Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNuméros53-1Dossier. 50 years of Scholarship ...Transnational and International D...

Dossier. 50 years of Scholarship on the Southern European Democratic Transitions: A Comparative Approach

Transnational and International Dimensions of the Transitions

Dimensions transnationales et internationales des Transitions
Dimensiones transnacionales e internacionales de las Transiciones
Sethelos Isidoros Balios et Antonio Muñoz Sánchez


Les transitions démocratiques en Europe du Sud dans les années 1970 se sont développées presque en parallèle et ont suscité l’énorme intérêt des acteurs internationaux, tels que les États-Unis et la CEE. De plus, malgré les particularités et les origines différentes de chaque cas, les Transitions ont abouti à l’établissement de systèmes démocratiques, pleinement intégrés dans la CEE. Cet article vise à mettre l’accent sur les dimensions internationales des Transitions, ainsi que sur les éventuelles interactions transnationales de la démocratisation en Espagne, au Portugal et en Grèce. En outre, il aborde ces questions à travers trois chapitres. Dans le premier, l’article examine les relations internationales des régimes ibériques et de la Grèce avec les acteurs internationaux les plus importants, notamment les États-Unis et la CEE, le deuxième chapitre se concentre sur l’influence de ces acteurs pendant les Transitions et le troisième chapitre sur les implications du processus d’intégration de la CEE sur la relation entre les trois pays.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • 1 Cavallaro, Kornetis, 2019.

1The vision of Europe’s history after 1945 as an almost teleological process of modernization, democratization and convergence dominates collective imagination. More recently, the economic crisis, the rise of the extreme-right and Brexit have damaged this perception, but have not swept away an optimistic account of our contemporaneity, in which the EEC/EU appears as a powerful engine that drives the peoples of the continent towards a horizon of well-being, freedom and fraternity. The “myth of Europe” retains particular freshness in Portugal, Spain and (to a lesser degree) Greece, where it is embedded in their own national myths. The idea of a Sonderweg, happily closed with the integration into the EEC, is shared by both scholars and ordinary folk, who tend to interpret recent history of the three countries as a virtuous process of Europeanization by which atavistic backwardness was overcome. In this “fairytale”, the 1970s transitions represent the great turning point from an unhappy past to a blissful present as members of the European family1.

  • 2 O’Donnell, Schmitter, Whitehead, 1986, p. 19.

2Despite the central role played by the European “manifest destiny” in the idealized interpretation of the recent history of Greece, Portugal and Spain, their own official narratives of their respective democratic transitions were constructed solely with domestic materials, as a sort of national epic, free from foreign “interferences”. In the 1980s, political science further strengthened this view with a very influential thesis on democratic transitions, the drive of which was that “domestic factors play a predominant role”2. Shortly after, however, the democratization wave in Eastern Europe, driven by an external factor (the crisis in the USSR), revealed how misled the thesis was, and forced a reconsideration of how the international context influenced transitions, including those in Southern Europe. This revision was to be put forward by historians, especially after the year 2000, when primary sources began to be accessible. Now we know that the construction of democratic regimes in the three countries was a process deeply embedded in the European geopolitical reality of the time, and that its understanding is, therefore, limited without considering the incentives, constraints and influences from beyond national borders.

3This article presents, in a very synthetic form, some of the key achievements of the historiography on the international context of democratization in Southern Europe. The first part tackles the relations between Mediterranean dictatorships and the Western powers. The second part analyses the impact of international context on the processes of political change, starting with the outbreak of the revolution in Portugal, in April 1974, and ending with the first free elections in Spain, in June 1977. The third part shows how these new democracies dealt with the common goal of joining the EEC. The text combines the analysis of each national case with that of common elements and mutual interactions and influences. The international dimension addresses the way in which foreign actors, as well as the relation between them and the international context, influenced the decision-making in the subject of our case studies. The transnational dimension covers the interaction, either direct or indirect, between the three countries, and the possible implications political developments in each one may have had on the other. Focusing on the international and transnational dimension will help better understand the peculiarities of the national level.

“Europeanization” under authoritarian regimes

“Change through rapprochement”, a pragmatic Western strategy vs Iberia and Greece

  • 3 Telo, 1996.
  • 4 Viñas, 2003.
  • 5 Fonseca, Marcos, 2008.

