice.

The consequence of all of this was the establishment of an embargo against the Francoist regime in 1946 — including the closure of the French border — with very little success, as it boosted support for the regime. The isolation was represented by Franco's regime as a modern version of the Black Legend, with the most fanatical partisans claiming it was a machination of Jews and Freemasons against Catholic Spain. This helped to rally significant popular support for the regime such as the large scale 1946 demonstration held in Madrid. In 1947, the president of Argentina, Juan Perón, ignored the UN embargo and sent his wife Eva Perón (Evita) with much needed food supplies. The Spaniards, and Franco himself, heartily welcomed Evita.

After World War II, the Spanish economy was still in disarray. Rationing cards were still used as late as 1952. War and economic isolation prompted the regime to move towards autarky, a movement warmly welcomed by Falangists. The tenets of the economy were: reduction of imports, self-sufficiency, state-controlled production and commercialization of first order goods, state-funded industry and construction of infrastructure — heavily damaged during the Civil War — through the use of precarious means.

In other aspects the regime continued showing its heavy-handedness when it withdrew the press credentials of six U.S. reporters in 1951.[7]

The end of isolation (1953–1959)

Eisenhower and Franco in Spain in 1959

The increased tensions between the U.S. and the USSR in the 1950s, led the American government to search for new allies in Europe. Franco's harsh anti-Communist stance as well as the strategic location of Spain made the Spanish State a potential ally in the Cold War.

Spain's international ostracism was finally broken in 1953 when Spain and the United States signed the Pact of Madrid in a series of agreements under which Spain received economic assistance in the form of grants and loans in return for hosting American military bases (such as Naval Station Rota, opened in 1955). The same year, the Spanish government signed the Concordat with the Vatican.

In 1955, Spanish wealth approached the pre-Civil War levels of 1935, leaving behind the disasters of the war and the struggle of isolation.[8] Spain was admitted to the UN in 1955 and to the World Bank in 1958.[9] Other Western European countries, including Italy, were from that point eager to restore good contacts with Francoist Spain.

Spain's gradual readmission to the international fold was given visible form with the visit of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in December 1959.[10]

The Desarrollo, the Spanish Miracle (1959–1973)

A SEAT 600.

The Spanish Miracle (Desarrollo) was the name given to the Spanish economic boom between 1959 and 1973. It is seen by some as the most remarkable positive legacy of the regime. During this period, Spain largely surpassed the per capita income that differentiates developed from underdeveloped countries and induced the development of a dominant middle class which was instrumental to the future establishment of democracy.

The boom was bolstered by economic reforms promoted by the so-called "technocrats", appointed by Franco, who pushed for public investment in infrastructure development, as recommended by the International Monetary Fund. The technocrats were a new breed of economists who replaced the old, prone to isolationism, Falangist guard.

The implementation of these policies took the form of development plans (planes de Desarrollo) and it was largely a success: Spain enjoyed the second highest growth rate in the world, just after Japan, and became the ninth largest economy in the world, just after Canada. Spain joined the industrialized world, leaving behind the poverty and endemic underdevelopment it had experienced since the loss of the Spanish Empire in the 19th century.

Although the economic growth produced noticeable improvements in Spanish living standards and the development of a middle class, Spain remained less economically advanced relative to the rest of Western Europe (with the exception of Portugal, Greece and Ireland). At the heyday of the Miracle, 1974, Spanish income per capita peaked at 79 percent of the Western European average, only to be reached again 25 years later, in 1999.

The 14 years of recovery led to an increase in (often unplanned) building on the periphery of the main Spanish cities to accommodate the new class of industrial workers brought by rural exodus.

The icon of the Desarrollo was the SEAT 600 (a license-built Italian Fiat 600) the first car for many Spanish working class families, produced by the Spanish factory SEAT or Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo.

1969 also saw the Spanish government close the border with Gibraltar. Aircraft from Gibraltar were stopped from travelling to Spain or banned from using Spanish airspace. These restrictions lasted until Franco's death.

Franco's last years (1973–1975)

The 1973 oil crisis severely affected Spain, and brought the economic growth to a halt. This caused a new wave of strikes (nominally illegal at the time).

