Justice, Politics, and Memory in the Spanish Transition

Paloma Aguilar

in The Politics of Memory and Democratization

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780199240906
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598869 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Democratization

 Justice, Politics, and Memory in the Spanish Transition

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In all processes of political change the emerging regime must face the difficult task of deciding what to do with the legacies of the former dictatorship, which people were working for the previous civil and military administration preserve, and whether or not to put on trial those responsible for having violated human rights under the previous regime. This chapter analyses what was done, and what was deliberately put aside in the Spanish case. The Spanish transition to democracy has been praised as mainly exemplary, and as demonstrating success in the stabilization of the new democratic regime. However, the final positive result should not obscure the fact that, because of the correlation of forces of the transitional period, and also because of the traumatic collective memory of the Spanish civil war, the victims of the Francoist repression were not properly rehabilitated and the dictatorship was not condemned in the Spanish parliament until 2002. In fact, a very broad Amnesty Law was passed in 1977 that not only allowed all ETA prisoners to get out of jail, but also impeded the judicial revision of the dictatorial past. None of these limitations have impeded the consolidation of democracy in Spain, but some important sectors of society feel that justice has not been done, which explains the very recent political, social and even cultural initiatives to face the authoritarian past.

Keywords: amnesty; collective memory; dictatorship; ETA; Francoism; Francoist regime; human rights; judicial revision; justice; legacies; political change; rehabilitation; Spain; Spanish Amnesty Law; Spanish civil war; Spanish transition to democracy; transition to democracy; trauma; victims

Chapter.  12338 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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