Francisco Franco was the dictator of Spain at a time when the country was not at its best. The government was not stable and far away from being secure. The country was utterly exhausted because of the long war in which it had been involved.
The country was impoverished, and internal division had torn the country apart. Francisco Franco’s dictatorship was very varied at different periods. At first, Franco had declared Spain to be completely neutral in the conflict.
However, he changed his decision after France fell in 1940. At that time, Germany was oppressed under the dictatorship of Hitler and Franco approached him, providing his alliance to fight on Germany’s side on the condition that Germany provided Spain with extensive military support and economic assistance.
Franco also demanded that France’s territorial establishments in Northwest Africa should be given to Spain.
Franco’s neutrality in the war
Hitler was adamant at not giving in into any of Franco’s demands. After Hitler’s rejection, Franco relatively sided with the Axis Powers but never gave a complete military commitment to them. Because of his neutrality, his realm was able to survive the war, and it did not get destroyed like the other Axis powers.
He became the last fascist dictator who had survived World War II, and he became the most hated head of the Western state. Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, during this period, received a lot of criticism.
However, the people who supported him were almost as many people who were against his reign. There was a period when the newly formed United Nations entirely excluded Franco and the country of Spain after the end of World War II.
The improving relations of Franco with other nations
However, this ostracism ended when the relationships between the Soviet World and the West worsened. In 1948, Spain’s relations with other countries started proceeding towards a reasonable regularity.
Now Franco was begun to be seen as one of the world’s leading statesman who was an anti-Communist. In 1953, a 10-year military assistance pact was signed by Spain with the United States, and this further advanced Franco’s reign in a positive direction.
Franco was able to some amount of respect from his critics when he liberalized his domestic policies during the 1950s and 60s. His regime continued with creative evolution. His self-confidence marked Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, and he stated that it was his ignorance of all the criticism that he received that he was able to reign successfully for so long.
Why was Franco a successful dictator?
Franco stated that the reason why his regime was successful was that he had support from both moderate liberals and extreme reactionaries. He never participated in any ordinary political conflicts. Instead, his game plan was to let his appointees implement and execute his policies while he sat above all, maintaining the balance between the liberals and extremes.
This was always beneficial to him because if any reaction came back to his policies, the individual ministers had to face all the criticism while he sat back and received and ruled with an upper hand. Franco also provided for his government even after he died. He was the only authoritarian who had made policies and had provided for the continuation of his government after his demise.
The rule of Franco after 1969
The Spanish state was made a monarchy through an official referendum that was passed in 1947. In 1967, a minority of deputies were allowed to stand for open parliamentary elections by Franco. In 1969, he officially designated Prince Juan Carlos, a member of the Spanish Royal Family, as his successor after his death.
He made the perfect move by declaring himself as the head of the state after resigning from the position of the premier of the Spanish state. He became the head of the “Movement” and took over as the in charge of the commander in chief of all the armed forces.
Francisco Franco’s dictatorship was a mix of different periods. He was never really liked as a ruler, and he was never very attached to his subjects. He was never inclined towards gaining support from the masses initially, but later, he relaxed his policies and made the working of his government a little liberal.
This changed his image in front of his people and other rulers from that of a rigorous and ruthless ruler to that of a civilized statesman who worked towards making Spain a state that works with the other powers of the world.
In the late 1960s, Franco’s health began to deteriorate drastically. He believed that his descendant, Prince Juan Carlos, would be able to handle the state affairs correctly because he had left Spain as a stable state whose government was structured according to his policies.
Franco passed away in 1975, and after his demise, Juan decided to change the system of Spain’s functioning. He stressed upon the fact that all political parties should be revived so that the authoritarian rule under Franco’s rule gets abolished.
The economy of Spain became prosperous, and within three years of Franco’s death, Spain became a democratic constitutional monarchy.
Democratic institutions of Spain gained success and reached great heights just like all the other democracies of the rest of Western Europe. The last two years of Franco’s rule were the best years of his reign because they saw a different side of Franco, and that led to the progress of the economy of Spain.