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Spain: Politics
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Politics


The Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat, located to the northwest of Barcelona, is a bastion of Catalan culture. Courtesy James Scofield - Courtesy James Scofield

The politicians who had played key roles in Spain's transition to democracy found that consolidating and administering this democracy was more difficult and less exhilarating than bringing it into being. Suarez, who had been pivotal in the reform process, found his leadership undermined by internal factionalism within his party coalition, the Union of the Democratic Center (Union de Centro Democratico -- UCD), as well as by his ineffectiveness in dealing with the country's growing economic difficulties and regional tensions.

The Socialists had not been part of the government during the transition process, although they participated through pacts and agreements, and thus they did not share responsibility for the inevitable mistakes made in the early period. When they came to power in 1982, however, they too were faced with the age-old problem of center-periphery tension. In dealing with the regional issue as well as with the economic crisis, the Socialists found it necessary to moderate their ideological principles. Although compromise was essential, it resulted in the contradiction of earlier pronouncements and in the alienation of some elements of the political elites. Nevertheless, such pragmatism and moderation remained crucial to consolidating the rule of democracy in Spain.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Spain was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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