Editor’s Pick

Editor’s Pick

28 February, 2022

ON 5 JUNE 1969, General Francisco Franco and Prince Juan Carlos de Borbón (left) attend a parade in Madrid marking thirty years since the nationalist victory in the Spanish Civil War. That same year, Franco, as the dictator of Spain, proclaimed Juan Carlos to be his successor.

After seven years under the dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera, Spain came to be led by republicans in the early 1930s. This phase, also known as the Second Spanish Republic, saw an effort by republicans and socialists to establish mass democracy. After the election of February 1936, the Popular Front, a coalition led by the republican Manuel Azaña, formed the government. While this new regime brought hopes of a democratic and egalitarian nation, it also threatened the long-entrenched relationship between the Spanish state and the Catholic Church. Fearing “Bolshevisation,” right-wing politicians and army officers planned a coup.

In the summer of 1936, the military formally announced its intent to overthrow the Popular Front. The revolt started from Morocco, then a protectorate of Spain, and spread throughout the Spanish mainland. The republicans fought back against the nationalists, led by Franco and supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. On 28 March 1939, Madrid surrendered to nationalists troops. Other areas followed suit, giving Franco control of all the 52 provinces of Spain and bringing an end to the three-year war.

Franco ruled until his death, in 1975. Juan Carlos, a member of the Spanish royal family, was proclaimed the king of Spain and took over the government in his place. To the surprise of many, he proceeded to dismantle Franco’s authoritarian state, setting Spain once again on a tortuous path to democracy. He continued to reign as the head of a constitutional monarchy until 2014, when, facing scrutiny over his extravagance and an embezzlement scandal involving his daughter, he chose to abdicate.