Francoism's Fall and Democracy's Distention

Removal of the last statue of Franco.
Removal of the last statue of Franco.
In 1975, Francisco Franco became ill and Juan Carlos succeeded him as head of state. Franco died shortly after. Juan Carlos, having more liberal and democratic principles, appointed Adolfo Suarez as prime minister to reform Spain's government. Suarez was in favor of political parties and promised elections within the first year of his entering office. In 1977, Spain held it's first elections in over 40 years, since the civil war. The new parliament, which included 34% of Suarez's Union of the Democratic Center, was called the Cortez. The Cortez drafted a new constitution with democratic standards which was widely accepted by voters in the crucial referendum of 1978. A definite majority of the Spanish people voted in favor of the new constitution. (²)

This new constitution permitted the regionalization of Spanish government. Within the first 10 years of the new constitution's establishment, 17 different regions held elections and acknowledged as local autonomous governments. In addition, the restriction of the use of
Galician, Basque and Catalan, was lifted and, eventually, made co-official in their corresponding regions. (¹)

The
constitution also abrogated the Catholic Church as the official religion of the country. During Franco's rule, all public schools revolved around Catholic worship and ideals. Today, with the 1978 constitution in place, public schools are religiously neutral. (²)

The end of Francoism was a great relief to Spanish citizens. La Movida Madrileña was the beginning of a new and liberated Spain. Click on the Movida link or listen to Iñaki Gonzalo, a Spanish citizen, talk about the end of Franco's rule below to learn more.



-Nicholas Ekblad
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Sources:
¹ The Transition to Democracy in Spain & Portugal by Howard J. Wiarda
² http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2878.htm