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The Franquist Regime and the Dilemma of Succession

  • Donald Share

This article explores the Spanish franquist regime's attempts to resolve a succession crisis, as the death of Francisco Franco appeared imminent in the late 1960's. It argues that Franco established the mechanisms for a smooth succession to the posts of head of state and head of government. However, these mechanisms failed to achieve Franco's major goal: the continuation of authoritarian rule after his death. Ironically, Franco's apparently ingenious “solution” to the dilemmas of succession facilitated a democratic transition that would have horrified the dictator.

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1 Some of the research for this article was conducted as part of the author's doctoral dissertation, “Transition Through Transaction: The Politics of Democratization in Spain, 1975–1977” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford University, 1983). Generalizations about authoritarian regimes contained herein are based mainly on the author's familiarity with the regions of Western Europe and Latin America.

2 On the first four years of the PSOE government, see Share, Donald, “Four Years of Socialist Government in Spain: Tensions and Successes in the Consolidation of Party and Regime” (Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., 08 1986).

3 Support for this statement is found in my “Democratization in Spain: Searching for Explanations” (Delivered at the Ninth Annual European Studies Conference University of Nebraska at Omaha, 1984).

4 This paper does not have as its focus the transition to democracy or the consolidation of democratic rule. Rather, the emphasis is on the dilemmas facing authoritarian regimes and the mechanisms through which they attempt to cope with changes of leadership.

5 As noted in the concluding section of this article, this appears to make the Spanish case similar to the Portuguese case after Salazar, and contemporary Chile and Paraguay.

6 On Spain's democratization after Franco see Share, Donald, The Making of Spanish Democracy (New York: Praeger Publishers and the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, 1986).

7 For a working definition of an authoritarian regime see Linz, Juan J., “Opposition in and Under an Authoritarian Regime: The Case of Spain” in Regimes and Opposition, ed. Dahl, Robert (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), p. 185.

8 A good discussion is Chang, Maria, “Playing Ostrich: Taiwan's Succession Predicament” (Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Political Science Association, Eugene, Oregon, 03 1986).

9 Linz, , “Opposition in and Under an Authoritarian Regime,” p. 188.

10 For an excellent discussion of authoritarian coalition management, see Schmitter, Philippe C., “Liberation by Golpe” in Armed Forces and Society, 1 (Fall 1975), 1314.

11 Giner, Salvador, “Political Economy, Legitimation and the State in Southern Europe,” The British Journal of Sociology, 2 (06 1982), 189.

12 Linz, , “Opposition in and Under an Authoritarian Regime,” p. 193.

13 For an illustration of this point from the Brazilian case, see Schneider, Ronald M., “The Brazilian Military in Politics” in The New Militarism in Latin America, ed. Wesson, Robert (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1982), pp. 5869.

14 Marcello Caetano's ill-fated experience in Portugal, after Salazar became incapacitated, is an excellent illustration of this point. For a detailed description see Schmitter, , “Liberation by Golpe.”

15 This point is elaborated in Przeworski, Adam, “Notes on the Logic of the Transition to Democracy,” presented at a workshop on “Prospects for Democracy: Transitions from Authoritarianism in Latin America and Latin Europe” (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 09 1979), p. 5.

16 Schmitter, , “Liberation by Golpe,” p. 25.

17 An outstanding analysis of this period is Linz, Juan, “From Great Hopes to Civil War: The Breakdown of Democracy in Spain” in The Breakdown of Democratic Regimes: Europe, ed. Linz, and Stepan, A. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1978).

18 Among the surprisingly few works on Franco are Salgado, Francisco Franco, Mis conversaciones privadas con Franco (Madrid: Union, 1976) and Bayod, Angel, ed., Franco visto por sus ministros (Barcelona: Planeta, 1981).

19 Payne, Stanley, Franco's Spain (New York: Thomas Cromwell, 1967), pp. 1213, gives a cursory treatment of this period.

20 Alba, Carlos R., “The Organization of Authoritarian Leadership: Franco Spain” in Presidents and Prime Ministers, ed. Rose, R. and Suleiman, E. (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1982), p. 259.

21 Robinson, Richard A. H., The Origins of Franco's Spain (London: David and Charles, 1970).

22 On franquist families, see de Miquel, Amando, Sociología del franquismo: analisis ideologico de los ministros del regimen (Barcelona: Euros, 1975).

23 On the Falange, see Payne, Stanley, Falange: A History of Spanish Fascism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1961). On the creation of the National Movement, see Linz, Juan, “From Falange to Movimiento-Organización: The Spanish Single Party and the Franco Regime, 1936–1968” in Authoritarian Politics in Modern Society (New York: Basic Books, 1979).

24 Payne, , Franco's Spain, pp. 2425.

25 Two overviews of the period are contained in the historical works of Castro, Ignacio Fernandez, De las cortes de Cadiz al postfranquismo, vol. 1 (Barcelona: El Viejo Topo, 1981) and de la Cierva, Ricardo, Historia del Franquismo (Barcelona: Planeta, 1978).

26 Linz, , “Opposition in and Under an Authoritarian Regime,” esp. pp. 188–94.

27 For the more detailed analysis of the franquist families and their international disputes, see Share, , Making of Spanish Democracy, chap. 3.

28 Carr, Raymond and Fusi, Juan Pablo, Spain: Dictatorship to Democracy, 2nd ed. (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1981), pp. 168–74.

29 The Opus Dei, literally “God's Work,” is an international Catholic lay organization, shrouded in secrecy. In Spain, the members were mainly from the middle and upper classes, largely upwardly mobile professionals, and often technocrats. The Opus, whose founder was a Spaniard, gained tremendous influence in Spain during the 1950's and 1960's, by placing its members in positions of influence in universities, government and private enterprise. While the organization has no official ideology, its members in Spain were identified with a technocratic authoritarian mentality, that combined economic liberalism with political conservatism.

