The general and dictator Francisco Franco (1892-1975) ruled over Spain from 1939 until his death. He rose to power during the bloody Spanish Civil War when, with the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, his Nationalist forces overthrew the democratically elected Second Republic.
The bases of the Franco regime were, among others, Spanish nationalism, Catholicism, fascism and anti-communism, which served as support for a totalitarian military dictatorship that proclaimed itself as “organic democracy” in opposition to parliamentary democracy when considering the dictator that partisan struggle was ineffective for the progress of the state.
After the defeats of the Axis powers in World War II, the regime gradually shed its pro-fascist character, although it continued to use its symbolism. The Franco regime had to seek new international alliances, and the role of the Falange was diminishing in favor of other political groups.
During the Franco years, a series of political and ideological foundations were maintained, characteristic of some of the fascist regimes in general, and other particular ones of the Spanish version of fascism, the Franco regime; among them:
- Anti-communism. He was completely opposed to communism and, indeed, to any left-wing ideology, be it the radical revolutionary left or the progressive democratic bourgeoisie. Some slogans of the Franco regime reflect this idea, such as “the Sentinel of the West”, ensuring that communism did not reach Spain or the rest of the West.
- Anti-liberalism. Francoism is a system completely opposed to all kinds of political or social freedom; therefore it is opposed to democracy, to the separation of powers, to national sovereignty residing in the people, etc.
- Anti-parliamentarism. Due to Franco’s belief that liberal democracy and political parties had caused the decline in Spain, parliamentary democracy was replaced by ‘organic democracy’, a pseudo-democratic system subject, in reality, to the will of Franco maintained until his death.
- Nationalism. The Franco regime was based on the dissemination of the idea of the regime as responsible and cause of maintaining national unity; the prohibition and persecution of regionalist independence groups, as well as the limitation of some regional customs and the intervention of local institutions through the removal of members and leaders by leaders related to the regime.
Adopting the title of “El Caudillo” (The Leader), Franco persecuted political opponents, repressed the culture and language of Spain’s Basque and Catalan regions, censured the media and otherwise exerted absolute control over the country. Some of these restrictions gradually eased as Franco got older, and upon his death the country transitioned to democracy.
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