Payne, Stanley G.
January 1971
Foreign Affairs;Jan1971, Vol. 49 Issue 2, p342
This article looks at the condition of Spain near the end of the administration of President Francisco Franco Bahamonde. In the mid-1960s there was some reason to believe that the demise of Franco might lead to the restoration of a constitutional monarchy that would restore liberal democracy to Spain, an outcome at that time seemingly favored by broad trends in the Western world. Now that liberal democracy has been rejected by some of the most active sectors of the intelligentsia, both inside and outside Spain, this seems rather less likely. For many years there appeared to be a good chance that Franco would be succeeded by the liberal heir to the Spanish Bourbon dynasty, Don Juan. Franco precluded this by seizing the initiative and instituting Don Juan's regime-educated son, Juan Carlos, as the official successor. Had Don Juan, rather than his son, had an opportunity to step in cleanly, the chances of national political conciliation would have been greater. Much will depend on the precise circumstances attending Franco's demise. A direct overthrow either from inside or outside the government seems almost out of the question. The situation might be complicated by a lingering illness that left the head of state incapacitated, but the succession laws apparently provide for the transfer of powers to the legally designated heir in such circumstances. In any event, careful management by top government officeholders and by Juan Carlos will be necessary to make the transition a success. Much will also depend on the selection of a prime minister as acting head of government, either by Franco before his demise or by Juan Carlos immediately after assuming power as head of state. Spain is a much more complex and difficult country to govern than is Portugal, but the present outlook is for continuity rather than upheaval in the Spanish system.


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