Spanish transition to democracy

The Spanish transition to democracy (Spanish: Transición española a la democracia, IPA: [tɾan.siˈθjon es.paˈɲ a la de.moˈkɾa.θja]), known in Spain as the Transition (Spanish: La Transición, IPA: [la tɾan.siˈθjon]), or the Spanish transition (Spanish: Transición española, IPA: [tɾan.siˈθjon es.paˈɲ]) is a period of modern Spanish history, that started on 20 November 1975, the date of death of Francisco Franco, who had established a military dictatorship after the victory of the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. However, historians disagree on the exact date the transition was completed:[1] some say it ended after the 1977 general election; while others place it later, when the 1978 Constitution was approved. Others suggest it ended with the failure of the 1981 attempted coup d'état. At its latest, the Transition is said to have ended with the first peaceful transfer of executive power, after the victory of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) in the 1982 general election.

People waiting to vote in the 1977 general election in Toledo. The 1977 general election was the first free election since February 1936.

Political role of Juan Carlos I

Francisco Franco came to power in 1939, following the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), and ruled as a dictator until his death in 1975. In 1969, he designated Prince Juan Carlos, grandson of Spain's most recent king, Alfonso XIII, as his official successor. For the next six years, Prince Juan Carlos initially remained in the background during public appearances and seemed ready to follow in Franco's footsteps. Once in power as King of Spain, however, he facilitated the development of a constitutional monarchy as his father, Don Juan de Borbón, had advocated since 1946.

The transition was an ambitious plan that counted on ample support both within and outside of Spain. Western governments, headed by the United States, now favoured a Spanish constitutional monarchy, as did many Spanish and international liberal capitalists.

Nevertheless, the transition proved challenging, as the spectre of the Civil War still haunted Spain. Francoists on the far right enjoyed considerable support within the Spanish Army, and people of the left distrusted a king who owed his position to Franco.

The realisation of the democratic project required that the leftist opposition restrain its own most radical elements from provocation, and that the army refrain from intervening in the political process on behalf of Francoist elements within the existing government.

King Juan Carlos I began his reign as head of state without leaving the confines of Franco's legal system. As such, he swore fidelity to the Principles of the Movimiento Nacional (National Movement), the political system of the Franco era; took possession of the crown before the Francoist Cortes Españolas; and respected the Ley Orgánica del Estado (Organic Law of the State) for the appointment of his first head of government. Only in his speech before the Cortes did he indicate his support for a transformation of the Spanish political system.

The government of Carlos Arias Navarro (November 1975 – July 1976)

Manuel Fraga durante la Transicion (cropped)
Manuel Fraga Iribarne, the most important Minister of the Arias Navarro government

The King did not initially appoint a new prime minister, leaving in place the incumbent head of government under Franco, Carlos Arias Navarro. Arias Navarro had not initially planned a reform of the Francoist regime; in the National Council of the Movement, an advisory assembly of the ruling FET y de las JONS (Falange) party and other groups in the Movimiento Nacional, he declared that the purpose of his government was the continuity of Francoism through a "democracy in the Spanish way" (Spanish: democracia a la española).[2][3] He believed political changes should be limited: he would give the parliament, the Cortes Españolas, the task of "updating our laws and institutions the way Franco would have wanted."[4]

The reform programme adopted by the government was the one proposed by Manuel Fraga, rejecting Antonio Garrigues' plan to elect a constituent assembly. Fraga's programme aimed to achieve a "liberal democracy" that was "comparable to rest of Western European countries" through a "gradual and controlled process", through a series of reforms of the pseudo-constitutional Fundamental Laws of the Realm. This is why his proposal was dubbed as a "reform in the continuity", and his support came mostly from those who defended a Francoist sociological model.[5]

In order for reform to succeed, it had to earn the support of the hardcore Francoist faction known as the Búnker, which had a major presence in the Cortes and the National Council of the Movement, the two institutions that would have to eventually approve the reforms of the Fundamental Laws. It also had to garner support within the Armed Forces and in the Spanish Labour Organisation. Besides, it needed to please the democratic opposition to Francoism. The approach towards the dissenters was that they would not be part of the reform process, but would be allowed to participate in politics more generally, with the exception of the Communist Party (PCE).[5] This conservative reform was partly inspired by the historical period of the semi-democratic Bourbonic Restoration (1876–1931), and it was criticised for not taking into account the social and political circumstances of the time.[6]