4The bipolar world that began to take shape in the last phase of WWII proved to be the lifeline for the Iberian dictatorships. As they made clear in the autumn of 1944, when they left the Spanish exiles, who launched an offensive on Catalonia from France, in the lurch, the Western Allies would not act against the authoritarian regimes of Southern Europe. They would intervene in Greece, though, by supporting the anti-communist side in the civil war, giving way to a fragile democracy that excluded the defeated. The high strategic value of the three countries was the key to the rapid creation of alliances with the new American empire, thus ensuring their insertion into the Western Bloc3. Only Spain, marked by the stigma of Francoism’s fascist origins, was excluded from NATO4. The brotherhood-in-arms with the Western powers not only ensured the survival of the regimes, but also served as a means to launch military enterprises, such as the Portuguese colonial war, which would have been undoable without the military aid provided, largely, by France and West Germany5.

  • 6 Leitao, 2007; Guirao, 2021.

5The cooperation projects promoted to foster development and social cohesion in Europe also offered enormous possibilities for the consolidation of the Iberian dictatorships and their further international normalization. From the mid-1950s onwards, Portugal and Spain dismantled their autarchic system and opened their markets to join the European economic miracle convoy, of which Greece was already a member, with strong support from the USA, the World Bank and the IMF. Foreign investment, migration and tourism were, for the three countries, the driving forces of an extraordinary economic boom that would bring about tectonic social changes. The crystallization of the EEC as the main project for economic cooperation in Europe would make it essential for Spain, Portugal and Greece to reach a stable relationship with it. Athens signed an association agreement in 1961 and, in turn, Lisbon and Madrid sought a rapprochement with the Community a year later6.

  • 7 Del Pero et al., 2009.

6The relationship of Francoism and the Estado Novo with the EEC has been traditionally narrated as a story of failure. Given the democratic essence of the European project, the Iberian regimes were marginalized and forced to settle for agreements of an exclusive economic nature, only concluded in the early 1970s. Now we know that this is a simplistic approach that obscures the complexity of the European-Iberian relations, in which some of the keys for the future transitions lie. The EEC did not close the door on Spain and Portugal, but left it ajar. The motivation was as economical as it was political. It responded to a strategy aimed at fostering democratization trough cooperation. Following US “theory of modernization”, the Six came to understand that having closer ties with the Iberian Peninsula would not strengthen the regimes, but, on the contrary, accelerate the pace of the profound structural changes taking place there, which would inevitably lead to the obsolescence of the dictatorships and pave the way for democracy. The relaxation of repression and the first liberalization projects tried out, especially by Franco’s regime from the early 1960s onwards, reinforced this belief7.

  • 8 Fernández Soriano, 2020.

7However, the optimism about the inexorable advance of democracy in the “free world” rapidly waned in Africa, Latin America and Europe itself, where the military coup in Greece, in 1967, was even supported by Washington. Europe no longer followed the US and their benevolent stance towards the colonels’ dictatorship, the same way it did not accompany them in the Vietnam War. Put under the pressure of public opinion, shocked by the images of repression in Greece shown on TV, the Six took measures against Athens, such as freezing the association agreement and isolating the country in the Council of Europe until it was forced out in 1969. As a reaction to the situation in Greece, for the first time, the EEC explicitly defined itself as a democratic project in which there was no room for dictatorships. The actual effect of this change on the Six’s policy towards dictatorships was, however, minor. Despite the violence in Greece not ceasing, and although the revolution of 1968 had turned the Zeitgeist definitively against the dictatorships in Southern Europe, the main EEC countries slowly loosened the pressure on Greece and relied on the strategy of “change through rapprochement” that they had been developing towards Portugal and Spain8.

Hopes of democratization without democratic promotion

  • 9 Lopes, 2014, pp. 108-114.
  • 10 Sala, 2011; Sanz, 2006; Oliveira, 2017.

8In the early 1970s, German Ostpolitik gave a strong impetus for the détente between the blocs. Southern European regimes also benefited from the new spirit of cooperation that spread across the continent. Leading European governments sought to enhance good relations with the regimes and publicly welcomed political reform projects aimed at moving closer to the EEC. Economic interests also fueled tolerance and good will towards the regimes, a card the latter learned to play masterfully. In order to build a gigantic dam in Mozambique, Lisbon set up an international consortium of companies backed by the respective governments9. Madrid delayed, for years, the choice between the (German) PAL and the (French) SECAM color television systems so that Bonn and Paris would compete for primacy by, for instance, supporting Spain’s rapprochement to the EEC, whereas Athens threatened to stop German investments if Bonn did not hinder political agitation among Greek Gastarbeiter, a very sensible image problem for the colonels’ regime that Francoism also had to face, while the Estado Novo, in turn, did not, due to the massive demobilization of Portuguese migrants in Europe10.

  • 11 Muñoz Sánchez, 2005, pp. 496-497.
  • 12 Mac Queen, Oliveira, 2010.

