Spain remembers “El Caudillo” 40 years after Franco’s death

Francisco Franco and Carmen Polo

ON November 20 1975 General Francisco Franco died at the age of 82 and a fascist dictatorship of 36 years gave way to a new age of democracy in Spain.

Franco ruled with an unyielding hand over the country after the Nationalists triumphed in the Spanish civil war between 1936 and 1939.

He began ruling over a totalitarian state with himself as the self proclaimed Head of State. Coming into the 1950s his regime developed into a semi-pluralist authoritarian system and due to his anticommunist stance during the Cold War Spain’s relations improved with the United States. In the 1960s Spain’s economy made progress and more flexibility was seen in the regime.


El Caudillo, as he was known, may have declared neutrality during the Second World War but he had connections with both Hitler and Mussolini and the Nazis had access to some key ports in Spain during the war.

The last time he would speak to the nation Franco said, “I ask pardon of all my enemies, as I pardon with all my heart all those who declared themselves my enemy, although I did not consider them to be so”

After his death Prince Juan Carlos was officially sworn in as the King of Spain on November 22 1975.

As Spain’s political picture looks set to change again in the December elections the country remembers a different regime in another time.


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