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Spain Today: a Modern-Day Democracy

Franco died on 20 November 1975. From 1976 to 1978, Spain went through a process of transition – la Transición – towards democracy, which was supported by the majority of the political community and the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church, which had begun to distance itself from Franco’s declining regime, could not be considered a stakeholder in the constituent process, because it would mean the negation of secularity. It did nevertheless contribute through its attitude to facilitating the Transition and legitimising the democracy. However, despite favouring the development and acceptance of the spirit of the new constitution the Catholic Church was not always able to integrate the consequences. Marked by the fear of secularity, its requests and supports reflected the ambiguity of the support given to establishing a religiously neutral State joined with the desire of a special treatment as a result of its historical and numerical influence.
The new regime, based on a system of inter-confessional cooperation, therefore guarantees the religious and ideological freedom of all Spanish citizens. It also experienced an evolution in ordinary social legislation, in the areas of divorce or abortion, particularly during the governments of Felipe González (1982-1992).
Spain was able to find solutions regarding religious pluralism that respect both the democratic principles and the particularities of its past, even though it did not have a real tradition in the matter. Although several problems remained, they seemed above all due to the brief stabilisation period of the system and did not seem to challenge the democratic and secular condition of the State.

D 13 September 2012    AClaude Proeschel

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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