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#80 Transition Toward Democracy in Spain: Opinions, Mood, and Elite Behavior

By Rafael López Pintor

This paper is intended to give an explanation of the transition process from authoritarian rule to democracy in Spain. It focuses on the relationship between general states of public opinion and the behavior of the elite, both regime and opposition. A considerable amount of empirical information is provided to illustrate the socioeconomic situation of the country and the opinion mood during the transitional period.

Relying mostly on certain classical theorists--Machiavelli, De Tocqueville--an explanation of the Spanish transition is advanced along the following reasoning: The way in which transition toward democracy has taken place in Spain is as much a function of he internal dynamics of theruling sectors of the Franco regime as it is of pressures from those sectors. The conjunction of both factors precipitated the change only within the presence of two catalytic elements: the natural passing of Franco, and the role of a King who had been appointed by Franco and enjoyed the loyalty of the armed forces. Against a societal background of decreasing social inequalities, increasing cultural secularization, economic crisis, and concern about the future, government and opposition would meet the democratic covenant--perhaps because the most staunch Francoists did not feel strong enough to maintain the authoritarian system without paying high costs, difficult to anticipate; while, on the other hand, the regime's political opponents also did not feel strong enough to attempt its overthrow without risking failure.


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