Please sign in to post.

Spain says "Buenos dias!" to democracy on this day in 1978

On December 27, 1978, King Juan Carlos I signed into law the Spanish Constitution, which began the country’s official shift into democracy. On that morning in December of 1978, newspapers around the country ran headlines reading, “Good morning, democracy.”

When Franco died in 1975 many people expected Juan Carlos to stand back and let the fascist regime continue, but instead he
immediately began to dismantle the fascist government of Spain. He became king two days after Franco’s death and the first reigning monarch since 1931. The country held its first open and free elections in 1977, with over 150 political parties represented. The Communist Party was officially legalized. Juan Carlos granted amnesty to political prisoners. Languages like Catalan, Gallego, and Euskera, which had been forbidden, were now freely spoken.

But while often cited as a paradigm of peaceful, negotiated transition, violence during the Spanish transition was far more prevalent than during the analogous democratization processes in Greece or Portugal, with the emergence of separatist, revolutionary, neo-fascist and vigilante terrorist groups.

When the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party (PSOE, Partido Socialista Obrero Español) took the majority of seats in Parliament in the 1980s, real reforms were spread through the country.

Posted by
2928 posts

Having lived in Spain from August 1977 through December 1980, I remember there being so many different political parties (multiple communist and socialist ones), I have no idea how anybody knew who was who. The civil guard (Guardia Civil) still ruled with an iron fist although things were beginning to change. The only interstate type roads were the A1 through A6. The main roads were the Nacional “N” roads that went through every town. Many Spaniards still didn’t own a car and the ones who did mostly owned the Spain produced Seat. During those years parking was easy, even in large cities like Madrid and Sevilla, and it was free. Parking in the historic center of Toledo was a breeze. There were problems with Basque separatists, but they gave advance warnings of bombings to minimize casualties. Also, the border between Spain and Gibraltar was permanently closed so if one wanted to go to Gibraltar you’d need to take a ferry to North Africa, then another ferry to Gibraltar. On a more somber note, a common sight in every town were the multitude of Spanish civil war widows dressed in black who just stood in the doors of their homes. Living in Spain during that transformational period was fascinating. Spain is a fantastic country and I’ll never get tired visiting it.

Posted by
1996 posts

One must also mention Adolfo Suárez, Spain's first democratically elected Prime Minister and a driving force of our transition to democracy. He oversaw the end of the Francoist government, and the legalisation of all political parties, including the Communist Party.

Posted by
4610 posts

I remember those events quite well and King Juan Carlos was a hero.

It is always great to see movement from dictatorship (whether Fascist or Communist) to Democracy.