chapter  4
22 Pages

The image of the Spanish soldier after the transition to democracy


In Spain, the transition to democracy was not a consequence of the Second World War (in which Spain did not take part), but took place 30 years afterwards, when almost all of Western Europe represented a group of democratic countries. Nor was it a consequence of the fall of the Soviet system. Spain was a dictatorship, like the countries in the Soviet system, but it was capitalist. This is an important difference. The Spanish transition had a unique face, like that of the satellite nations of the USSR. However, whereas they had to accomplish a double transition, i.e. towards democracy and towards capitalism, Spain merely returned to democracy. In Spain, the transition to democracy was a consequence of the death of the dictator, and the consensus was immediately articulated by all political forces that Spain should be democratic. The Spanish Armed Forces definitely changed with the change of regime. The characteristics and moral values of Franco’s army and of the armed forces of the Spanish democracy differ fundamentally. The former was an army formed by a civil war; without any political conception except the defence of the regime; isolated from society, with clear functions of territorial occupation and a clear objective: protection against an internal and an external enemy (international communism). It was subjected to blind discipline, with a strong corporative component (defender of the army’s autonomy), and composed of conscripts. Today, a good 34 years after Franco’s death, the Spanish Armed Forces show very different characteristics. First, like in all well-established democracies, they exhibit wholehearted approval for the supremacy of civilian political power over the military apparatus. Second, they are integrated into international institutions. This has changed the mentality and attitudes of soldiers and redefined the military objectives and missions. They have a permanent role in international missions and peacekeeping operations, which are decided upon by the parliament. The army has been professionalized and the conscript has

completely disappeared. Another important characteristic is the incorporation of women into the Spanish Armed Forces on an absolutely equal footing (today, they constitute 12 per cent of the total force). All of these changes have increased confidence and effected a positive assessment of the military in public opinion. Nevertheless, there is a certain negative response on the part of the public to participation in outof-area missions and to investments in defence in general.