The project coalesced into a proposal to reform three of the Fundamental Laws, but the exact changes would be determined by a mixed commission of the Government and the National Council of the Movement, as proposed by Torcuato Fernández-Miranda and Adolfo Suárez.[7] The creation of the commission meant that Fraga and the reformists lost control of much of the legislative direction of the country;[8] the reformists had been planning updated "Laws of Assembly and Association", which included a reform of the Spanish Criminal Code. Even so, the new Law of Assembly was passed by the Francoist Cortes on 25 May 1976, allowing public demonstration with government authorization.[9] On the same day the Law of Political Associations was also approved, supported by Suárez, who affirmed in parliamentary session that "if Spain is plural, the Cortes cannot afford to deny it". Suárez's intervention in favor of this reform shocked many, including Juan Carlos I.[10] This intervention was key in Juan Carlos' decision to appoint Suárez as Prime Minister in the following month.[11]

The Arias-Fraga reform collapsed on 11 June, when the Cortes rejected changes to the Criminal Code, which had previously made it a crime to be affiliated with a political party other than FET y de las JONS.[12] The members of the Cortes, who vehemently opposed the legalization of the Communist Party, added an amendment to the law that banned political organizations that "submitted to an international discipline" and "advocated for the implantation of a totalitarian regime". Javier Tusell pointed out that "those who in the past were in bed with totalitarianism now felt entitled to prohibit the totalitarianism of others". The reforms of the Fundamental Laws governing royal succession and the composition of the Cortes, designed by Fraga, also failed. Fraga had intended to make the Cortes bicameral, with one chamber elected by universal suffrage and the other having an "organic" character.[13][14]

First government of Adolfo Suárez (July 1976 – June 1977)

Adolfo Suarez 03 cropped
Adolfo Suárez in 1981

Torcuato Fernández-Miranda, the president of the Council of the Kingdom, placed Adolfo Suárez on a list of three candidates for King Juan Carlos to choose to become the new head of government, replacing Arias Navarro. The king chose Suárez because he felt he could meet the challenge of the difficult political process that lay ahead: persuading the Cortes (Spanish parliament), which was composed of installed Francoist politicians, to dismantle Franco's system. In this manner he would formally act within the Francoist legal system and thus avoid the prospect of military intervention in the political process. Suárez was appointed as the 138th Prime Minister of Spain by Juan Carlos on 3 July 1976, a move opposed by leftists and some centrists given his Francoist history.

As Prime Minister, Suárez quickly presented a clear political program based on two points:

  • The development of a Law for Political Reform that, once approved by the Cortes and the Spanish public in a referendum, would open the constituent process for creating a liberal democracy in Spain.
  • A call for democratic elections in June 1977 to elect a Cortes charged with drawing up a new democratic constitution.

This program was clear and unequivocal, but its realization tested the political capacity of Suárez. He had to convince both the opposition to participate in his plan and the army to allow the process to run uninterrupted, and at the same time needed to bring the situation in the Basque Country under control.

Despite these challenges, Suárez's project was carried out without delay between July 1976 and June 1977. He had to act on many fronts during this short period of time in order to achieve his

Federica Montseny speaking at the meeting of the CNT in Barcelona in 1977, after 36 years of exile

The draft of the Law for Political Reform (Ley para la Reforma Política) was written by Don Torcuato Fernández-Miranda, speaker of the Cortes, who handed it over to the Suárez government in July 1976. The project was approved by the Suarez Government in September 1976.[15] To open the door to parliamentary democracy in Spain, this legislation could not simply create a new political system by eliminating the obstacles put in place by the Franco regime against democracy: it had to liquidate the Francoist system through the Francoist Cortes itself. The Cortes, under the presidency of Fernández-Miranda, debated this law throughout the month of November; it ultimately approved it, with 425 votes in favor, 59 against, and 13 abstentions.

The Suárez government sought to gain further legitimacy for the changes through a popular referendum. On 15 December 1976, with a 77.72% participation rate, 94% of voters indicated their support for the changes. From this moment, it was possible to begin the electoral process (the second part of the Suárez program), which would serve to elect the members of the Constituent Cortes, the body that was to be responsible for creating a democratic constitution.[16]

With this part of his plan fulfilled, Suárez had to resolve another issue: should he include the opposition groups who had not participated at the beginning of the transition? Suárez also had to deal with a third problem: coming to terms with the anti-Francoist opposition.

Relations of the Suárez government with the opposition

Suárez adopted a series of measured policies to add credibility to his project. He issued a partial political amnesty in July 1976, freeing 400 prisoners; he then extended this in March 1977, and finally granted a blanket amnesty in May of the same year. In December 1976, the Tribunal de Orden Público (TOP), a sort of Francoist secret police, was dissolved. The right to strike was legalized in March 1977, with the right to unionize being granted the following month. Also in March a new electoral law (Ley Electoral) introduced the necessary framework for Spain's electoral system to be brought into accord with those of other countries that were liberal parliamentary democracies.

Through these and other measures of government, Suárez complied with the conditions that the opposition groups first demanded in 1974. These opposition forces met in November 1976 to create a platform of democratic organizations.