Franco's declining health gave more power to Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, but he was assassinated by ETA in 1973. Carlos Arias Navarro took over as President of the Spanish Government, and tried to introduce some reforms to the decaying regime, but he struggled between the two factions of the regime, the búnker (far-right) and the aperturists who promoted transition to Democracy.

But there was no way back to the old regime: Spain was not the same as in post-Civil War times and the model for the now wealthy Spaniards was the prosperous Western Europe, not the impoverished post-war Falangist Spain. Wealthy West Germany became a role model with which Spaniards identified themselves[citation needed], as West Germans increasingly went on vacations to the Spanish beaches. Besides this, a considerable number of Spanish men had worked in Western Europe in the previous years as cheap labour forces, thereby encountering the economic growth and wealth of other western Europeans.

Meanwhile, in Western Sahara the situation gets harder, with the Polisario Front fighting for the independence against colonial troops in one hand, and the Moroccan regime pulling the Spanish government to annex the territory to Morocco on the other.

Led by Cardinal Tarancón and hand in hand with the reforms of the Vatican Council II, the Spanish Roman Catholic church had changed deeply by the last years of the Franco regime and could not be counted as supporting it anymore.

In 1974 Franco fell ill, and Juan Carlos took over as Head of State. Franco soon recovered, but one year later fell ill once again, and after a long illness, Franco died on November 20, 1975, at the age of 82—the same date as the death of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Falange. It is suspected that the doctors were ordered to keep him barely alive by artificial means until this symbolic date of the far-right.[citation needed] The historian Ricardo de la Cierva says that on the 19th around 6 p.m. he was told that Franco had already died. After Franco's death, the interim government decided to bury him at Valle de los Caídos, a colossal memorial to all the casualties of the Spanish Civil War, although it was conceived by Franco and has a distinctly nationalist tone.[citation needed]

Upon Franco's death, Juan Carlos became the King of Spain and immediately used his absolute power to transition to a democratic and constitutional monarchy. The Spanish State ceased to exist in 1975 de facto during the Spanish transition to democracy, and was officially over de jure after the Spanish Constitution of 1978.


After Franco's victory in 1939, the FET-JONS became the sole legal party in Spain, and then, in 1949, asserted itself as the main component of the Movimiento Nacional. Through a state of emergency-like status, the national council of the FET-JONS worked as the official legislature of Spain until the passing of the Organic law of 1942.

The Organic law stipulated the government to be ultimately responsible for all legislation of the country[1], with the re-established Cortes Generales working purely as an advisory body. As head of government, Franco was constitutionally in charge of appointing his own ministers, thus being the one source of legislation. The law of referendums of 1945 approved for all "fundamental law" to be approved by a popular referendum, in which only the family heads could vote. Local municipal councils were appointed similarly by family heads and local corporations through elections, while the government exercised the right to appoint mayors. In 1947, a law passed through a referendum revived the Spanish monarchy with Franco as regent for life, with the right to appoint his successor.

Colonial empire and decolonization

Spain attempted to retain control the last remnants of its colonial empire throughout Franco's rule. During the Algerian War (1954–62), Madrid became the base of the Organisation de l'armée secrète (OAS) right-wing French Army group which sought to preserve French Algeria. Despite this, Franco was forced to make some concessions. Henceforth, when French Morocco became independent in 1956, he surrendered Spanish Morocco to Mohammed V, retaining only a few enclaves (the Plazas de soberanía). The year after, Mohammed V invaded Spanish Sahara during the Ifni War (known as the "Forgotten War" in Spain). Only in 1975, with the Green March and the military occupation, did Morocco take control of all of the former Spanish territories in the Sahara.

In 1968, under United Nations pressure, Franco granted Spain's colony of Equatorial Guinea its independence, and the next year, ceded the exclave of Ifni to Morocco. Under Franco, Spain also pursued a campaign to gain sovereignty of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, and closed its border with Gibraltar in 1969. The border would not be fully reopened until 1985.


Franco in 1969.

