Date of Defense



Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Peters

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Felkel

Third Advisor

Dr. Gunther Hega


The Spanish transition to democracy is justly deemed a success story due to the relative fluidity of the process, the non-violent means in which Spain was able to consolidate, and the stability of the democratic system over the last quarter of a decade. Particularly noteworthy to Spain's success at democratic consolidation was the history and events that preceded its foundation. The failures of Spain's previous attempt at a democratic state, the brief and chaotic Second Republic (1931-36), gave rise to the Spanish Civil War, a costly and bloody conflict that polarized a nation. The Civil War in turn gave birth to one of the longest and most entrenched dictatorships of the last century, the Franco regime (1939-1975).1 Few at that time would have predicted the return of democracy in Spain through non-violence, consensus, and moderation. Spain's historical background is proof that democratic consolidation in the post-Franco era was nothing short of miraculous. How then, did a country considered "anarchic in nature" undergo the process of democratic consolidation success fully? The answer lies within the ideas of consensus and moderation that were ever present throughout the transition. Spain's history of polarization, divergence, and suppression were vivid reminders of how the success of the transition into democracy would be crucial to the welfare of the post- Franco Spanish state. Thus, a capable and cognizant elite group of leaders upheld the ideas of consensus of moderation throughout the transition process, in an effort to modernize from the top. I argue that the ideas of consensus and moderation were the lynchpins to the success of the democratization process in Spain after 1975. In the following analysis, an investigation of the key events of the transition will show and how the consensus and moderation were key to Spain's successful democratization.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access