Suárez had initiated political contact with the opposition by meeting with Felipe González, secretary general of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), in August 1976. The positive attitude of the socialist leader gave further support for Suárez to carry forward his political project, but everyone clearly perceived that the big problem for the political normalization of the country would be the legalization of the Communist Party of Spain (Partido Comunista de España, PCE), which at the time had more activists than and was more organized than any other group in the political opposition. However, in a meeting between Suárez and the most important military leaders in September, the officers strongly declared opposition to the legalization of the PCE.

The PCE, for its part, acted ever more publicly to express its opinions. According to the Communists, the Law for Political Reform was anti-democratic, and, moreover, the elections for the Constituent Cortes should be called by a provisional government that formed part of the political forces of the opposition. The opposition did not show any enthusiasm for the Law for Political Reform. Suárez had to risk even more to involve the opposition forces in his plan.

In December 1976, the PSOE celebrated its 27th Congress in Madrid, and began to disassociate itself from the demands of the PCE, affirming that it would participate in the next call for elections for the Constituent Cortes. At the beginning of 1977, the year of the elections, Suárez decided to confront the problem of legalizing the PCE. After the public indignation aroused by the Massacre of Atocha in January 1977 against trade unionists and Communists, Suárez decided to talk with PCE secretary general Santiago Carrillo in February. Carrillo's willingness to cooperate without prior demands and his offer of a "social pact" for the period after the elections pushed Suárez to take the riskiest step of the transition: the legalization of the PCE in April 1977. However, throughout this critical period the government began a strategy of providing greater institutional space to the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) Socialist union in comparison to the then Communist-oriented CCOO. The manner in which a unified trade union was strategically countered is an important feature of the Spanish transition as it limited radical opposition and created the basis for a fractured industrial relations system.

Relations of the Suárez government with the Spanish army

Adolfo Suárez knew well that the Búnker—a group of hard-line Francoists led by José Antonio Girón and Blas Piñar, using the newspapers El Alcázar and Arriba as their mouthpieces—had close contacts with officials in the army and exercised influence over important sectors of the military. These forces could constitute an insurmountable obstacle if they brought about military intervention against political reform.

To resolve the issue, Suárez intended to support himself with a liberal group within the military, centered on General Díez Alegría. Suárez decided to give the members of this group the positions of authority with the most responsibility. The most notable personality of this faction within the army was General Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado. However, in July 1976, the Vice President for Defense Affairs was General Fernando de Santiago, a member of a hardline group within the army. De Santiago had shown his restlessness before, during the first amnesty in July 1976. He had opposed the law granting the right to unionize. Suárez dismissed Fernando de Santiago, nominating Gutiérrez Mellado instead. This confrontation with General de Santiago caused a large part of the army to oppose Suárez, opposition that further intensified when the PCE was legalized.

Meanwhile, Gutiérrez Mellado promoted officials who supported political reform and removed those commanders of security forces (Policía Armada and the Guardia Civil) who seemed to support preserving the Francoist regime.

Suárez wanted to demonstrate to the army that the political normalization of the country meant neither anarchy nor revolution. In this, he counted on the cooperation of Santiago Carrillo, but he could in no way count on the cooperation of terrorist groups.

Resurgence of terrorist activity

The Basque Country remained, for the better part of this period, in a state of political turbulence. Suárez granted a multi-stage amnesty for numerous Basque political prisoners, but the confrontations continued between local police and protesters. ETA, which in the middle of 1976 had seemed open to a limited truce after Franco's death, resumed armed confrontation again in October. The time from 1978 to 1980 would be ETA's three deadliest years ever.[17] However, it was between December 1976 and January 1977 that a series of attacks brought about a situation of high tension in Spain.

The Maoist GRAPO (Grupos de Resistencia Antifascista Primero de Octubre) began its armed struggle by bombing public locations, and then continued with the kidnapping of two important figures of the regime: the President of the Council of the State José María de Oriol, and General Villaescusa, President of the Superior Council of the Military Justice. From the right, during these kidnappings, members of the neo-fascist Alianza Apostólica Anticomunista murdered five members of the PCE, three of them labor lawyers, in an office on Atocha Street in Madrid in January 1977.

In the midst of these provocations, Suárez convened his first meeting with a significant number of opposition leaders, who published a condemnation of terrorism and gave their support to Suárez's actions. During this turbulent time, the Búnker capitalized on the instability and declared that the country was on the brink of chaos.

Despite the increased violence by the ETA and GRAPO, elections for the Constituent Cortes were carried out in June 1977.

First elections and the draft of the Constitution

Political posters in an exhibition celebrating 20 years of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.

The elections held on 15 June 1977 confirmed the existence of four important political forces at the national level. The votes broke down in the following manner:

With the success of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV, Partido Nacionalista Vasco) and the Democratic Pact for Catalonia (PDC, Pacte Democrátic per Catalunya) in their respective regions, nationalist parties also began to show their political strength in these elections.

