British historian John Elliott evaluates Spain’s progress on 40th anniversary of Franco’s death

Photo: El País
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• Oxford Emeritus Professor lauds Spain’s post-Franco democratic Transition

• Authority on Cataluña sees various ‘nations’ within Spanish State as viable

British historian and Hispanist John H. Elliott has said in an interview with El País that Spain has much to be proud of on the 40th anniversary of Franco’s death, but still many challenges to face.

Elliott, an authority on the history of Cataluña, author of The Revolt of the Catalans: A Study in the Decline of Spain (1598-1640) and a recipient of the 1996 Prince of Asturias Award, said that Spain’s modern transition to democracy after nearly 40 years of post-Civil War dictatorship under Francisco Franco dictatorship caught many observers by surprise. The country’s ability to make that transition, he said, was due in large part “to the common sense of a generation of politicians and to the king, who was key.”

Forty years after Franco’s death in 1975, Spain’s immediate challenge today is a return to real economic growth, he said, but not growth based on what he called a “phony prosperity” like that generated by the construction boom that ended in the real-estate market crash of 2008-10. The construction boom, he said, triggered corruption “everywhere” in Spain and the new generations are left with the legacy of that corruption to deal with.

He said the best future for Spain is not a “federal state” but one that he called “assymetrical,” recognizing the existence of various nations within the Spanish state.

Read the Full Interview in English at El País >>

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