Civil-military relations in contemporary Spain can be traced back to the Civil War period. After three years of bloody fratricide war the victory of the insurgent forces saw the Spanish Republic turned into an authoritarian regime (totalitarian at the beginning) with General Franco at its head. Franco’s dictatorship was not a military dictatorship, but rather the dictatorship of a military officer who developed a three-pillar power base upon which he felt secure and whose three sides—the armed forces, the Church and the single fascist party FET-JONS—offered him complete control over society.
During the almost forty years that the authoritarian regime lasted, millions of Spanish men spent part of their lives as conscripts to military service under the orders of predominantly fascist officers and subject to the rule of an oppressive political power. It is not surprising, therefore, that in Spain the armed forces are regarded as one of the pillars of an authoritarian regime rather than, as is the case in other European countries, as those brave troops who defended democracy against fascism during the Second World War. Civil-military relations in Spain are therefore difficult, and to this day they bear the marks of dictatorship—this despite the fact that since the first governments of the democratic period attempts have been made to improve them.
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