9The socialist parties in power participated, without enthusiasm, in this pragmatic approach and were, for this reason, harshly criticized by the raucous alternative left and their own left-wing. Contacts with the modest socialist movement in Iberia and Greece sought to appease these critical voices, rather than to provide real support. During a meeting of the Socialist International (SI) in 1972, the exiled Mário Soares urged his comrades to “decide whether they want to provide effective and practical help [...] or whether they simply propose to continue to make declarations”11. Effective political support came mainly from socialists when in the opposition, such as the Labour Party, which, in July 1973, organized an impressive protest campaign against Caetano’s visit to London that gave the PS leader large visibility12.

  • 13 Míguez González, 1990, p. 120.
  • 14 Castaño, 2018, p. 11.

10Broadly speaking, the huge gap between European rhetoric and Realpolitik was devastating for democrats in Greece, Spain and Portugal. Instead of undertaking effective measures to put the regimes in a difficult position, Paris, Bonn and London were more interested in any underlying positive changes in the regimes that would justify further concessions on their way to joining the EEC. The Spanish author José Luis López Aranguren resignedly asked himself in 1973: “Is it worth running the risk of democratic concessions if, in any case, sooner or later, the world will end up proving us right, as it has so often done, and the European Community admitting us into its midst?”13 The liberal Portuguese dissident Francisco Sá Carneiro wrote that same year: “It seems the Common Market is designing a parallel evolution through a strange extension of the concept of democracy and freedom which will lead to its opening to Mediterranean authoritarianism”14.

  • 15 Muñoz Sánchez, 2005, pp. 499-500.

11Despite the start of the student revolt in Athens in November 1973, which led to an internal coup in the dictatorship and to the rise of the hard-liner Brigadier Ioannidis to power, the assassination, weeks later in Madrid, of prime minister Luis Carrero Blanco, and the pronouncement of high officials in Lisbon, who considered the military victory was not achievable and publicly called for a political solution, nothing suggested in the European capitals that essential changes were brewing in Greece, Spain and Portugal. The solidity of the regimes seemed absolute and confirmed by political scientists, whereas the reforms continued, with their ups and downs, especially in Spain. There, the new PM Carlos Arias Navarro presented, in February 1974, his government program, which came as a positive surprise event to sectors of the SI, which saw the country on the verge of a “true liberalization”. Confident in the virtues of détente, aware that the democrats in those countries were much weaker than the communists, and lacking an alternative plan to the voluntary evolution of dictatorships, the West could not even imagine the upcoming end of dictatorships. When, on 24 April, Soares spoke in Bonn about an imminent military coup, German comrades listened to him with sympathy. It was not the first time Soares had predicted that the Estado Novo was going to fall the day after15.

The Portuguese Revolution and the European “peaceful intervention”

12If the collapse of the Southern dictatorships was not even considered a remote possibility, the outbreak of a revolution belonged even more to a political science fiction scenario. By breaking all the rules of the Cold War, rekindling the embers of the almost forgotten socialist ideals in the old continent and representing a real danger to the geopolitical equilibrium, the Portuguese Revolution had a huge international impact and drove many actors on both sides of the Iron Curtain to try to exercise their influence. Conversely, key political actors in Portugal searched for external support to promote their own agenda. The “welcomed foreign interference” stance had a direct impact on the ultimate failure of the Revolution and the implementation of a European-style democracy. The political earthquake in Portugal was also going to have a global impact on Western politics towards Southern Europe, which would influence both the Transition in Greece and, specially, the one in Spain.

American vs European response to the Revolution

  • 16 Gomes, Moreira de Sá, 2008.

13The bloodless implosion of the Estado Novo executed by the MFA, aimed to achieve both freedom for Portugal and the end of the colonial war in Africa, produced great relief among Western allies and acted as a groundswell of sympathy for the new authorities in Lisbon. Even Washington did not share the scaremongering of President António Spínola, who, in his desperate bid to save the Empire, provided Nixon with a depiction of an almost apocalyptic scenario if the MFA and PCP were not stopped. The appointment of a new government led by Vasco Gonçalves, a leftist officer and communist sympathizer, in the same days of July that the Greek regime fell, was the beginning of the end for American optimism towards the Revolution, which was practically buried by Spínola’s demission shortly after16.

  • 17 Del Pero et al., 2010.

14The political paralysis in Washington in the wake of the Watergate scandal, coupled with the growing anti-Americanism in the old continent and the lack of a tradition of democracy promotion without the use of heavy weapons, made it impossible for the US to institute a constructive strategy towards the instability that spread across Southern Europe. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger opted, then, for a policy of damage containment, in which revolutionary Portugal would get the key role. Instead of trying to prevent the communist takeover there, he believed Western governments should accelerate it by denying financial support to Lisbon and expelling Portugal from NATO. Turned into a new Cuba, the Iberian country would function as a deterrent warning to other Southern European societies. In addition to “vaccinating” the Mediterranean, and especially Italy, against leftist radicalism, Washington hoped that a communist Portugal would arouse anti-Soviet fears in NATO countries, severely damaging German Ostpolitik and curbing Europe’s aspirations of autonomy from the US17.

