Francisco Franco

Francisco Franco Bahamonde (/ˈfræŋkoʊ/; Spanish: [fɾanˈθisko ˈfɾaŋko]; 4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975) was a Spanish general and politician who ruled over Spain as a dictator under the title Caudillo from 1939, after the nationalist victory in the Spanish Civil War, until his death in 1975. This period in Spanish history is commonly known as Francoist Spain. During the 1924–1930 dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, Franco was promoted general at age 33, the youngest in Europe. As a conservative and a monarchist, Franco opposed the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a democratic secular republic in 1931. With the 1936 elections, the conservative CEDA lost by a narrow margin, and the leftist Popular Front came to power. Intending to overthrow the republic, Franco followed other generals in launching a coup the same year, but failed to take control of most of the country and precipitated the Spanish Civil War. With the death of the other generals, Franco became his faction's only leader. Franco gained military support from various authoritarian regimes and groups, especially Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, while the Republican side included Spanish communists and anarchists, with support from the Soviet Union, Mexico and the international volunteers. In 1939, Franco won the war, which had claimed almost half a million lives. He established a military dictatorship and proclaimed himself Head of State and Government under the title Caudillo. In April 1937, Franco merged the fascist and traditionalist political parties in the rebel zone (FE de las JONS and Traditionalist Communion), as well as other conservative and monarchist elements, into a single party: the FET y de las JONS. At the same time, he outlawed all other political parties, and thus Spain became a one-party state. Upon his rise to power, Franco implemented policies that repressed political opponents and dissenters, were as many as between 60,000 and 400,000 died through the use of forced labor and executions in the concentration camps his regime operated. During World War II, he espoused neutrality as Spain's official wartime policy, but provided military support to the Axis in numerous ways. However, scholars consider Franco as conservative and authoritarian, rather than truly fascist. Historian Stanley G. Payne states, "scarcely any of the serious historians and analysts of Franco consider the Generalissimo to have been a core fascist." Spain was isolated by many other countries for nearly a decade after World War II. By the 1950s, the nature of his regime changed from being openly totalitarian and using severe repression to an authoritarian system with limited pluralism, and was allowed to join the UN. During the Cold War, Franco was one of the world's foremost anti-Communist figures: his regime was assisted by the West, and it was asked to join NATO. After chronic economic depression in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Franco presided over the Spanish miracle, abandoning autarky and pursuing economic liberalization, delegating authority to liberal ministers. The Francoist dictatorship kept on gradually softening over time and in 1975, Franco died at the age of 82. He restored the monarchy before his death, which made King Juan Carlos I his successor, who led the Spanish transition to democracy.


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