30 For an overview of Spain's relations with the United States during franquism, see Rubottom, R. and Murphy, J., Spain and the United States (New York: Praeger, 1984).

31 A good treatment of political economic policy during franquism is González, Manual Jesus, Le economia politico del franquismo, 1940–1970 (Madrid: Tencos, 1979).

32 MATESA was a textile conglomerate, found guilty of diverting huge amounts of state investment credits into bank accounts. Three Opus Dei ministers were directly implicated.

33 On the first post-civil war generation, see Lizcano, Pablo, La generación del '56 (Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1981).

31 On the growing regional imbalances see McMillon, Charles W., “International Integration and Intra-National Disintegration,” Comparative Politics (04 1981). On the growing tension in church-state relations, see Cooper, Norman B., Catholicism and the Franco Regime (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1974) and Payne, Stanley, Spanish Catholicism: An Historical Overview (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984).

35 By far the most revealing reading on the designation of Juan Carlos as successor is Rodó, Laureano López, La larga marcha hacia la monarquia, Seventh Edition (Barcelona: Plaza and Janes, 1979). López Rodó was a prominent Opus Dei minister in the 1960's and early 1970's, and was personally involved in the plans to name Juan Carlos as successor.

36 During interviews with some of Franco's closest collaborators, conducted in 1981, the dictator's stubbornness on this matter was consistently noted. It appears that many franquist elites were increasingly concerned about the power vacuum that could develop after Franco's death, and they were interested in a speedy resolution of the matter. For further evidence on this point, see Rodó, López, La larga marcha, pp. 570 ff.

37 See Carr, and Fusi, , Spain, Dictatorship to Democracy, p. 172, for elaboration of this theme.

38 Two works examine the difficult position of Juan Carlos before his coronation. See Alba, Victor, La soledad del Rey (Barcelona: Planeta, 1981) and Bardavío, Joaquín, Los silencios del Rey (Madrid: Strips, 1979).

39 Eaton, Samuel, The Forces of Freedom in Spain, 1974–1979: A Personal Account (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1981), p. 31.

40 See Rodó, López, La larga marcha, for extensive evidence supporting this point.

41 For more background on the political system of franquist Spain see Medhurst, Kenneth N., The Government of Spain: The Executive at Work (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1973).

42 Carr, and Fusi, , Spain, Dictatorship to Democracy, p. 180.

43 On Carrero Blanco's first government, see Rodó, López, La larga marcha, pp. 587606.

44 Quoted in Betriu, Rafael Borrás, El día en que mataron a Carrero Blanco (Barcelona: Planeta, 1974), p. 194.

45 Rodó, López, La larga marcha, pp. 607608.

46 On Fernández Miranda, see Alcocer, José Luis, Fernández Miranda: Angonía de un Estado, 2nd ed. (Barcelona: Planeta, 1986).

47 On Arias and his reform attempt, see Osorio, Alfonso, Trayectoria política de un ministro de la corona, 2nd ed. (Barcelona: Planeta, 1974), pp. 5055.

48 A more detailed discussion appears in Share, , Making of Spanish Democracy, chap. 3.

49 Eaton, , Forces of Freedom in Spain, 1974–1979, gives an accurate description of this period.

50 King Juan Carlos was virtually forced to appoint Arias, since the terna (a list of three nominees from which he must select the president) drawn up by the Council of the Realm included two more authoritarian candidates. Arias was the lesser of evils. See Payne, Stanley, “The Political Transformation of Spain,” Current History, 431 (1977), 14; and Alba, Victor, La soledad, p. 256.

51 See ABC, 2 and 6 12 1975, for some examples.

52 Newsweek, 26 04 1976.

53 Among the best works on Suárez are Morán, Gregorio, Adolfo Suarez: Historia de una ambición, 3rd ed. (Barcelona: Planeta, 1979); Chamorro, Eduardo, Viaje al centra de UCD (Barcelona: Planeta, 1981); Ysart, Federico, ¿ Quién hizo el cambio? (Barcelona: Argos Vergara, 1984).

54 Suarez convinced conservative franquist politicians that the future political system would keep the Left from power, and that only through “transactive democratization” could their power be perpetuated. More importantly, he convinced the armed forces that the Communist party would not be legalized, and that the regional decentralization would be very limited. These important negotiations are discussed in Share, , Making of Spanish Democracy, chap. 4.

55 On the UCD, see Huneeus, Carlos, La Union de Centro Demoráticoy la transición a la democracia en España (Madrid: Centro de investigaciones Sociológicas, 1985; and Attard, Emilio, Vida y muerte de UCD (Barcelona: Planeta, 1983).

56 That Juan Carlos took a large gamble in appointing Suárez is often forgotten. In fact, the initial public reaction to Suárez's selection was very negative. Only the franquist Right seemed satisfied by the naming of the ex-secretary general of the National Movement. The democratic opposition and the press viewed the king's move as too timid.

57 See Lizcano, , La generación del '56.

58 Among the most important works are Santamaría, Julián, ed., Transición a la democracia en el sur de Europa y América Latina (Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 1981); Vicuña, Francisco Orrego, ed., Transición a la democracia en América Latina (Buenos Aires: Grupo Editor Latinoamericano, 1985); O'Donnell, Guillermo, Schmitter, Philippe and Whitehead, Laurence, eds., Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Southern Europe and Latin America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986); Share, Donald and Mainwaring, Scott, “Transitions Through Transactions: Democratization in Brazil and Spain” in Political Liberalization in Brazil, ed. Selcher, Wayne A. (Boulder: Westview Press, 1986).

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