Spanish History: 1936 – present

Escudo de Espana

A potted history of Spain, from the Civil War of 1936-1939 to the modern day.


1936-39 Spanish Civil War: more than 350,000 killed.

franco1939 Fascist General Franco leads Nationalists to brutal victory, allowing Nazi air force to practice bombing on various towns and cities held by the Republicans. At the end of the war, Republicans are executed, jailed or exiled.

1946-50 Franco regime ostracised by United Nations; many countries cut off diplomatic relations.

1955 Spain admitted to the UN.

1959 ETA is founded with the aim of creating an independent homeland in Spain’s Basque region. The full name of the organisation – Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna – means Basque Fatherland and Freedom.

1968 West African colony of Spanish Guinea is granted independence as Equatorial Guinea.

1973 December – Basque nationalists assassinate Prime Minister Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco in Madrid in retaliation for the government’s execution of Basque militants.

The Move to Democracy

1975 2juan carlos0 November – Franco dies. He is succeeded as Head of State by Prince Juan Carlos, who Franco personally names as his successor. With King Juan Carlos on the throne, Spain makes transition from dictatorship to democracy.

1977 June – first democratic elections in four decades.

1978 New constitution confirms Spain as a parliamentary monarchy.

1981 February  Ludicrous, failed military coup led by Tejero.

1982 Coup plot by right-wing extremists discovered.  Socialist government wins sizeable majority.  Spain joins Nato.

1986 – SAntonio Tejeropain joins the EEC.

1992 – Summer Olympic Games held in Barcelona. Seville hosts Expo 92. Celebrations mark the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s first voyage to America.

Aznar years

1995 – Leader of opposition Popular Party Jose Maria Aznar survives a car bomb blast.

1996 March – Jose Maria Aznar becomes PM following a stability deal with moderate Catalan and Basque nationalists who hold the balance of power after a general election in which his Popular Party emerges as the winner but fails to win an outright majority.

1998 September – ETA announces its first indefinite ceasefire since its campaign of violence began.

1999 November – ETA ends its ceasefire, blaming lack of progress in talks with the Spanish government

2000 Aznaaznarr’s right wing Popular Party (PP) wins landslide in general elections.

2001 Parliament grants political recognition to Republican guerrillas – known as the “maquis” – who continued resisting the nationalist dictator, General Francisco Franco, after the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939.

2002 January  Peseta replaced by Euro.

2002 EU summit held in Seville.

2002 July Morocco sends troops to counter alleged illegal activities on disputed rocky outcrop of Perejil off Moroccan coast. Spain sends forces to eject them and gunboats to guard its enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Spain pulls troops out after Spanish, Moroccan foreign ministers agree to restore status quo, leaving Perejil unoccupied.

2002 August A court suspends the radical Basque separatist party Batasuna for three years because of its suspected links with ETA.

2002 November North-west coastline suffers ecological disaster after oil tanker Prestige breaks up and sinks about 130 miles out to sea.

2003 May 62 Spanish peacekeepers returning from duty in Afghanistan are killed when their chartered Ukrainian plane crashes in Turkey.

2004 March 191 people killed in explosions on packed rush-hour trains in Madrid in near-simultaneous pre-election attacks. An Islamic group with links to al-Qaeda is later blamed. With Spain still in mourning, the Socialists under Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero defy earlier opinion polls and win a general election.

2004 April – Socialist Party leader,zapatero Zapatero, is sworn in as prime minister; he immediately orders Spanish troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. The last troops leave in May.

2005 February – Car bomb explodes in Madrid, injuring about 40 people. ETA is believed to be behind the attack.

Spain begins the process of granting legal amnesty for up to 800,000 undocumented immigrants.

2005 February – Voters approve the EU constitution in a referendum.

2005 May – Government offers peace talks with ETA if the group disarms.

2005 June – Parliament defies Roman Catholic Church by legalising gay marriage and granting homosexual couples same adoption and inheritance rights as heterosexual ones.

2005 September-October – At least 11 die and many more are injured in a series of mass attempts by African migrants to enter the enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta from Morocco in a bid to reach Spain. Spain reviews decision to deport those who do get through back to Morocco after expressions of international concern.

2006 January – Lt Gen Jose Mena Aguado sacked as head of army ground forces after suggesting that the military might take action in Catalonia if the region gains too much autonomy.

2006 March – ETA declares a ceasefire. In June, Prime Minister Zapatero says the government will hold peace talks with the group.

2006 June – Voters in Catalonia back proposals to give the region greater autonomy as well as the status of a nation within Spain.

2006 August-September – Spain tries to rally international support over illegal immigration from Africa. Canary Islands officials say more than 22,000 immigrants have arrived on the islands since the start of the year and hundreds have died while attempting the sea crossing.

2007 February – Trial begins of 29 suspects charged with involvement in the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

2007 June – ETA calls off ceasefire.

2007 October – Several people are found guilty and given jail sentences for the Madrid train bombings in 2004.

2007 November – Parliament passes a bill formally denouncing Franco’s rule and ordering the removal of all Franco-era statues and symbols from streets and buildings.

2008 March – Parliamentary elections. The ruling Socialist Workers’ Party wins re-election with an increased margin, but falls short of an absolute majority.

2008 April – Prime Minister Zapatero unveils new cabinet, which for the first time includes more women than men.

2008 October – Unemployment rate hits 11.3%, with nearly 2.6 million people out of work.

2009 January – Spanish economy enters recession for first time since 1993.

2009 May – The parliament of the Basque region votes in the first non-Nationalist regional government in more than 30 years, under Socialist leadership, following elections in March.

2009 July – Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos visits Gibraltar – the first visit by a Spanish minister in 300 years.

2010 January – Spain assumes EU presidency.

2010 February – Thousands of workers demonstrate against government spending cuts and plans to raise the retirement age by two years to 67 – the first mass labour protests since the governing Socialist Workers’ Party came to power in 2004.

2010 May – Unemployment rate climbs to over 20% for first time in nearly 13 years. Parliament approves 15bn-euro (£13bn) austerity package.

2010 September – ETA declares new ceasefire. Spanish government dismisses the move, saying there can be no political settlement until ETA renounces violence for good and disarms.

2011 April – Regional and local elections give a landslide victory to the Partido Popular. Los Indignados take to the plazas throughout Spain to to hold peaceful protests about…everything…for over two weeks.

2014 King Juan Carlos abdicates in favour of his son Felipe VI

2015 Artur Mas defies Spain by calling early elections on the Independence of the Region of Catalonia

2019 Spain´s economy goes from strength to strength and house prices start to rise


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