Fascism can be defined as a political system with centralization of power under a single-party dictatorship. Fascist dictators maintain authority through strict socioeconomic controls, suppression of the masses through censorship and terrorism, and policies of aggressive nationalism and racism (“Fascism”). Francisco Franco first implemented this government policy in Spain after witnessing its achievements in Germany and Italy. Franco’s strong nationalistic and military upbringing was the basis for his fascist dictatorship. What made Franco the “ultimate fascist dictator” was the fact that he was more palatable to the western countries. His focus was not on world domination, but rather on the consolidation of his own country. Based on his own ideas of what true Spanish values should be, he took steps to oppress the Spanish people and to unify them as a national socialistic mentality under a fascist regime.
The Spanish Civil War and Aftermath
During the Spanish Civil war, Francisco Franco served as General of the Nationalists. This party was comprised of parts of the army and former supporters of the Second Spanish Republic. The Republicans, which was the opposing party, consisted of all the members of the former republic (“The Spanish Case”). While fighting against the Republicans, General Franco was made leader of the Falange party. The Falange, established by Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, preached the ideals of Italian Fascism. The Falange disdained all forms of socialism and democracy. The party was later declared the only legal political party in Spain in 1939 (Payne, 1999). After the Civil War, Franco’s number one priority was to inflict unity and order in his country. Thousands of former Republicans were immediately shot or jailed while countless others fell victim to other forms of political and economic punishments (“"Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly”). Wise and crafty, Franco took advantage of divisions in his administration to prevent any one-group form becoming too powerful. Franco began to create a new type of dictatorial state, which he planned to rule when the Spanish Civil War ended. He would call his dictatorial state the Nuevo Estado. As el Caudillo, the Spanish ruler, he had final say over all matters economic, social, diplomatic, political, and cultural (Jensen, 2005). While an authoritative and highly feared man, he could not carry out his authority on his own. In fact, he relied heavily on the support of several organizations to help carry out his mission.
State and Party Organizations
Support from the Falange, the church, and most importantly, the military, made the continuation of his leadership possible. While the military did not necessarily make the policies, they had a heavy hand in making sure they were carried out (Jensen, 2005, p98). Fascism required absolute devotion to the state and specifically, to Franco as Spain’s leader. In order to solidify and validate his rule, Francisco Franco sought the recognition of the Catholic Church. Getting the church’s support was not that difficult because of Franco’s strong anti-communist views. With the backing of the church in a devoutly catholic country, the people found it hard to question Franco’s rule (Cowans, 2003).
Restrictions on Spanish Society
One of Franco’s first steps in building his new system of government, the Nuevo Estado, was to issue the Decree of Unification in 1937. This order gave Franco supreme authority to merge all Nationalists and monarchists into one party, the Falange (Cowans, 2003). Franco implemented several fundamental laws during his rule as a façade of constitutionalism. The majority of the laws were developed to legitimize existing issues or to reinforce his authority. The Labor Charter implemented corporatist policies to control working conditions, prices, wages, production and exchange (Cowans, 2003). Franco consolidated the labor force by unifying all...