Spanish censorship (1938--1981): Reform in an authoritarian state

Date of Completion

January 1995


History, European




Censorship of the media in Spain under the Franco regime differed from most dictatorial censorship in the fact it underwent a reform process, codified into law in 1966. In response to a desire to establish trade partnership with other European countries and heeding the directives of the Vatican, the regime felt the need to modernize and to give the appearance of liberalization. Since the stalwarts of the regime and Franco himself had little faith in democracy, press freedom was handed out in small portions, and often withdrawn as soon as it was given. The process became known as "gradualism," an evolutionary approach to democracy.^ Reform in the censorship laws became a testing ground for other reform, an experiment to determine if the regime could survive with limited freedoms. The results confirmed the worst fears, and no other institutional liberalization was begun until after Franco's death. But the free press that emerged from the period was able to lay the groundwork for the transition to democracy that followed the succession of King Juan Carlos. This book is story of that struggle against the repression of an authoritarian state. ^