The Constituent Cortes (elected Spanish parliament) began to draft a constitution in the middle of 1977. In 1978 the Moncloa Pact was passed: an agreement amongst politicians, political parties, and trade unions to plan how to operate the economy during the transition.[19] The Spanish Constitution of 1978 went on to be approved in a referendum on 6 December 1978.[20]

Governments of the UCD

Prime Minister Adolfo Suárez's party, the Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD), received a plurality, but not an absolute majority, in both the June 1977 and March 1979 elections. To exercise power, the UCD had to form parliamentary coalitions with other political parties. The government spent much of its time from 1979 working to hold together the many factions within the party itself, as well as their coalitions. In 1980, the Suárez government had for the most part accomplished its goals of transition to democracy and lacked a further clear agenda. Many UCD members were fairly conservative and did not want further change. For example, a bill to legalize divorce caused much dissension inside the UCD, in spite of being supported by the majority of the populace. The UCD coalition fell apart.

The clashes among the several factions inside the party eroded Suárez's authority and his role as leader. The tension exploded in 1981: Suárez resigned as the head of government, and Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo was appointed, first to lead the new cabinet and later to the presidency of the UCD; social democrats led by Francisco Fernández Ordóñez defected from the coalition, later joining the PSOE, while Christian democrats left to form the People's Democratic Party.

While the democratic normalization had succeeded in convincing ETA (pm), the "political-military" faction of ETA, to abandon arms and enter parliamentary politics, it did not stop the continuation of terrorist attacks by ETA (m) ("ETA Military"; later simply "ETA"), and, to a lesser extent, by GRAPO. Meanwhile, restlessness in various sections of the armed forces created fear of an impending military coup. The attempted coup known as 23-F, in which Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero led an occupation by a group of Guardia Civil of the Congress of Deputies on the afternoon of 23 February 1981 failed, but demonstrated the existence of insurrectionary elements within the army.

First government of Felipe González (1982–1986)

Calvo Sotelo dissolved parliament and called elections for October 1982. In the 1979 election the UCD had achieved a plurality, but in 1982 it suffered a spectacular defeat with only 11 seats in the Parliament. The elections gave an absolute majority to the PSOE, which had already spent many years preparing its image of an alternative government.

At the 28th Congress of the PSOE (May 1979), secretary-general Felipe González resigned rather than ally with the strong revolutionary elements that seemed to dominate the party. A special congress was called that September, and realigned the party along more moderate lines, renouncing Marxism and allowing González to take charge once more.

Throughout 1982, the PSOE confirmed its moderate orientation and brought in the social democrats who had just broken from the UCD.

Winning an absolute majority in parliament in two consecutive elections (1982 and 1986), and exactly half the seats in 1989, allowed the PSOE to legislate and govern without establishing pacts with the other parliamentary political forces. In this way, the PSOE could make laws to achieve the goals of its political program, "el cambio" ("the change"). At the same time, the PSOE led many local and regional administrations. This comfortable political majority allowed the PSOE to give the country a long period of tranquility and stability, after the intense years of the transition.

See also


  1. ^ Ortuño Anaya, Pilar (2005). Los socialistas europeos y la transición española (1959–1977) [European socialists and the Spanish transition (1959–1977)] (in Spanish). Madrid: Marcial Pons. p. 22. ISBN 84-95379-88-0. Con respecto al final del proceso de la transición española, existen diferencias de opinión entre los especialistas de este periodo.
  2. ^ Tusell 1977, p. 22
  3. ^ Ruiz 2002, p. 21
  4. ^ Gil Pecharromán 2008, p. 329
  5. ^ a b Juliá 1999, p. 215
  6. ^ Tusell 1977, p. 19
  7. ^ Tusell 1977, p. 21
  8. ^ Gil Pecharromán 2008, p. 30
  9. ^ Juliá 1999, p. 215-16
  10. ^ Tusell 1977, p. 22
  11. ^ Gil Pecharromán 2008, p. 331
  12. ^ Juliá 1999, p. 216
  13. ^ Tusell 1977, p. 23-24
  14. ^ Ruiz 2002, p. 26
  15. ^ "Historia de un Cambio". Ayuntamiento de Dúrcal. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007.
  16. ^ Jiménez-Díaz, José-Francisco (2016): “Adolfo Suárez González”, in Jiménez-Díaz, José-Francisco & Delgado-Fernández, Santiago -Editors-: Political Leadership in the Spanish Transition to Democracy (1975–1982). Nueva York: Nova Science Publishers, 2016, pp. 41-58.
  17. ^ "Acciones Terroristas: Víctimas Policiales de ETA". La Guardia Civil.
  18. ^ "Appendix A: Table 2. Selected Election Results for the Congress of Deputies, 1977–86". Country Studies: Spain. Library of Congress.
  19. ^ Gonzalo Garland study case Spain: from Transition to modern times
  20. ^ Edles, L.D.; Seidman, S. (1998). Symbol and Ritual in the New Spain: The Transition to Democracy After Franco. Cambridge Cultural Social Studies. Cambridge University Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-521-62885-3. Retrieved April 22, 2018.


