Thursday 3 February 2011
The Spectre of Civil War in Spain's Transition to Democracy and the Case of Catalonia. The Vision of the British Press
Speaker: Jaume Guillamet (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
Chair: Prof. Paul Preston
Time: 18 h.
Place: LSE, Portugal Street, Cowdray House, 1st floor, Seminar Room 1.11
The British press covered the Spanish transition in a context of the threaten of civil war. Given the rejection by the Franco regime of any prospect of democratic change in last months of the dictator's lifetime, foreign correspondents and the editorial writers of the major London newspapers feared the worst.
The combination of the assassination of policemen and civil guards and government repression culminated in the execution on 27 September 1975 of 5 of the 11 ETA and extreme left FRAP militants sentenced to death in unfair military trials. Amid vehement international reaction and the withdrawal of their ambassadors by fifteen European countries, Spain seemed to be on the verge of a new civil war. The Times and The Guardian expressed alarm and The Daily Telegraph and The Financial Times were also worried.
The analysis of international media coverage of the Spanish transition to democracy (1975-1978) – a research project that also includes the principal French, Italian and US newspapers – provides a view of the transition unknown by the Spanish public, because of the strict controls to which the press was still subject until the elections of 1977. It also facilitates a comparison with the more limited vision of the Spanish press and with the analysis constructed by historians.
Autonomy demands for Catalonia and the Basque Country were a central issue. After 35 years, there is a striking contrast between on the one hand the wisdom of the 1977 solution to the Catalan question which restored the Generalitat of the 1930s and, on the other the changes involved in its inclusion in the subsequent system of 17 autonomous regions and the crisis generated by the second Statute of 2007 .
Jaume Guillamet and Prof. Paul Preston during the seminar