The consistent points in Francoism included above all authoritarianism, nationalism and anti-Freemasonry; some authors also quote integralism.[11] All in all, Francoism showed a frontal rejection of Communism, Socialism and Anarchism. Although Franco and Spain under his rule adopted some trappings of fascism, he, and Spain under his rule, are not generally considered to be fascist; among the distinctions, fascism entails a revolutionary aim to transform society, where Franco and Franco's Spain did not seek to do so, and, to the contrary, although authoritarian, were conservative and traditional.[3][4][5][6][12]

Stanley Payne, the preeminent scholar on fascism and Spain notes: "scarcely any of the serious historians and analysts of Franco consider the generalissimo to be a core fascist."[5][13] According to historian Walter Laqueur "during the civil war, Spanish fascists were forced to subordinate their activities to the nationalist cause. At the helm were military leaders such as General Francisco Franco, who were conservatives in all essential respects. When the civil war ended, Franco was so deeply entrenched that the Falange stood no chance; in this strongly authoritarian regime, there was no room for political opposition. The fascists became junior partners in the government and, as such, they had to accept responsibility for the regime's policy without being able to shape it substantially"[14]


Unlike José Antonio Primo de Rivera (founder of the Falange and executed by the Republicans during the course of the war) Franco lacked any consistent political ideology other than fierce anti-communism.

Franco initially sought support from various groups, such as National syndicalism (nacionalsindicalismo) and the Roman Catholic Church (nacionalcatolicismo). The Falange, a fringe fascist inspired party during the Republic, soon transformed itself into the frame of reference in the Movimiento Nacional. In April 1937, the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista ("Spanish Traditionalist Phalanx of the Assemblies of National-Syndicalist Offensive", FET y de las JONS) was created from a merger of the Carlist traditionalists with the Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista, which itself was issued of a merger of José Antonio Primo de Rivera's Falange Española with the national-syndicalist Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista (JONS).


Unlike other ideological-based regimes' parties, such as the Italian National Fascist Party, German Nazi Party, and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the FET-JONS were relatively heterogeneous instead of being an ideological monolith. Because of this, the Spanish State is generally considered to be authoritarian rather than fascist; among the distinctions, fascism entails a revolutionary aim to transform society, where Franco did not seek to do so, and, to the contrary, although authoritarian, were conservative and traditional. [2][3][4][5][6] After World War II, the Falange opposed freer capital markets, but the ultimately prevailing technocrats, many of whom were linked with Opus Dei, eshewed syndicalist economics and favored increased competition as a means of achieving rapid economic growth and integration with wider Europe which meant greater democracy.[15].

While it included fascist elements, the Spanish State was very authoritarian: non-government trade unions and all political opponents across the political spectrum were either suppressed or tightly controlled by all means, including violent police repression. Most country towns and rural areas were patrolled by pairs of Guardia Civil, a military police for civilians, which functioned as his chief means of social control. Larger cities, and capitals, were mostly under the heavily-armed Policía Armada, commonly called grises.

Members of the oppressed ranged from trade unions to communist and anarchist organizations to liberal democrats and Catalan or Basque separatists. The Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) trade-unions were outlawed, and replaced in 1940 by the corporatist Sindicato Vertical. The PSOE Socialist party and the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) were banned in 1939, while the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) went underground. University students seeking democracy revolted in the late '60s and early '70s, which was repressed by the grises. The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) went into exile, and in 1959, the ETA armed group was created to wage a low-intensity war against Franco. Franco, like others at the time, evidenced a concern about a possible Masonic conspiracy against his regime. Some non-Spanish authors have described it as being an "obsession"[citation needed].

Franco continued to personally sign all death warrants until just months before he died despite international campaigns requesting him to desist.


Franco's Spanish nationalism promoted a unitary national identity by repressing Spain's cultural diversity. Bullfighting and flamenco[16] were promoted as national traditions while those traditions not considered "Spanish" were suppressed. Franco's view of Spanish tradition was somewhat artificial and arbitrary: while some regional traditions were suppressed, Flamenco, an Andalusian tradition, was considered part of a larger, national identity. All cultural activities were subject to censorship, and many were plainly forbidden (often in an erratic manner). This cultural policy relaxed with time, most notably in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Franco was reluctant to enact any form of administrative and legislative decentralization and kept a fully centralized form of government with a similar administrative structure to that established by the House of Bourbon and General Miguel Primo de Rivera y Orbaneja. Such structures were both based in the model of the French centralised State.The main drawback of this kind of management is that government attention and initiatives were irregular, and often depended on the goodwill of regional Government representatives than on regional needs. Thus, inequalities in schooling, health care or transport facilities among regions were patent: classically affluent regions like Madrid, Catalonia, or the Basque Country fared much better than Extremadura, Galicia or Andalusia. Some regions, like Extremadura or La Mancha didn't have a university.