  • Gil Pecharromán, Julio (2008). Con permiso de la autoridad. La España de Franco (1939–-1975) [With Permission from Authoritary: Franco's Spain (1939–1975)] (in Spanish). Madrid: Temas de Hoy. ISBN 978-84-8460-693-2.
  • Juliá, Santos (1999). Un siglo de España. Política y sociedad [A century of Spain. Politics and society] (in Spanish). Madrid. ISBN 84-9537903-1.
  • Preston, Paul (2003). Juan Carlos. El Rey de un pueblo [Juan Carlos. The King of a people] (in Spanish). Barcelona: Plaza & Janés. ISBN 84-01-37824-9.
  • Ruiz, David (2002). La España democrática (1975–2000). Política y sociedad [Democratic Spain (1975–2000). Politics and society] (in Spanish). Madrid: Síntesis. ISBN 84-9756-015-9.
  • Tusell, Javier (1977). La transición española. La recuperación de las libertades [The Spanish transition. The recovery of liberties] (in Spanish). Temas de Hoy: Madrid. ISBN 84-7679-327-8.
  • Josep Colomer. Game Theory and the Transition to Democracy. The Spanish Model, Edward Elgar, 1995.
  • Daniele Conversi. 'The smooth transition: Spain's 1978 Constitution and the nationalities question', National Identities, vol. 4, no 3, November 2002, pp. 223–244
  • Richard Gunther ed. Politics, Society, and Democracy: The Case of Spain. Boulder, Co.: Westview.
  • Paul Preston. The Triumph of Democracy in Spain. London: Routledge, 2001.
  • Javier Tusell. Spain: From Dictatorship to Democracy. London: Blackwell, 2007.
  • Historia de un Cambio (in Spanish). Retrieved on August 24, 2006.
  • Gonzalo Garland. Spain: from Transition to modern times, Instituto de Empresa, 2010.
  • José-Francisco Jiménez-Díaz & Santiago Delgado-Fernández -Editors-: Political Leadership in the Spanish Transition to Democracy (1975–1982). Nueva York: Nova Science Publishers, 2016 (Series: Political Leaders and Their Assessment).

External links

1977 Massacre of Atocha

The 1977 Atocha massacre, a part of neofascist terrorism in Spain, was an attack during the Spanish transition to democracy after the death of Franco in 1975, killing five and injuring four. It was committed on January 24, 1977, in an office located on 55 Atocha Street near the Atocha railway station in Madrid, where specialists in labour law, members of the Workers' Commissions trade union (CCOO), and of the then-clandestine Communist Party of Spain (PCE), had gathered. The next day, the massacre was defended by a group calling itself Alianza Apostólica Anticomunista (literally The Apostolic Anticommunist Alliance, abbreviated Triple A or AAA). The suspects arrested were close to Blas Piñar's Fuerza Nueva far-right party, the Falange-JONS and the Franco Guard. The indignation brought about by the killings accelerated the legalisation of the Communist party, which took place in Easter 1977. On March 24, 1984, the Italian daily Il Messaggero stated that, possibly, Italian neo-fascists had taken part in the shootings, pointing toward some kind of "Black International". This allegation was confirmed by a report from the Italian CESIS, which confirmed that Carlo Cicuttini, who was also involved in the Peteano massacre, took part in the Atocha massacre.

1977 Political Reform Act

The Act for the Political Reform (Law 1/1977, of January 4, for the Political Reform) was adopted on December 18, 1976 by the Francoist legislative Cortes with the support of 435 of the 531 prosecutors (81% in favor) that formed this Cortes, and submitted to a referendum with the participation of the 77,8% of the census and with a 94,17% votes in favor. It had the character of Fundamental Law, being the last one of the Fundamental Laws of the Francoist State.

1982 Spanish coup d'état attempt

The October 27, 1982, coup d'état attempt was a conspiracy conceived in Spain to overthrow the government. Meant to take place on October 27, 1982, a day before national elections, the plan was discovered and foiled the preceding October 1. Although made public, the importance of the coup attempt was downplayed with the cooperation of the main media, in order to avoid raising social unrest. This coup d'état plan hardly affected the election campaign for the October 28 elections, won by Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE). Over time, it has become an obscure chapter in Spanish history.

Asturian Socialist Federation

The Asturian Socialist Federation (Spanish: Federación Socialista Asturiana), often shortened to FSA–PSOE, is the regional section of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) in the Principality of Asturias. It was formed on 27 January 1901 from the Socialist local groupings of Gijón (formed in 1891), Oviedo (1892), Mieres and Langreo (1897) and others.

