Thursday, October 9, 2008


In recent weeks some informed discussion websites have taken up the theme of is Spain in need of another Franco?

In many ways this is a discussion solely for Spaniards and really the key input has to come from those who lived under ‘Franquismo’. In the same way that a debate in Italy on the need for another Mussolini has to be confined to its nationals.

For instance in Britain we say that Mussolini could be credited with making the trains run on time. However only an Italian who lived through those years could say whether that was fact or fiction.

The debate on strong leadership normally comes when times are difficult such as now. When the going is easy the people have other less weighty matters on their mind.

There has always been those on the far right in Spain who yearn for the discipline of ‘Franquismo’ whilst those on the far left call for a return of the ‘republic’ regime. In normal times the vast majority of voters sit in the centre and hence keep their nations on the democratic straight and narrow. However these are not normal times and the swing in Germany in the 1930s behind Nazism should be held in mind.

Whatever nostalgia may remain in Spain for Franco and ‘Franquismo’ we have to remember its counterpoint when the Guardia Civil was feared by one and all with repression the key to keeping power.

The current level of corruption in Spain at a government and institutional level is one factor that has those who favour ‘Franquismo’ yearning for the past. Don’t be fooled, the Franco regime thrived on corruption, the only difference is that it was applied by just one section of society but today is enjoyed across the political spectrum.

As Britons we’d be fools to believe we are above such underhand dealings. In the 2008 Corruption List produced by Berlin based Transparency International the UK slipped to 16 th with a score of 7.7 with Spain 28 th on 6.5.

Chandrashekhar Krishan, Transparency International’s Executive Director, points to Britain’s ‘wretched and woeful record’ in prosecuting businessmen who pay bribes to foreign politicians and officials to win contracts. Sounds all too familiar to me. Bring back Churchill I say.

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