Did Franco’s regime benefit Spain? Thesis Statement

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Did Franco’s regime benefit Spain?
Thesis Statement:

  • Franco did benefit Spain to a small extent:

    • Economically to a point,

    • International relations (non-aligned),

    • Kept his country out of Cold War issues,

    • Concentrated on economic development

  • HOWEVER he oppressed people and threw them off cliffs

Background info

  • (Sam’s notes)

  • What Spain was like before and after Franco’s regime

With the Second World War coming into fruition shortly after the Nationalist victory in the Spanish Civil War, Franco’s decision making capabilities for Spain was immediately put the test, as he was forced to choose whether to enter the World War, pleasing his allies on the Axis side, or stay clear of it and prioritize the reconstruction of Spain’s economy. Franco’s decision to avoid involvement in the Second World War definitely benefitted Spain in the short term, as it allowed the population to get past the emotional turmoil caused by the Civil War, prevented Spain from exhausting its economic powers for the war, ensured that the nation would be able to keep control of the Canary Islands and ensured some level of political neutrality on an international scale – including abiding by the pact signed with Portugal promising not to go to war – thus making international trade a more viable possibility after the World War was over. Similar to the short term, Franco’s involvement in Spanish affairs in the long term of the World War helped Spain by preventing the hindrance of its economy and the disruption of newfound peace amongst the populous. This was due to the fact that staying out of the war ensured that Spain would maintain the Canary Islands in the long term and meant that international trade would be unhindered due to the nation’s neutrality during the war. Furthermore, the fact that Spain did not join the Axis meant that no reparations had to be paid following their loss during the war. While Franco did not make any great victories in terms of the Spanish economy during the World War Two period, he did ensure that the country’s political, economic and social situation was not degraded in any way.

Franco benefited Spain in the short and long term in terms of social factors because he reintroduced Spain to the international community as a strong and organized nation. However, in an economic sense, he did not benefit the nation. The Civil War had ravaged the Spanish economy. Infrastructure had been damaged, workers killed, and daily business severely hampered. For more than a decade after Franco's victory, the economy improved little. Franco initially pursued a policy of autarky, cutting off almost all-international trade. The policy had devastating effects, and the economy stagnated. Only black marketers could enjoy an evident affluence.
Until Franco’s death in 1975, Spain remained split into the privileged “authentic Spain” and the castigated “anti-Spain”. Francoists used a psycho-pathological language to depict the enemy as subhuman—dirty, filthy, stinking, depraved scum, slime, whores, criminals—a language which then justified the need for “purification”.” During the establishment of autarky in Spain, the reprimanded enemies of Franco were the ones who suffered from the consequent emergence of a black market and corruption among the Nationalist party. The social consequences of autarky inadvertently fitted well with the regime’s rhetoric of the need for the defeated to seek redemption through sacrifice.
For years, children of slaughtered opponents were secretly taken, renamed and given to families sympathetic to General Francisco Franco; justification for separation was that “segregation from infancy could liberate society from the terrible plague of Marxism”. Siblings who were separated and fortunately survived the regime were reunited after the Catalan government decided to compensate Franco’s prisoners in belated recognition of their suffering.
Some of Franco's policies produced positive economic progress. His principal policy for an autarkic and self-sustaining economy, rooted in both his fascist ideology as well as the impracticality of foreign trade due to the conflicts, which just had concluded, helped prepare the country for an industrial alteration. Spain saw moments of short run success; the productivity of industrial products significantly increased within the 1950s and, with regards to social prosperity, the stimulated economic growth improved national income and wages. The areas that benefited the most from the period of Spanish industrialization were the urban areas; due to the redirected focus away from agriculture, the farming profession became unpopular and such workers emigrated to work in more industrial-related jobs in the late 1950s.

However, such policies were difficult to sustain in the long run. Unable to maintain its progressive industrial expansion through autarkic means, Spain was forced to import a lot of the machinery from other countries and created an undesired imbalance in trade. By the late 1950s, Franco's economy began to fall apart as it experienced bankruptcy and higher prices for goods due to growing inflation. Unable to follow through with his autarky economic policy, he created a board of economic advisors in an attempt to stabilize the inflation problem.
During the period of 1972 to 1975 there has been growing dissent against Franco and his regime, the Church try to withdraw their alliance with Franco and the economy was going through stagnation due to the oil crisis which became a long run benefit for Spain to become a democracy. The growing dissent lead to strike, which strengthen the labor movement, it is one of the factor that propel Spain to democracy. This was beneficial in the long run. The oil crisis in 1973 cause the unemployment rate to increase due to the affects it has on different industries such as shipbuilding, automobile and manufacturing. Construction and tourist industries were seriously affected. The economy experienced an economic stagnation. This made people wanting democracy as they see that the way Franco was running the economy was not working since they were experiencing an economic problem. In 1953, the Church had a lot of privileges such as they were exempted from taxes, gain subsidies for goods and many more. In the 1960s, they began to disagree with the way Franco treated the citizen of Spain, they made a stand against human right which cause them to withdrew from its support for the regime. The Episcopal conference in 1973, the Church demanded separation of the Church and the state but Franco refuse to do to. Due to this, it was beneficial in the long run because the Church has an influential role during the transition period from Franco rule to democracy. The Basque terrorism occurred in 1973, they assassinated Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco who was the successor and the president of the government. Their goal was to destabilize Spain and increase Franco repression, they wanted people to accept the less evil political party. In conclusion, the strong hatred toward Franco allowed Spain to become a strong democracy country and influence the transition period.


  • Spain has benefited more after Franco than during Franco’s rule

  • What was the result of his economic policies?

    • Went well at first but stagnated towards the end (oil crisis)

    • Absolute rule didn’t benefit the public.

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