Modernization and Democracy of Spain

Published 23 Dec 2016

Francisco Franco in his reign as the head of the state marked the period of long dictatorship since the end of the civil war in 1939 until his death in 1975. Franco’s success in overthrowing the Republican was believed to have paved the way for the World War II. After the war, Spain had undergone the seemingly repressive and violent era in the hands of Franco for roughly four decades.

After Franco’s death, his successor thought of taking necessary measures to resolve the traumatic impact of dictatorship in the life of the people and country. Wildman noted Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero’s attempt to bring back the democracy in Spain by “officially, morally, and financially” acknowledging the victims and heroes of the civil war (par. 1). This is an attempt that drew debate among themselves since the populace from different parties decided to forget the past through an agreement called the “pact of forgetting,” since reliving the memory of the civil war and reign of dictatorship would only “lay the groundwork for more fighting,” according to PP leader Mariano Rajoy (Wildman).

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How Modernization is Achieved

The post-Franco Spain is believed to be the third wave of democratization after its successive bloody civil wars in the past. Modernization has come to Spain along with democratic revolution despite the country’s lack of significant democratic roots (Encarnacion, p. 35).

Democracy in Spain was largely attributed to Franco’s successor King Juan Carlos who was a personal choice of Franco. He set the ground for democratization in Spain by appointing key leaders who would assume the role political crafting of the country. This has been followed by the election in 1977 that inaugurated the democratic rule in Spain (Encarnacion, p. 39).

Although, communism was very strong in Spain, democracy was truly in the hearts of the people. This has been evident by the victory of a Socialist Felipe Gonzales as the Prime Minister in 1982; his leadership is “credited with consolidating democracy” (Encarnacion, p. 37). Encarnacion accounted that the most important consolidation of democracy was the observance of law wherein, the standard of true democracy was the civil and political freedom (p. 37).

Political reform resulted to economic revolution in Spain after several years in downturn and deep economic crisis. In 1984, the hallmarks of neo-liberal economic reform arrived in Spain when the state began to sell its state-owned companies to private inpiduals and institutions. This also led to a more organized labor groups and government’s effort to sustain the working class that was greatly affected by the economic crisis. These government programs revitalized the Spanish society in general.

The Importance of Tourism Industry in the Development of the Country

Tourism in Spain became popular in 1990s. Due to the growing numbers of foreign tourists, Spain is now considered number two as world’s destination reported having sixty million foreign tourists in 2007. Tourism therefore is income-generating in Spain.

In a report released by Informative National Statistics Institute, the contribution of tourism in the economy in 1999 alone was sixty eight million euros, about 12.1% increase in GDP (p. 1). This success in the tourism industry also resulted to a much significant growth in economy. According to Cifra (NSI), tourism has impacts both in production and employment performance of the country. Initially, it affects directly the companies that supply goods and services to visitors, while the result of activity generated in other companies also helped in accumulating income. About sixty percent of accommodation services and food and beverage serving services comprise the total spending of the tourists. The said report presented also its impact in the total employment having about 6.2 and 10.1 percent of increase in the employment in the country.

Emigration and Migration in Spain

Another remarkable event that took place in Spain is its migration reports. Perez noted the six million emigrants who worked as temporary workers in Americas particularly in Galicia, Asturias, and Canary Islands during the period 1850 to 1950. Northern Africa, Northern Europe and Algeria were among the chosen destination of Spaniards. According to Perez, some of the factors that relate to migration was economic reason. Although migration was a constant pace, yet, this began to end from 1974 recording the latest annual departures of 2,000 only.

Perez accounted some of the factors in the decrease of Spaniards leaving for abroad to becoming a “receiving country for foreign laborers” from Northern Africa and Latin America, as well as retirees from European countries. Perez explained that the onset of migration to Spain was attributed to regional phenomenon that took place in 1980s. During this period, Mediterranean countries including Spain became the receiving rooms of employment opportunities; Germany, Switzerland, and France has ended its “traditional receiving countries;” the poor performance of the labor markets in the sending countries; and, the admission of Portugal, Spain and Greece into the European Community.

The Role of Spain in the Western Civilization Today

Spain is now recognized as significant factor in international economic relations. In a report released by New York Times, Spain is now the world’s eighth most powerful economy; being the top investor in Latin America, the eighth in foreign investments worldwide, the tenth most popular destination for investment, and Spanish companies become world leaders in entrepreneurship. The rapid growth in the economy is attributed to the people’s determination to embrace democracy as well as to its participation as member of European Community.

Spain as a world power is invigorated through its political alliance with the United States, which was exemplified by the historical closeness of the two. The treaties and agreements they had both signed about centuries ago intensified by common principles on international issue have strengthened that relationship.

Nowadays, both countries according to report made by The New York Times, have agreed to carry on variety of concerns such as “education, employment, scientific cooperation, space, and defense. Truly, Spain has “won international respect” that made it play a significant role on issues affecting many global concerns. Garrigues Walker in his statements stated that, “Spain already has its foot in the door” (New York Times).

In 1992, Spain today foresaw a better relationship with Latin America as they celebrated the 500th year of the discovery of the new world. The people here wanted to respond to the “siren call of shared language and cultural values” with Latin Americans (James, p.3). Along with the commemoration, the country designed a legal framework that could unite them culturally, economically, and politically.

In a paper presented at the 2001 LASA Convention in Washington D.C., Pablo Toral presented the large investment the Spanish companies had in Latin America beginning 1990s. Most of these companies that facilitated investments were from three sectors: banking, telecommunication, and energy (p. 1). Toral emphasized that Spain’s investments in Latin America was not only based on “microeconomics calculations” but also on “political and macroeconomic aspects” (p. 17).

Work Cited

  • James, Barry (January 8, 1992). Searching for a Role, Spain Shies from EC and Reaches Out to Latin America. International Herald Tribune.
  • Omar G. Encarnacio. Spain After Franco: Lessons in Democratization. World Policy Journal. Winter 2001/02.
  • Perez, Nieves Ortega (February 2003). Spain: Forging an Immigration Policy. Migration Information Source.
  • Spain Flexes New Economic Muscle. New York Times. 2003. Date Retrieved: April 1, 2008.
  • The Economic Impact of Tourism. Cifre Ine. 2/22.
  • Toral, Pablo (2001) Spanish Investment in Latin America. Florida International University.
  • U.S.-Spain Relations Better than Ever. New York Times.
  • Wildman, Sarah. “The Longest Shadow.” Newsweek. October 15, 2007.
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