Spain: From Franco to the PresentSpain under Franco

From Franco to the PresentSpain under Franco

A dictatorship was set up under Franco. The church was restored to its property and its favored position, although there was much friction between church and state. The Falange was made the sole legal party, and the leftist opposition was energetically suppressed. The Cortes and Catalonian and Basque autonomy were abolished. Although it gave aid to the Axis, Spain remained a nonbelligerent in World War II. The Cortes was reestablished in 1942. The United Nations, refusing to recognize the constitutionality of the Franco regime, urged its members in 1946 to break diplomatic relations with Spain; this resolution was not rescinded until 1950. Spain entered the United Nations in 1955. An agreement with the United States in 1953 provided for U.S. bases in Spain and for economic and military aid.

In 1956, Spanish Morocco became part of the independent state of Morocco; in 1968, Spanish Equatorial Guinea became independent; in 1969 Ifni was ceded to Morocco; and in 1976 Spanish Sahara was transferred to Morocco and Mauritania. In 1968 Spain closed its frontier with the British colony of Gibraltar, over which Spain has long claimed sovereignty. The border was reopened in 1985, and in 1987 Spain and Great Britain forged an agreement that would have allowed joint use of the Gibraltar airport, but Gibraltar rejected the agreement.

Political unrest, partly over the problem of succession to the Franco regime, became increasingly evident in the 1950s, and at the start of the 1960s the church, which had long been silent, began to voice some opposition to aspects of the dictatorship. In 1962 a series of strikes, beginning in the coal fields of Asturias, gave indication of widespread discontent. Student demonstrations also occurred. Basque separatism posed another serious problem for the regime.

A new organic law (constitution) was announced by Franco in 1966. It separated the posts of head of government and chief of state, provided for direct election of about one quarter of the members of the Cortes, gave married women the vote, made religious freedom a legal right, and ended Falange control of labor unions. The forming of new political parties was still discouraged. Press censorship was ended in 1966, but strong guidelines remained. Economically, Spain progressed dramatically in the 1960s and early 70s, stimulated in part by the liberal economic policies espoused by Opus Dei; growth was particularly pronounced in the tourist, automobile, and construction industries.

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