Since the Spanish transition to democracy started in 1975 and since the establishment of the Spanish "State of Autonomies" in 1983, the FSA–PSOE has governed Asturias nearly uninterruptedly from 1983 to 1995, from 1999 to 2011 and again since 2012.


The búnker was a far-right faction during the Spanish transition to democracy. The group of hardline francoists opposed political and social reform. Its steadfast refusal to compromise led to its name of "bunker." Under the presidency of Carlos Arias Navarro, Búnker and its leading member, José Antonio Girón, opposed any movement towards reform. Blas Piñar was another member of the group.

The name of Búnker's mouthpiece, El Alcázar, refers to the Siege of the Alcázar, where nationalist forces held the Alcázar of Toledo against an overwhelmingly larger Spanish Republican army during the Spanish Civil War.

Cambio 16

Cambio 16 is a Spanish language monthly current affairs magazine published in Madrid, Spain, by "Group 16".

Constitution of Spain

The Spanish Constitution (Spanish and Galician: Constitución Española; Basque: Espainiako Konstituzioa; Catalan: Constitució Espanyola; Occitan: Constitucion espanhòla) is the democratic law that is supreme in the Kingdom of Spain. It was enacted after its approval in a constitutional referendum, and it is the culmination of the Spanish transition to democracy. The Constitution of 1978 is one of about a dozen of other historical Spanish constitutions and constitution-like documents; however, it is one of two fully democratic constitutions (the other being the Spanish Constitution of 1931). It was sanctioned by King Juan Carlos I on 27 December, and published in the Boletín Oficial del Estado (the government gazette of Spain) on 29 December, the date in which it became effective. The promulgation of the constitution marked the culmination of the Spanish transition to democracy after the death of general Francisco Franco, on 20 November 1975, who ruled over Spain as a military dictator for nearly 40 years. This led to the country undergoing a series of political, social and historical changes that transformed the Francoist regime into a democratic state.

The Spanish transition to democracy was a complex process that gradually transformed the legal framework of the Francoist regime into a democratic state. The Spanish state didn't "abolish" the Francoist regime, but rather slowly transformed the institutions and approved and/or derogated laws so as to establish a democratic nation and approve the Constitution, all under the guidance of King Juan Carlos I of Spain. The Constitution was redacted, debated and approved by the constituent assembly (Spanish: Cortes .Constituyentes) that emerged from the 1977 general election. The Constitution then repealed all the Fundamental Laws of the Realm (the pseudo-constitution of the Francoist regime), as well as other major historical laws and every pre-existing law that contradicted what the Constitution establishes.

Article 1 of the Constitution defines the Spanish state. Article 1.1 states that "Spain is established as a social and democratic State, subject to the rule of law, which advocates as the highest values of its legal order the following: liberty, justice, equality and political pluralism. Article 1.2 refers to national sovereignty, which is vested in the Spanish people, "from whom the powers of the State emanate". Article 1.3 establishes parliamentary monarchy as the "political form of the Spanish state".

The Constitution is organized in ten parts (Spanish: Títulos) and an additional introduction (Spanish: Título Preliminar), as well as a preamble, several additional and interim provisions and a series of repeals, and it ends with a final provision. Part I refers to fundamental rights and duties, which receive special treatment and protection under Spanish law. Part II refers to the regulation of the Crown and lays out the King's role in the Spanish state. Part III elaborates on Spain's legislature, the Cortes Generales. Part IV refers to the Government of Spain, the executive power, and the Public Administration, which is managed by the executive. Part V refers to the relations between the Government and the Cortes Generales; as a parliamentary monarchy, the Prime Minister (Spanish: Presidente del Gobierno) is invested by the legislature and the Government is responsible before the legislature. Part VI refers to the organization of the judicial power, establishing that justice emanates from the people and is administered on behalf of the king by judges and magistrates who are independent, irrevocable, liable and subject to the rule of law only. Part VII refers to the principles that shall guide the economy and the finances of the Spanish state, subjecting all the wealth in the country to the general interest and recognizing public initiative in the economy, while also protecting private property in the framework of a market economy. It also establishes the Court of Accounts and the principles that shall guide the approval of the state budget. Part VIII refers to the "territorial organization of the State" and establishes a unitary state that is nevertheless heavily decentralized through delegation and transfer of powers. The result is a de facto federal model, with some differences from federal states. This is referred to as an autonomous state (Spanish: Estado Autonómico) or state of the autonomies (Spanish: Estado de las Autonomías). Part IX refers to the Constitutional Court, which oversees the constitutionality of all laws and protects the fundamental rights enshrined in Part I. Finally, Part X refers to constitutional amendments, of which there have been only two since 1978 (in 1995 and 2011).


