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Post Juan Carlos and Spanish Democracy
Created by John Eipper on 09/09/17 8:23 AM

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Juan Carlos and Spanish Democracy (Paul Preston, -UK, 09/09/17 8:23 am)

Just a couple of comments regarding Anthony Candil's recent WAIS post about the Spanish monarchy (8 September) The idea that Alfonso XIII "decided on his own to leave the country without any pressure of any kind" is absolutely without foundation. Municipal elections on 12 April 1931 had seen a massive majority for Republican candidates in the towns where, unlike much of the countryside, elections were not rigged. It was clear that for Alfonso to stay would have involved massive bloodshed, and it was made clear to him by his generals that they could not defend him.

What Juan Carlos did for Spain was to use his position as Franco's official successor, and therefore commander-in-chief of the armed forces, to neutralise the Francoists in the armed forces and the political establishment, thereby allowing more moderate elements of the right and left to negotiate the process of transition to democracy.

Whether Juan Carlos was a democrat is irrelevant. In order to secure his throne, he helped facilitate the democratic process, often at considerable risk to his person.

I would like to see proof from Anthony Candil for his categorical statement that "Juan Carlos instigated and encouraged the coup of February 23, 1981."  If Juan Carlos wanted a government with military participation, he could have done so legally and without encouraging the international ridicule that came with a military coup by accepting the offers made after the resignation of Adolfo Suárez by the leaders of the main political parties to accept a coalition government, including a general.

JE comments:  Anthony Candil has long argued that Juan Carlos was complicit in the 23 February coup.  (This was the topic of his 2013 talk at Adrian.)  It is not a commonly held belief.  Anthony:  Could you tell us how and when you formulated your hypothesis?

Carmen Negrín (next) also sees some involvement of the King in the coup--at least insofar as several conspirators received no more than a slap on the wrist as punishment.

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