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Useful Notes / The Franco Regime

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Sam Tyler: This place is like Guantanamo Bay.
Gene Hunt: Give over, it's nothing like Spain.

Spain under the rule of Francisco Franco, from 1939 to 1975, following the Spanish Civil War.

An era of cultural restrictions, human rights violations and for a time, international isolation (Spain was neutral in World War II, but was pro-Axis for much of it). To his supporters, however, he was seen as a strongman and "Defender of Christendom," if only because he fought against Communists during the Spanish Civil War. Most historians generally regard his regime and ideology as an ultraconservative authoritarianism more common with the dictatorships/juntas of South America than Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

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Towards the end of his rule, Franco sought to restore the Spanish royal family, then in exile. The rightful king, the Infante Juan, was too liberal to be trusted and Franco instead picked Juan's son Juan Carlos who was still young enough to be groomed into a Francoist mentality.

Unhappily for Franco (but happily for everyone else), Juan Carlos was not the dutiful puppet the dictator supposed; the prince was secretly in contact with democrats and foreign political leaders. When Franco finally died and Juan Carlos took the throne, the new king swept away the old regime and instituted the modern, democratic Spain, though not before having to publicly stand up to a putsch attempt by some hard-lined Francoists: King Juan Carlos went public reminding everyone he was the King, he wanted a proper constitutional monarchy beholden to the people and have the fascists crushed. He got those things in short order and by the end, even the head of the national Communist party was cheering, "God save the King!"

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This just in: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

Although the transition to democracy was successful, the regime left deep scars in the Spanish society that can still be felt up to this day. Especially since most of the people in power today were raised during Franco's rule. In many ways, Spain as a whole is Still Fighting the Civil War as none of the issues that led to the whole sordid affair from 1936 to 1939 was talked about for forty years afterwards and only very gradually even after that. ETA also started their violent campaigns with an attack on Franco's Prime Minister and heir apparent, which won them some sympathies among non-Basque Spaniards which they subsequently thoroughly lost after Franco's death. Franco's regime also suppressed virtually all expressions of non-Castillian culture, particularly Catalan and Basque, giving the independence movement in this regions a claim to being heirs to the anti-Franco movement. While the Zapatero government (2004-2011) dug up some Franco era mass graves and tried to at least get a somewhat accurate historical assessment of Spain's recent history, no such thing happened during the subsequent Rajoy (2011-2018) government. Rajoy's successor Sanchez tried to move Franco's remains from Valle de los Caídos, a rather pompous monument dedicated to "all (catholic) victims of the Civil War" (and Franco, and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera) but had to call a snap election before he could put the already passed law to that effect into action.

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