Franco dissolved the autonomy granted by the Spanish Republic to these two regions and to Galicia. Franco abolished the centuries-old fiscal privileges and autonomy (the fueros) in two of the three Basque provinces: Guipuzcoa and Biscay, but kept them for Alava. Among Franco's greatest area of support during the civil war was Navarre, also a Basque speaking region in its north half. Navarre remained a separated region from the Basque Country and Franco decided to preserve its also centuries' old fiscal privileges and autonomy, the so-called Fueros of Navarre.

Franco also used language politics in an attempt to establish national homogeneity. Despite Franco being Galician, in accordance with his nationalist principles, he abolished the official statute and recognition for the Basque, Galician, and Catalan languages that the Spanish Republic had granted for the first time in the history of Spain. He returned to Spanish as the only official language of the State and education, although millions of the country's citizens spoke other languages. The legal usage of languages other than Spanish was forbidden. All government, notarial, legal and commercial documents were to be drawn up exclusively in Spanish and any written in other languages were deemed null and void. The usage of any other language was forbidden in schools, in advertising, and on road and shop signs. Publications in other languages were generally forbidden, though citizens continued to speak other languages in private.

This was the situation throughout the forties and, to a lesser extent, during the fifties, but after 1960 the non-Castilian Spanish languages were freely spoken and written and reached books, plays, and films. Even so, non-Castilian languages continued to be discouraged and never received official status: all government, notarial, legal and commercial documents were still drawn up exclusively in Spanish and any written in other languages were deemed null and void.

Additionally, the popularization of the compulsory national educational system and the development of modern mass media, both controlled by the State and in Spanish language, and heavily reduced the number of speakers of Basque, Catalan and Galician, as happened during the second half of the twentieth century with other European minority languages which were not officially protected like Scottish Gaelic or French Breton. By the 1970s the majority of the population in the urban areas could not speak in the minority language or, as in some Catalan towns, their use had been abandoned. The most endangered case was the Basque language. By the 1970s Basque had reached the point where any further reduction in the number of Basque speakers would have not guaranteed the necessary generational renewal and it is now recognised that the language would have disappeared in only a few more decades. This was the main reason that drove the Francoist provincial government of Alava to create a network of Basque medium schools (Ikastola) in 1973 which were State financed.


Catholicism in its most conservative variant was made the official religion of the Spanish State, which enforced Catholic social mores. The remaining nomads of Spain (Gitanos and Mercheros like El Lute) were especially affected. The Spanish State enforced Catholic behavior mainly by using a law (the Ley de Vagos y Maleantes, Vagrancy Act) enacted by Azaña[17]. Civil servants had to be Catholic, and some official jobs even required a "good behavior" statement by a priest. Civil marriages which had taken place under Republican Spain were declared null and void and had to be reconfirmed by the Catholic Church of Spain. Civil marriages were only possible after the couple made a public renunciation to the Catholic Church. Divorce, contraceptives and abortion were forbidden. From 1954 onwards, homosexuality, pedophilia, and prostitution were criminal offenses[18], although the enforcement of this was seldom consistent.

Francoism professed a devotion to the traditional role of women in society, that is: loving child to her parents and brothers, faithful to her husband, residing with her family. Official propaganda confined her role to family care and motherhood. Immediately after the war the situation of women suddenly became adverse, because most progressive laws passed by the Republic were made void, correspondingly. Women could not become judges, or testify in trial. They could not become university professors. Their affairs and economy had to be managed by their father or by their husbands. Until the 1970s a woman could not have a bank account without a co-sign by her father or husband. In the 1960s and 1970s the situation was somewhat relieved, but it was not until Franco's death that a true equality with men became law.

