Spain. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Spain is 46,754,789 people in 2020. Spain was shaken on March 11 by one of the worst acts of terrorism that hit Europe in peacetime. A total of 191 people were killed and about 2,000 injured when ten explosive charges detonated at the same time on four full commuter trains at or near the Atocha station in Madrid. The attack occurred just three days before the parliamentary elections and affected everything to judge the outcome.
The ruling Conservative Partido Popular (PP) had a reassuring leadership during the election campaign. But the terrorist attack, or the government’s reaction to it, caused public opinion to turn to the Socialist Party PSOE’s advantage. The reason was that Prime Minister José María Aznar immediately stated that the Basque separatist group ETA was behind the blast and unequivocally maintained this despite the police having almost immediately suspected that the perpetrators were Islamists. It sparked huge protests among the Spaniards, who suspected that the attack was a direct result of the government’s unpopular support for the US-led war in Iraq. PSOE won the election with close to 43% of the vote against just under 38% for the PP. The Socialists formed a minority government with the support of ten small parties and party leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero became new prime minister.
The new government immediately decided to call home the 1,300 Spanish soldiers from Iraq. Critics thought it was a remission of terrorism, but the socialists pointed out that withdrawal was an election promise. Zapatero also condemned the Iraq war, thereby breaking the previous government’s close cooperation with the United States.
During the search for those responsible for the attack, seven suspected terrorists blew themselves up in the air when the police stormed an apartment in a suburb of Madrid. One police officer also died and several were injured. Towards the end of the year, some 20 people were detained for involvement in the act. Most of them were Moroccans who were suspected to be part of a group with links to the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. An Egyptian who was suspected to be the brain behind the attack was arrested in Italy in June and later extradited to Spain. The first sentence in the case fell in November, when a 16-year-old was sentenced to six years in prison for assisting in the transportation of explosives.
In December, ETA performed seven explosions at the same time in seven cities, with ten people being lightly injured. It became a reminder that the Basque terrorists were unable to figure out, even though police in Spain and France arrested more than 100 members during the year and revealed several large weapons hides. Among the arrested were political leader Mikel “Antza” Albizu.
The class structure of Frankism
Franco had his support among the old aristocracy, the big landlord class, but also among the traditionally conservative small and medium-sized farmers in Navarre, Galicia and Castile. The small middle class was politically divided between fascists and Christian Democrats on the one hand and Republicans on the other. The industrial workers were first and foremost in the Basque Countryand in Catalonia. There, the national front had its strongest bastions. Not just because of the workers, but also because parts of national citizenship and the middle class wanted regional independence over Madrid. During the Republic, the regions had a more extensive autonomy, but this was stopped by Franco, who wanted a strong central state. At the same time, he subjected intense persecution to local culture and language, which, in particular, in the Basque Country and Catalonia, made it possible to build very broad and strong alliances against the dictatorship. In Andalucia, the large masses of agricultural workers had a long tradition of collective self-government in the villages, and so they particularly endorsed anarchism.
The economic and industrial development of 1959 led to major changes in class conditions. Traditional citizenship was pushed into the background in favor of a citizenry with control over banking and financial capital, large parts of Spanish industry and with close ties to foreign capital. Furthermore, national citizenship developed in the economically important regions of the Basque Country and Catalonia. At the same time, the huge development of the technologically advanced industry, the banking and credit systems and the service industries led to a need for technical and administrative staff, and therefore, interlayer with a relatively high standard of living was developed.
The most important national organization under Franco was the Labor Committees – Comisiones Obreras (CCOO). They spontaneously emerged in the early 1960s as independent committees of individual companies. First and foremost communists, but also left-wing Catholics, socialists and independents participated. The labor committees developed into a strong movement and got its people into the lowest levels of confidence in the regime’s official unions. From 1967 they were severely suppressed and persecuted.
The oldest of the national organizations is the Socialist UGT, the Union General de Trabajadores, who, unlike the Labor Committees, refused to use the official system. Under the Franco dictatorship, therefore, it lived a relatively anonymous existence.
The second of the great civil organizations of the pre-Civil War, the anarchist CNT (Confederacion Nacional de Trabajo), from the late 60s and 70s, received very extensive support from the advancing working class because of its radical struggle against the dictatorship. Unlike the other organizations where the members were trade unions and trade unions, the membership of CNT was personal. When the Franco dictatorship finally collapsed after Franco’s death, CNT had 2 million personal members.
The government responsible for state terrorism
A former security chief and a PSOE employee were brought to justice for their connection to the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL, the Anti-Terrorist Liberation Groups), which the investigation could link with the security forces. One of the two accused now explained in court that former Prime Minister Felipe González was the chief of the GAL responsible for the murder of 27 people in Euskal Herria during the so-called “dirty war” in the 80s against ETA. A former Interior Minister was also investigated for having paid French officials to assist in the persecution of supposed ETA members.
Spain was involved in fishing disputes with Canada and Morocco. Both conflicts were resolved only after the EU had concluded agreements with the countries concerned to reduce Spanish fishing in their territorial waters. In the latter half of 1995, Spain held the presidency of the EU and was responsible for the implementation of a number of international summits. Still, the opposition questioned the government’s ability to meet the requirements for joining the European Monetary Union (EMU).