Introduction The authoritarian past of Spain, ruled from 1939 to 1977 by a military dictatorship that founded its legitimacy on victory in a civil war, bequeathed a political legacy that still resonates into the present. Attitudes rooted in the past appear to endure in relation to the regulation of ‘public order’ and ‘anti-social behaviour’, the two main formulas with which a broad range of control techniques beyond the reach of the criminal justice system have been applied. Especially affecting politically and economically marginalised groups, these measures regulate many aspects of daily life and activities. The focus here is on the exercise of (peaceful) political dissent and protest. Although control over such activities might not be the main function of these regulations (more clearly oriented towards the control of economically excluded sectors of the population), it is one of the aspects more often perceived as problematic and openly criticised in both the media and academia.