Although a self-proclaimed monarchist, Franco had no particular desire for a king, due to his strained relations with the legitimate heir of the Crown, Don Juan de Borbón. Therefore, he left the throne vacant, with himself as de facto regent. In 1947 Franco proclaimed Spain a monarchy, through the Ley de Sucesión en la Jefatura del Estado act, but did not designate a monarch. Instead, he set the basis for his succession. This gesture was largely done to appease monarchist factions within the Movimiento. He wore the uniform of a captain general (a rank traditionally reserved for the King), resided in the royal Pardo Palace, appropriated the kingly privilege of walking beneath a canopy, and his portrait appeared on most Spanish coins. Indeed, although his formal titles were Jefe del Estado (Head of State) and Generalísimo de los Ejércitos Españoles (Generalissimo of the Spanish Armed Forces), he was referred to as Caudillo de España por la gracia de Dios, (by the Grace of God, the Leader of Spain). Por la Gracia de Dios is a technical, legal formulation which states sovereign dignity in absolute monarchies, and had only been used by monarchs before Franco used it himself. The long-delayed selection of Juan Carlos de Borbón as Franco's official successor in 1969 was an unpleasant surprise for many interested parties, as Juan Carlos was the rightful heir for neither the Carlists nor the Legitimists[citation needed].

Economic policy

See also: Economic history of Spain: Economy under Franco

1963 Spanish peseta coin with the image of Franco, saying Caudillo de España, por la gracia de Dios (Francisco Franco, Leader of Spain, by the grace of God).

The Civil War had ravaged the Spanish economy. Infrastructure had been damaged, workers killed, and daily business severely hampered. For more than a decade after Franco's victory, the economy improved little. Franco initially pursued a policy of autarky, cutting off almost all international trade. The policy had devastating effects, and the economy stagnated. Only black marketeers could enjoy an evident affluence.

In 1940, the "Vertical Trade Union" was created; it was inspired by the ideas of José Antonio Primo de Rivera[citation needed], who thought that class struggle would be ended by grouping together workers and owners according to corporative principles. It was the only legal trade union, and was under government control. Other trade unions were forbidden and strongly repressed along with political parties outside the FET-JONS.

On one occasion, a Czech engineer and con-man managed to convince the general that with the waters of the River Jarama and certain herbs and secret powders, Spain could get all the petroleum it needed. On another, he was convinced of a plan to solve the country’s terrible hunger of the 1940s by feeding the population of 30 million with dolphin sandwiches. (La Memoria Insumisa, Nicolás Sartorius y Javier Alfaya, 1999). Indeed in the background of these economic policies some 200,000 people died of hunger in the early years of Francoism, a period known as Los Años de Hambre (the Years of Hunger).

On the brink of bankruptcy, a combination of pressure from the USA, the IMF and technocrats from Opus Dei managed to “convince” the regime to adopt a free market economy in 1959 in what amounted to a mini coup d’etat which removed the old guard in charge of the economy, despite the opposition of Franco. This economic liberalisation was not, however, accompanied by political reforms and repression continued unabated, though these very reforms would lead to socio-economic changes in Spanish society which would make the regime’s continuation 16 years later untenable.[citation needed]

Economic growth picked up after 1959 after Franco took authority away from these ideologues and gave more power to the apolitical technocrats. The country implemented several development policies and growth took off creating the "Spanish Miracle". Concurrent with the absence of social reforms, and the economic power shift, a tide of mass emigration commenced: to European countries, and to lesser extent, to South America. Emigration helped the Régime in two ways: the country got rid of surplus population, and the emigrants supplied the country with much needed monetary remittances.

During the 1960s, the population, mainly the wealthier segments, experienced further increases in wealth, particularly those who remained politically faithful. International firms established their factories in Spain: salaries were low, taxes nearly non existent, strikes were forbidden, labour health or real state regulations were unheard of, and Spain was virtually a virgin market. Spain became the second-fastest growing economy in the world, just behind Japan). The rapid development of this period became known as the Spanish Miracle. At the time of Franco's death, Spain still lagged behind most of Western Europe, but the gap between its GDP per capita and that of the major Western European economies had greatly narrowed; in world terms, Spain was already enjoying a fairly high material standard of living with basic but comprehensive services. However, the period between the mid 1970s and mid 1980s was to prove difficult as, in addition to the oil shocks to which Spain was highly exposed, the settling of the new political order took priority over the modernising of the economy.


Franco is entombed in the monument of Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos.

