A Remnant of the 1930’s: Franco’s Spain

Current history of world affairsCURRENT HISTORY


MARZO 1975


A Remnant of the 1930’s: Franco’s Spain






“Whatever the form of future Spanish political institutions, there is little doubt that Spain’s new rulers will face serious problems.”

A Remnant of the 1930’s:
Franco’s Spain

By Manuel B. Garcia-Alvarez
Visiting Research Associate, Center for West European Studies,
Harvard University

The “constitutional” foundations of the regime were laid in this fearful environment. This must be remembered in order to understand the massive, almost 100-percent support that Francisco Franco has pretended to find in the Spanish people. Repression, in rather more sophisticated ways, is continuing.

Aor’.arently, the progressive appearance of Spanish political institutions does not follow a preconceived blueprint, rather, inside a capitalist, authoritarian, nationalistic context, new institutions were created in response to internal and external circumstances and already existing institutions were amended. Of course, Francoist intellectuals use somewhat sophisticated phrases; thus they speak of an “open constitution,” or an “open constitutional process.” Or, as the Caudillo himself has often repeated, Spain is undergoing a “permanent’ constitutional process.” According to the same official sources, this does not affect the stability and permanence of the regime.3

The Fuero del Trabajo—chronologically the first of the basic laws that make up the Spanish “constitution”—was enacted in 1938. Following the lines of the Italian Carta del Lavoro, it contains a list of more or less programmatic social and economic principles and rights, including: the subsidiary role of the state in the economy; the protection of private property; national syndicalism; the compulsory appointment of Falangist militants as the new leaders of the Sindicato. The Fuero del Trabajo also included references to the “Revolution which Spain has to accomplish with a both religious and military air . . .,”4 and a formal declaration that Spain is a totalitarian state.

Four years later, the second of the fundamental laws, the Ley de Cortes, appeared. “Cortes” had been the name of the Spanish Parliament from 1812 to the second republic. And it had also been the name of those bodies we could call Parliaments, in medieval Spanish kingdoms. Thus, in creating a body that they also named “Cortes,” the new masters…




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