Daniel's, opened in late 1975, was one of the first lesbian bars in Spain and one of the first LGBT bars in Barcelona. Opened by María del Carmen Tobar, it originally was a bar and billiards room but expanded to have a dance hall. In the early years of the Spanish democratic transition, the police would occasionally raid the bar. Tobar played an active role in making Daniel's the center of lesbian life in Barcelona, sponsoring sports teams and a theater group. The bar later closed, but would be remembered in books and exhibits for its importance in the lesbian history of Spain.

Democratic Convergence Platform

The Democratic Convergence Platform (Spanish: Plataforma de Convergencia Democrática, PCD) was a Spanish organization that coordinated various pro-democracy parties, unions and associations (all illegal) during the late Francoist dictatorship.

Democratic Junta of Spain

The Democratic Junta of Spain (Spanish: Junta Democrática de España, JDE) was a Spanish organization that coordinated various pro-democracy parties, unions and associations (all illegal) during the late Francoist State.

El País

El País (listen ; literally The Country) is a Spanish-language daily newspaper in Spain. According to the Office of Justification of Dissemination (OJD) it is the second most circulated daily newspaper in Spain as of December 2017. It's by the number sales in 2018 were, on average, 60.000 according to internal audits, more than 70% less than a decade prior. The current editor, Soledad Gallego Díaz, has been brought to court after dismissing five employees for what the accusers mainatin are political and ideological reasons.

El País is the most read newspaper in Spanish online and the second most circulated daily newspaper in Spain, (after sports newspaper Marca) and one of three Madrid dailies considered to be national newspapers of record for Spain (along with El Mundo and ABC). El País, based in Madrid, is owned by the Spanish media conglomerate PRISA. PRISA is mainly owned by Banco Santander, Telefónica and the Liberty vulture fund. PRISA's debt of 988 million euros is bigger than the company's value.

Its headquarters and central editorial staff are located in Madrid, although there are regional offices in the principal Spanish cities (Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela) where regional were produced until 2015. El País also produces a world edition in Madrid that is available online in Brazil (in Brazilian Portuguese) and Hispanic America (in European Spanish).An English edition began as a print edition in 2001, available as a supplement in what was then the International Herald Tribune, later The Global New York Times. Since 2014, it has been an exclusively digital project.

In 2018, the newspaper changed editors one week after a vote of no confidence forced a change of premiership in Parliament, sparking doubts about the political independence of the parent company. Since then, the newspaper has engaged in a radical change of editorial line, going from a politically independent position to defending the socialist minority government.

The current newspaper's editor in America, Javier Moreno, and managing editor, Jan Martinez Ahrens, were responsible for publishing a false picture of a dying Hugo Chávez in 2013. The publication of such photo in the front page was a major blow to the newspaper's credibility and standing in Latin America.

Fathers of the Constitution

The Fathers of the Constitution (Spanish: Padres de la Constitución) were the seven political leaders who participated in the writing of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.

Gabriel Cisneros, Miguel Herrero y Rodríguez de Miñón and José Pedro Pérez Llorca

represented the centre-right Union of the Democratic Centre; Manuel Fraga Iribarne, the right-wing People's Alliance; Gregorio Peces-Barba, the left-wing Spanish Socialist Worker's Party; Jordi Solé Tura, the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia and Miguel Roca Junyent, of the Democratic Pact for Catalonia, represented the Catalan nationalists.

List of Constitutions of Spain

Go directly to the TableSpain has proclaimed a number of Constitutions. The current Magna Carta of 1978 is the culmination of the Spanish transition to democracy.

The idea of a national constitution for Spain arose from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen initiated as a result of the French Revolution

The earliest document recognized as such was La Pepa passed in 1812 as a result of the Peninsular War (1807–1814), which was a military conflict between the First French Empire and the allied powers of the Spanish Empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Kingdom of Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars.

During the Francoist State, there were many attempts to create stable institutions that did not (at least directly) emanate from Fransisco Franco as they did in the post-war period. The Fundamental Laws of the Realm (Spanish: Leyes Fundamentales del Reino) were a constitution in parts enacted through nearly 20 years starting in the 1950s. They established the very institutions that would later, under Juan Carlos I and Prime Minister Adolfo Suárez, commit "constitutional suicide" and pass the Political Reform Act, starting the Spanish transition to democracy. Most of those Laws theoretically provided for a quite free state, but ultimately the power of the Caudillo was supreme.

Finally, the constitution in force is similar to the (unwritten) British democratic monarchy model, but the Catalan self-determination referendum, 2014 has provoked calls for an entirely democratic federal republican model.