In Spain and abroad, the legacy of Franco remains controversial. In Germany a squadron named after Werner Mölders has been renamed, because as a pilot he led the escorting units in the bombing of Guernica. As recently as 2006, the BBC reported that Maciej Giertych, an MEP of the right-wing League of Polish Families, had expressed admiration for Franco's stature who allegedly "guaranteed the maintenance of traditional values in Europe."[19]

But this is not the most shared opinion. Several statues of Franco and other public Francoist symbols have been removed, with the last statue in Madrid coming down in 2005.[20] Additionally, the Permanent Commission of the European Parliament "firmly" condemned in a resolution unanimously adopted in March 2006 the "multiple and serious violations" of human rights committed in Spain under the Francoist regime from 1939 to 1975.[21][22] The resolution was at the initiative of the MEP Leo Brincat and of the historian Luis María de Puig, and is the first international official condemnation of the repression enacted by Franco's regime.[21] The resolution also urged to provide public access to historians (professional and amateurs) to the various archives of the Francoist regime, including those of the Fundación Francisco Franco which, as well as other Francoist archives, remain as of 2006 inaccessible to the public.[21] Furthermore, it urged the Spanish authorities to set up an underground exhibition in the Valle de los Caídos monument, in order to explain the "terrible" conditions in which it was built.[21] Finally, it proposes the construction of monuments to commemorate Franco's victims in Madrid and other important cities.[21]

In Spain, a commission to repair the dignity and restitute the memory of the victims of Francoism (Comisión para reparar la dignidad y restituir la memoria de las víctimas del franquismo) was approved in the summer of 2004, and is directed by the vice-president María Teresa Fernández de la Vega.[21]

The late Franco was a prominent and frequent subject of jokes on early episodes of Saturday Night Live, see "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead".

Because of his language policies, Franco's legacy is still particularly poorly perceived in Catalonia and the Basque Country. The Basque Country and Catalonia were among the regions that offered the strongest resistance to Franco in the Civil War, but one of the strongest to his support during this regime.

Recently the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARHM) initiated a systematic search for mass graves of people executed during Franco's regime, which has been supported since the PSOE's victory during the 2004 elections by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's government. A Ley de la memoria histórica de España (Law on the Historical Memory of Spain) was passed in 2007.[23] The law is supposed to enforce an official recognition of the crimes committed against civilians during the Francoist rule and organize under state supervision the search for mass graves.

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b Laqueur, Walter Fascism: Past, Present, Future p. 13 1996 Oxford University Press
  3. ^ a b c De Menses, Filipe Ribeiro Franco and the Spanish Civil War, p. 87, Routledge
  4. ^ a b c Gilmour, David, The Transformation of Spain: From Franco to the Constitutional Monarchy, p. 7 1985 Quartet Books
  5. ^ a b c d Payne, Stanley Fascism in Spain, 1923–1977, p. 476 1999 Univ. of Wisconsin Press
  6. ^ a b c Payne, Stanley Fascism in Spain, 1923–1977, p. 347, 476 1999 Univ. of Wisconsin Press
  7. ^ "Censorship in Spain" TIME April 30, 1951
  8. ^ Graham, Helen and Labanyi, Jo (Eds.) Spanish Cultural Studies: An Introduction, p.260, 1995, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-815199-3
  9. ^ The World Bank. Spain. History
  10. ^ Dwight D. Eisenhower
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Laqueur, Walter Fascism: Past, Present, Future p. 13 1996 Oxford University Press
  13. ^ Laqueur, Walter Fascism: Past, Present, Future, p. 13, 1997 Oxford University Press US
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ "The Franco Years: Policies, Programs, and Growing Popular Unrest." A Country Study: Spain <>
  16. ^ Roman, Mar. "Spain frets over future of flamenco." 27 October 2007. Associated Press. [3]
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Europe diary: Franco and Finland, BBC News, 6 July 2006 (English)
  20. ^ Madrid removes last Franco statue, BBC News, 17 March 2005 (English)
  21. ^ a b c d e f Primera condena al régimen de Franco en un recinto internacional, EFE, El Mundo, 17 March 2006 (Spanish)
  22. ^ Von Martyna Czarnowska, Almunia, Joaquin: EU-Kommission (4): Ein halbes Jahr Vorsprung, Weiner Zeitung, 17 February 2005 (article in German language). Accessed 26 August 2006.
  23. ^ "Bones of Contention". The Economist. 2008-09-27. Archived from the original on 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 

Further reading

External links


Coordinates: 41°18′00″N 0°44′56″W / 41.300°N 0.749°W / 41.300; -0.749

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