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UNIT 9- FRANCOISM (1939-1959)


  • The leader of the Nationalist forces, General Franco headed the authoritarian regime “by the Grace of God” until 1975. Franco was:

    • Head of armed forces.

    • Head of state and head of government.

    • Ultimate source of legitimate authority.

    • He had the power to appoint and dismiss ministers.

  • Franco saw himself as the one designated to save Spain from the chaos and instability.

  • He blamed democracy for destroying the unity of Spain.


  • The armed forces gave his regime security.

  • Only recognized political organization: National Movement (FET-JONS (Falange)).

  • Its membership included: Catholics, monarchists, Falangists, members of the army, business groups… Although they had things in common, they often had contradictory interests.

  • It was obligatory to belong to the National movement for civil servants and those who had political office.

  • Franco borrowed many ingredients of his ideology from the Falange.

  • The Francoist regime established policies that were highly favourable to the Catholic Church, which was restored to its previous status as the official religion of Spain.

  • The church regained its dominant position in the educational system and laws conformed to the Catholic dogma.

  • The Catholic Church was one of the main ideological sources of Francoism.

  • The military was also an important support for the Regime.

  • Spain reverted to being a highly centralized state. The regime abolished regional governments, persecuted all types of “separatism” and defended the idea of a united state,  “Una, Grande y Libre”.

  • Franco removed all vestiges of parliamentary democracy. His regime was anti-liberal.

  • He outlawed political parties, eliminated suffrage and limited the freedoms of expression and association.

  • He prohibited labour organizations, and worker´s representation had to be made through compulsory affiliation to the single official vertical syndicate, the OSE. The right to strike was not recognized and it was considered treason.

  • Censorship was strict (radio, newspapers, tv...)

  • Conservative upper classes supported the Regime, and there was a pluralism for those who worked in favour of the regime, then Franco´s rule has been characterized as authoritarian rather than totalitarian but outside Spain in its early period it was considered to be fascist.


  • Franco never formulated a true constitutional system. He decreed seven fundamental laws during his rule. He provided the regime with an appearance of constitutionalism, but they were developed after the fact, adapting them to different situations.


  1. Labour Charter (1938)- Described the social policy of the regime, and stressed the mutual obligations of the state and its citizens: all Spaniards has the duty and right to work.

  2. Law of the Cortes (1942)-It was a purely consultative organ and its members were indirectly appointed. This members exercised executive authority but Franco had the right to dismiss these ministers.

  3. Charter of Rights (1945).The charter guaranteed all Spaniards the right to express their opinions freely, but without attacking the principles of the state.

  4. Law on Referenda (1945) to make the regime appear less arbitrary. It provided that issues of national interest would be submitted by means of popular referenda.

  5. Law of Succession (1947): It was the 1st  law to be submitted to referendum. It proclaimed that Spain would be a Catholic monarchy and that Franco would be regent for life and had the authority to name next king.

  6. Law of the Principles of the National Movement (1958): The falangist postulates and mono-partysm are formulated.

  7. Organic law of the State (1966). Separation between the functions of the president of government and the head of state. The vestiges of the Fascist terminology ere eliminated.

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