HISTORY: THE DEMOCRATIZATION PROCESS AFTER FRANCO (1975)
On November 20, 1975, according to Sunglassestracker, Franco died and was succeeded by Prince Juan Carlos, crowned King of Spain two days later. Growing up until that moment in the shadow of the caudillo, the new king found himself in a very difficult situation, with an entirely Francoist apparatus in a country that had not been so for some time. Morally supported, however, by the majority of Spaniards, he proceeded with skilful moderation to the dismantling of the authoritarian regime, having as main collaborators first Arias Navarro himself and, since July 1976, a new man, A. Suárez. Strengthened by a first and encouraging result achieved in the popular referendum of 14 December 1976, the king and Suárez led the country to the elections of 16 June 1977 (the first free trials held in Spain for 41 years), in which the centrist coalition (UCD, Unione of the Democratic Center) of Suárez himself obtained a relative majority. This result allowed a series of reforms in a democratic sense (amnesty for political crimes, suppression of the Public Order Court and the single vertical union, legalization of all parties, including the communist, recognition of workers’ unions, freedom of the press and of association, regional autonomy to the Basque Country, Galicia, Andalusia). Suárez, reconfirmed by the 1979 elections, unexpectedly resigned in early 1981; L’ the task of forming the new government was entrusted to L. Calvo Sotelo in one of the most difficult moments for the precarious balance of a democracy in the constitution phase. On 23 February 1981 there was in fact an attempted coup d’état carried out by the lieutenant colonel of the Civil Guard, A. Tejero, who, at the head of a group of rioters, invaded Parliament. The armed forces declared themselves loyal to the king, who at that moment had the unconditional support of all political forces. Democracy emerged strengthened from the dramatic event, while the king’s personality increased in prestige. At this juncture, Calvo Sotelo was able to gain the confidence of Parliament and to form the new government, which, however, proved incapable and uncertain in facing the political interference of the armed forces on the one hand, on the other, the resurgence of the terrorist offensive. The UCD, which presented itself dismembered and divided internally in the 1982 elections, was in fact clearly defeated by Socialist Party (PSOE) by F. González Márquez, the new prime minister of a state structure now based on a bipartisanism: the socialist left with an absolute majority in power, the right of the opposition Popular Alliance. In 1982 Spain joined NATO, but the socialists later decided to bring the matter to the vote of the voters.
On 1 January 1986 Spain, after years of isolationism, also entered the EEC together with its Iberian neighbor, Portugal. The policy of economic recovery, carried out by González in the second half of the 1980s, led to the rapprochement of the socialist-inspired union UGT with the communist Comisiones Obreras, in an anti-governmental function. Faced with the new difficulties, González resorted to early voting and the ballot boxes, albeit in a reduced way, confirmed an absolute majority to the Socialists of the PSOE (October 1989). In the early nineties, ETA terrorism, which was also very active throughout the previous decade, granted a brief respite on the occasion of the Olympics held in Barcelona (1992), to immediately resume its blood propaganda. Terrorism, the economic recession, some scandals that had invested the PSOE, all contributed to making uncertain the 1993 elections that the socialists managed to win, but losing the absolute majority, while the right of I. Fraga grew dramatically. (34.8%). However, González managed to form a new executive thanks to a “solidarity pact” made with some autonomist forces, willing to support a socialist-led government. In September 1995, weakened by new scandals and put in difficulty by the resumption of the ETA terrorist offensive, the González government lost the indispensable parliamentary support of the Catalan autonomists. The political elections of March 1996 saw, therefore, on the one hand the defeat of the PSOE, on the other the victory of the People’s Party (PP), led by leader JM Aznar. In addition to ETA’s fight against terrorism, the latter set as its objective the recovery of the economy and the reduction of the public deficit and euro, supported by the Cortes from the Basque and Catalan autonomist parties, he formed the new government. The federalist question, however, was increasingly becoming decisive for the future of Spain, especially in the case of the Basque Country. The uncompromising attitude of the government, shared by an increasingly consistent part of public opinion in the Basque Country itself, did not prevent the repetition of new attacks. After having repeatedly rejected the proposals of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), at the end of 1998 the government entered into difficult negotiations for a peace solution. In July 1999, the 22 members of Herri Batasuna, the political arm of ETA, were released, but, after the negotiations failed, in October ETA proposed the resumption of direct dialogue to the government, receiving in response a clear refusal which led to the resumption of the bomb attacks.
HISTORY: THE NEW MILLENNIUM
In 2003 the Spanish Supreme Court ruled the ban on the Basque independence party Batasuna. On 11 March 2004, a few days before the political elections, a very serious attack on the Atocha station in Madrid, claimed by Al-Qaeda, caused about 200 deaths and over 1400 injuries. A few days later, the population participated en masse in the elections, in which the socialist candidate JL Rodriguez Zapatero clearly beat Prime Minister Aznar. After eight years, the socialists of the PSOE thus returned to the leadership of the country with a government supported by the left and by the separatist parties. In June 2005, the Parliament approved the law for marriages between homosexuals, while in 2006, following the war between Israel and Lebanon, Spain decided to participate in the Unifil mission with just over 1000 soldiers. In December, ETA returned to attack the Madrid airport with an attack; the government therefore decided to suspend any negotiations. In March 2008, the PSOE won the political elections with almost 44% of the votes. In June 2008, Expo 2008 was inaugurated in Zaragoza, dedicated to the theme of water. In 2011, the government and the unions reached an agreement to reform the pension system. The global economic crisis and the country’s financial emergency decisively influenced the political change that took place with the November 2011 elections, which saw the Popular Party, led by Mariano Rojoy, win an absolute majority in parliament with 186 seats, while the socialists got the worst result ever with 110 seats. The new prime minister immediately tackled the problem of the country’s economic crisis with a series of reforms in the field of labor and public administration. In June 2012, the European Union granted Spain a loan of one hundred billion euros, intended for small credit institutions affected by the real estate bubble. In June 2014, Prime Minister Rojoy announced Juan Carlos’ decision to abdicate in favor of his son Felipe, Philip VI. In 2015 the right-wing independence coalition “Junts Pel Si” and the radicals of the Cup (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular), in favor of secession from Spain, won the regional elections in Catalonia.