This chapter critically interrogates the extent to which in the 1970s remodelled formations of power and influence were forged and contested though a generational shift as embodied by a series of aristocratic figures from the royal and Franco families. Primary texts under consideration include articles from ¡Hola! magazine, Spain’s major contribution to global journalism, and the novels of Corín Tellado, the best selling Spanish author of all time. This chapter demonstrates how and why the feminisation of mass culture is inextricably linked to its exclusion from canonical accounts of the Transition, as well as making the case that successful political figures have been more alive to the possibilities of the popular than most intellectuals in Spain.
A rare point of consensus in an increasingly divided socio-political landscape is that, for better or worse, the institutions and individuals that form contemporary Spain are the products of the Transition. Traditional political parties and commentators speak of the longest period of stability, development and democracy in the country’s tumultuous and frequently tragic history; by contrast, detractors question to what extent the ‘regime of ’78’ prevented Spain from realising its democratic potential, with much of the infrastructure and institutions of sociological Francoism left in tact. Frequently lost in debates surround the merits (or lack thereof) of the Transition is the need to distinguish between critiques of how it was handled at the time and the fetishistic veneration of the Constitution. Drawing together arguments developed in different chapters of this book, the conclusion suggests it is possible, and in fact desirable, to be critical of the latter whilst offering an ambivalent or even positive assessment of the former. A critical analysis is offered of the role of Podemos in a new political landscape that is more divided but, more positively, is also taking steps to deal with democratic deficits in relation to, for example, women’s rights.
The political and cultural casualties of Francoism’s bellicose centralism are imprinted in Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, depicting the aerial bombing of the Basque town. By the time of Franco’s death, Picasso was widely considered the twentieth century’s greatest artist, and Federico García Lorca was the most translated Spanish playwright. Lorca was executed by Falangist thugs shortly after the illegal rebel uprising, and his death, alongside Guernica, was evidence of the regime’s violent philistinism, ensuring an indelible link in the international psyche between Franco’s victory and a defeat for culture. As numerous studies have shown, the afterlife of Guernica is a key barometer for Francoism’s socio-political evolution. This chapter draws upon this scholarship to examine how competing discourses were both constituted by and constitutive of a direct association between culture and democracy, which transformed the former into an increasingly powerful tool of socio-political engineering.
In the 1960s, Spain had the fastest-growing economy in the world apart from Japan. As aspiration replaced austerity as the national ideal, the dictatorship increasingly used the mass media, as opposed to direct repression, as a means of wielding power. The interpellation of (un)willing subjects in a culture of non-inquisitiveness was evidently one of Francoism’s chief political triumphs, but work remains to be done on critically interrogating the information available to everyday Spaniards, alongside a more nuanced understanding of how this both shaped and reflected their interests. This chapter employs two case-studies – the bullfighter El Cordobés and pop singer Raphael – to explore the gender- and class-infected discourses that emerged around celebrity culture in the last thirteen years of General Franco’s life. The chapter analyses how and why young celebrity figures provided evidence for the oppositional left to understand mass-culture as the opium of the masses, a surreptitious form of depoliticisation. The hypothesis advanced is that a dogmatic desire to denigrate, rather than engage with, celebrity culture nevertheless proved counter-productive for their progressive ideological agenda.
The transition to democracy that followed the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 was once hailed as a model of political transformation. But since the 2008 financial crisis it has come under intense scrutiny. Today, a growing divide exists between advocates of the Transition and those who see it as the source of Spain’s current socio-political bankruptcy. This book revisits the crucial period from 1962 to 1992, exposing the networks of art, media and power that drove the Transition and continue to underpin Spanish politics in the present. Drawing on rare archival materials and over 300 interviews with politicians, artists, journalists and ordinary Spaniards, including former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez (1982–96), Following Franco unlocks the complex and often contradictory narratives surrounding the foundation of contemporary Spain.
Culture and community in the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia
During the Second Republic, federal statutes were introduced for Catalonia and the Basque Country, with another in Galicia in the process of being approved. The equation of dual identities with the purported disintegration of Spain constituted one, if the not the, chief justification for the military coup of July 1936. Adopting far more caution than had been exercised during the Second Republic, a concession to this democratic precedent and the interests of some of the most potentially conflictual regions of Spain was made in acknowledging Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia as historical nationalities whose passage from regions to autonomous communities would be fast-tracked. This chapter explores the role that culture has performed in both fostering and mitigating regional and State nationalisms, as well as contextualising how and why the economically poor Galicia has traditionally been less contentious than the more economically prosperous Catalonia and the Basque Country.
Isabel Preysler, Miguel Boyer, Julio Iglesias, Francisco Rivera ‘Paquirri’ and Isabel Pantoja
In some but not all respects, Spain skipped modernity and went from being a premodern to a postmodern society. That said, a tendency to overstress the traditionalism of late Francoism is replicated in a blindness to the continuities still in place in the 1980s, the decade in which Spanish democracy was consolidated. This argument is demonstrated through the example of the leading political and cultural celebrities of the time. Hence, for example, charting the trajectory of Julio Iglesia reveals how he depended on the patronage of the Francoist regime to become an international superstar before, in the years of Socialist rule, becoming one of Spain’s most important cultural and political ambassadors. The principal hypothesis advanced is that it is as quixotic to take celebrity out of political discussion as it is to take the politics out of celebrity culture.
This introductory chapter positions the book within existing scholarship on the Transition at a time when canonical accounts of Spain´s post-Franco normalisation are in the process of being challenged, not least by the emergence of the new political party, Podemos. Rapidly evolving political and socio-cultural realities ensure that this book intervenes by default and design in ongoing debates about whether the so-called ‘culture of the Transition’, alongside an associated nomenclature, the ‘regime of ’78’ – the year in which the new democratic Spanish Constitution was signed – remain, if indeed they ever were, fit for purpose. An outline of the different sections is provided, alongside a justification of the range of cultural artefacts used, methodology employed and the time-period under consideration. Anticipating the arguments developed throughout the book, the hypothesis is advanced that the cultural politics of the thirty-year period between 1962 and 1992 is as vital for understanding contemporary Spain as the three years of the Civil War were for the passage from dictatorship to democracy.