The Monarchy and the Transition to Democracy in Spain

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In the 1970s, the Spanish monarchy, represented by King Juan Carlos I, appeared in an unexpected role of the initiator of radical social change. Juan Carlos, the grandson of King Alfonso XIII, deposed in 1931, was brought up by Franco. After the death of Caudillo in November 1975, he assumed the post of head of state. Initially, the king, who shared liberal views, was in a very difficult situation. He was considered as a heir of Franco, he was deprived of democratic and dynastic legitimacy. Juan Carlos managed to appoint his trustees – T. Fernandez-Miranda and A. Souares to key government posts. They had carried out a number of reforms and as a result dismantled the authoritarian Franco regime and led the country to democracy. The king himself, remaining behind the scenes, acted as an arbiter, a “motor” and patron of the process of changes. In Spanish society, the indifference and even the negative attitude towards the monarchy was replaced by confidence in the necessity and usefulness of this institution. Unfortunately, in the last years of the reign of Juan Carlos, his popularity fell sharply due to corruption scandals in the royal family. However, giving an overall assessment of the role of Juan Carlos in Spanish history, the first place should be given to his services, not mistakes. The Spaniards at one time adopted a monarchy, because they were subdued by the king, and not by the monarchy as an institution.

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The election of a majority socialist government in October 1982 was not only an important milestone in the development of Spanish democracy but also a major event in the history of European socialism. In post-Franco Spain, the Spanish Socialists (PSOE) who had for so long existed only in exile or underground, quickly emerged as the major party of the Left and the main alternative to the Centre (UCD) Government of Adolfo Suarez. As the UCD disintegrated following the 1979 election, the PSOE, under the charismatic leadership of Felipe Gonzalez, became the dominant power in Spanish politics, and, after the victory of 1982, provided the young and fragile democracy with a firm, modernising, though economically cautious, government.
How can the extraordinary stock of social capital that underpinned the consolidation of democracy in Spain be explained? Certainly, it cannot be attributed to a vibrant and robust civil society. Nor can it be explained away as a product of Spanish history. Prior to the transition to democracy in 1977 there was no history in Spain of autonomous cooperation between the state and actors from civil society such as organized labor. Contemporary Spanish history is, after all, a long, tortuous tale of entrenched social conflict, especially class strife, which was at the heart of the Spanish Civil War and the collapse of the Second Republic. Moreover, the history of the labor movement in Spain, one of the pillars of the social concertation process, hardly predisposed it to engage in trust-based interactions with the state and the employers. The successful deployment of social concertation in Spain is more compelling still because attempts to erect analogous policies of negotiation and compromise by other democratizing societies have failed to get off the ground and have had the unintended out-come of exacerbating rather than alleviating social conflict. As shown in chapter 5, a dearth of trust among the social partners explains the failure of social pacts as a means for assisting in consolidating democracy in Brazil.
At the very heart of Spain’s democratization is the apparent puzzle of how this country, a paradigm of democratic consolidation among so-called Third Wave democracies, managed to accomplish this seemingly elusive feat in the absence of the civic traditions usually attached to strong civil societies. More impressive still is that since the demise of the Franco regime in 1977, Spain has consolidated democratic institutions and practices at a faster and more meaningful pace than almost any other society that in recent decades has abandoned authoritarian rule and embraced democratic governance. This long and varied roster of cases includes nations (such as Brazil) widely noted for the expansive and highly mobilized nature of their civil societies. Yet, at least within the context of the Iberian-Latin world, few nations have undertaken to consolidate democratic rule with a civil society deficit as egregious as that found in Spain. As illustrated in this chapter, neither from an historical standpoint, nor especially from a contemporary one, does Spain resemble in any significant way the models of civil society strength developed by civil society theorists.
Electoral continuity and discontinuity have been a staple of voting research for decades. Most researchers have employed Pearson’s r as a measure of congruence between two electoral outcomes across a set of geographic units. This paper argues that that practice should be abandoned. The correlation coefficient is a measure of linearity, not similarity, and is almost always the wrong measure. The paper recommends other quantities that better accord with what researchers usually mean by electoral persistence. Replications of prior studies in American and comparative politics demonstrate that the consequences of using r when it is inappropriate can be stark. In some cases what we think are continuities are actually discontinuities.
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Regional inequalities in economic development in Spain are widely recognised, but similar patterns of levels of living have been less studied. Some of the general factors which might contribute to regional inequalities are discussed. Although it is difficult to identify their precise role, it is argued that the pattern of economic growth, the character of regional economic structures, population distribution and urbanisation, return migration, and the nature of Spanish regional and local government all contribute in varying ways to inequalities in levels of living in different regions. Furthermore, they suggest that such inequalities have persisted throughout the 1970''s. The regional patterns are then described and trends of change between 1970 and 1981 examined. The evidence suggests that the decade saw a widening dichotomy in levels of living in Spain with the south and west showing deterioration and the N and E showing relative improvement.
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