Below there is a comprehensive table, but this is an overview:

1808–1814 Napoleonic restructuring from royal edict to bicameral parliament

1812 La Pepa The first attempt at decentralization or republicanism

1814 La Pepa derogated by the King

1834 Absolute monarchy

1837 Constitutional monarchy

1845 Regency empowerment

1856 Failed attempt at democracy

1869 Another failed attempt at democracy

1873 First Spanish Republic

1876 Failed attempt to become a federal republic

1931 Second Spanish Republic

1936 Martial law under Francisco Franco

1939 – 1978 Francoist Spain

1978 Transition to democratic monarchy

List of mayors of Barcelona

This is a list of mayors of Barcelona since 1916.

Sex education in Francoist Spain and the democratic transition

Sex education in Francoist Spain (1939-1975) and the democratic transition (1975-1982) was prohibited by law to be taught in schools. When it was addressed, it was originally done so from a moralistic point of view, highlighting concepts like the need for chastity. During the mid-1950s, this practice began to change, and after formal government approval sex education incorporated more elements of psychology and biology. Despite a lack of government sanctioned sex education, people were informally taught. For middle class women, they learned from marriage guides. For many women, as they got older and closer to the age to marry, they received more sexual education from friends, mothers, sisters, and future in-laws. For upper class men, they learned by having sex with prostitutes and maids employed by their households.

During the 1970s, the topic was still considered taboo in schools. One government report encouraged the teaching of sex education, primarily because they believed it would serve to decrease the growing population of lesbians in Spain. No action was taken as Franco died in 1975, and the democratic transition began. Despite sex education being a topic among Spanish feminists of this period, the need for sex education was barely addressed. Meaningful reforms would not happen, and when they came to in the post transition period, they were limited in scope.

Spanish 1977 Amnesty Law

The Spanish 1977 Amnesty Law is a law promulgated by the Parliament of Spain in 1977, two years after caudillo Francisco Franco's death. The law freed political prisoners and permitted those exiled to return to Spain, but guaranteed impunity for those who participated in crimes under the Civil War and Francoist Spain. The law is still in force, and has been used as a reason for not investigating and prosecuting Francoist human rights violations.The act institutionalized Spain's "pact of forgetting"—a decision among Spanish parties and political actors, during and after the Spanish transition to democracy, not to address atrocities committed by the Spanish State. The 1977 amnesty has been criticized by scholars for equating "victims and victimizers" and for shielding human rights violators from prosecution and punishment. Spain has argued that perpetrators of crimes against humanity cannot be prosecuted for crimes committed before 1939, but the UN takes the view that Francoist crimes should be investigated. In February 2012 the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights demanded the 1977 Amnesty Law to be repealed on the basis that it violates international human rights law. The Commissioner referred to Spain's obligation to comply with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Under international human rights law, there is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity. In 2013, a UN working group of experts called upon Spain to repeal the 1977 law.In 2008, Judge Baltasar Garzón briefly began an official inquiry, symbolically indicting Franco for the disappearance of more than 100,000 people. In 2009, Manos Limpias, a far-right syndicate, brought criminal charges against the judge for defying the amnesty law. Garzón was acquitted of the charges of "knowingly acting without jurisdiction" relating to his investigation of Francoist crimes, but was disbarred for 11 years by the Spanish Supreme Court in 2012 on an unrelated charge.

Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia of 1979

The Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (Catalan: Estatut d'Autonomia de Catalunya; also Statute of Sau, Estatut de Sau, after the location where the statute was first made) is a constitutional law defining the region of Catalonia as an autonomous community within the Kingdom of Spain. It was promulgated on 18 September 1979. It is one of seventeen such statutes granted, in various forms and capabilities, to the different autonomous communities of Spain since the Spanish transition to democracy of the 1970s. On 18 June 2006 a referendum altering the statute to expand the authority of the Catalan government was approved; it became effective on 9 August 2006.

Catalonia first obtained a Statute of Autonomy in 1932, during the Second Spanish Republic. This law was abolished by General Francisco Franco after the Spanish Civil War, largely because Catalonia had been a region opposed to the Nationalist forces, and during his rule Catalan culture, language, and self-rule were harshly suppressed.

Torcuato Fernández-Miranda

Torcuato Fernández-Miranda y Hevia, 1st Duke of Fernández-Miranda, GE, KOGF (10 November 1915 – 19 June 1980) was a Spanish lawyer and politician who played important roles in both the Spanish State of Francisco Franco and in the Spanish transition to democracy.

Fernández Miranda was born in Gijón, Asturias, on Spain's north coast, in 1915. He died of a heart attack in 1980 while traveling to London.

Vicente Enrique y Tarancón

Vicente Enrique y Tarancón (14 May 1907 – 28 November 1994), known in his country as Cardenal Tarancón or Tarancón, was a Spanish Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who served as Archbishop of Madrid from 1971 to 1983, and as president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference from 1971 to 1981, during the difficult years of the Spanish transition to democracy. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1969.


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