The International Dimensions of Democratization: Europe and the Americas

By Laurence Whitehead | Go to book overview

11 International Aspects of Democratization: The Case of Spain

Charles Powell


Introduction

Given the abundance of literature on Spain's transition to democracy, it is remarkable how little attention has been paid to the international dimension of this process. 1 By and large, authors writing on Spain appear to have accepted Schmitter's view that 'transitions from authoritarian rule and immediate prospects for political democracy [are] largely to be explained by national forces and calculations', and that 'external actors [tend] to play an indirect and usually marginal role, with the obvious exception of those instances in which a foreign occupying power was present'. While accepting the first half of this statement, this chapter will explore the relationships linking domestic and external actors in Spain during the period of pre-transition (1969-75) and transition proper (1975-8), which have hitherto received scant attention. Additionally, it will attempt to provide answers derived from the Spanish experience to some of the questions raised by Whitehead in his International Aspects of Democratization concerning matters such as the 'promotion of democracy' as a foreign policy objective, the nature of the instruments available to those pursuing such a goal, and the ability of domestic actors to benefit from it. 2

As had already happened during Spain's first transition from dictatorship to democracy in the early 1930s, in the mid-1970s rapid political change took place at a time of international economic crisis. After benefiting from over a decade of sustained European growth, the Spanish economy, always heavily dependent on imported oil for its energy, was severely hit by the sudden increase in prices in 1973-4, and entered a period of stagflation. Some authors have

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