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Revisiting the Paradigmatic Case of the Spanish Transition to Democracy: European Integration, Citizenship and Political Culture

Pablo Calderon Martinez

The Spanish transition to democracy has been considered a 'paradigmatic case' or at the very least a point of comparison for any other transition in post-communist Europe and Latin America. It is hard to disagree with the notion that the Spanish transition, although not without its problems, was a resounding success; Spain's institutions and society, and the relationship between the two became similar to those in the rest of Western Europe in record time. For some Spain could not have achieved its peaceful transition to democracy had it not been fortunate enough to be in the 'right neighbourhood', whilst for others integration with Europe played a marginal role. Either way, Spanish society has become increasingly 'European'; the changes in the values, views and political attitudes of most Spaniards during the last three decades are evidence of this. This paper will analyse the role European integration's 'socio-cultural element' played in the democratisation of Spain. I will analyse how the positive influence of integration with Europe helped change Spanish society and socio-political institutions (from the party system to mass values on religion and individualism). In turn, this influence in Spain's social structures helped with the consolidation of democracy.

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