  • 18 Costa Pinto, Nuno Teixeira, 2002.
  • 19 Fonseca, 2009.

15However, Kissinger’s “vaccine theory” would not echo in Europe, where a policy of aid and cooperation with Portugal was advocated in order to weaken radicals and strengthen moderates. Igniting this “European response” to the Revolution was, however, quite complex. The oil crisis led to political instability and national introversion in Western Europe, and the EEC entered a period of “eurosclerosis”. During 1974, no initiative was undertaken in Brussels to support Portugal’s weak economy, and no efforts were made to even promote an attractive image of the EEC in a country with weak Europeanism, where the, then dominant, leftist discourse attacked the “Europe of monopolies” and idealized Third World socialism as a model for Portugal18. West Germany was the only European country that had not been durably affected by the oil crisis, it had the necessary resources to influence Portugal and, additionally, it had compelling reasons for the revolution to fail. Bonn was, thus, to turn into the driving force of the “European answer” to the Portuguese Revolution19. The pillars of this policy were financial assistance, direct pressure on Lisbon’s authorities and support to the non-communist parties.

Promoting “democratic” parties

  • 20 Castaño, 2013.

16On April 25, 1974, the PS was a tiny group of professors and lawyers whose fundamental political capital were their enthusiastic leader and the ties he had made with the main political family in Europe during his exile. As the minister of foreign affairs, Mário Soares led the decolonization in the following year, and made an intensive promotion of the new Portugal abroad, which was, at the same time, a successful campaign of self-promotion at home. Although the PS publicly defended a leftist alliance à la française, from the very beginning, Soares depicted the PCP to his European colleagues as a threat to democracy, all the while asking for massive economic and political support from the very same social-democracies that he, himself, accused of being too moderate in their own countries to be an example for revolutionary Portugal20.

  • 21 Sablosky, 2000.

17Germans and Swedes, in the first place, paid for the whole infrastructure, salaries of hundreds of functionaries, and the modernization of the socialist newspaper República, and also sent experts to Lisbon to help the PS out in organizational matters, propaganda or electoral tactics. But the main support to the PS had a political nature: by meeting very often with his “friends” Olof Palme, Willy Brandt and François Mitterrand, Mário Soares embodied the image of Portugal’s representing figure for the most attractive and powerful political family in Europe. Using a personalized campaign to back the extremely popular Soares, the PS got an impressive victory in the Constituent Assembly election in April 1975, with almost a 38% of the votes. The PCP, which had almost monopolized the opposition to the regime and was leading the construction of a “socialist democracy” in Portugal with the support of the MFA, got only a dissapointing 12% of votes21.

  • 22 Del Pero et al., 2010; Castaño, 2013.

18The virulent confrontation between the PS and the PCP after the elections was a millstone around the neck of those hoping for an à la française leftist union, and opened up new possibilities for the northern European social democracies to influence the Revolution by strongly backing their comrades in Lisbon. During the summer of 1975, the Committee for Solidarity with Portuguese Democrats was stablished. Its modus operandi was to hold high-profile meetings between the leading figures of European socialism with Soares, where measures to support those who opposed the revolutionary process led by PM Vasco Gonçalves were discussed. In response to a journalist´s inquisitive question whether the Commitee was intervening in Portugal´s internal affairs, the Swedish PM Olof Palme implicitly recognized it by saying that “it is the duty of every socialist in Europe to do everything possible to prevent Portugal from falling victim to fascism or communism”. The Committee even argued the possibility of a military intervention in Portugal in the case of a definitive communist takeover22.

  • 23 Stenger, 2011.

19The European conservatives, very weakened in that “social democratic decade”, tried to vindicate themselves in Portugal, where they saw great possibilities for a Christian Democratic party, like in Italy after 1945. Lacking any contacts in Lisbon, they spent the first critical months of the Revolution searching for a partner, whereas the European socialists launched “what might well be the most massive party-to-party aid program ever seen in the democratic world”. The approach to the liberal Sá Carneiro´s PPD failed after the party took a turn to the left following Spinola´s resignation and the organization tried to enter the SI. Finally, Freitas de Amaral’s CDS was invited to cooperate. The political backing of the European conservatives turned out to be crucial for a small party that was constantly under the threat of illegalization due to its “antirevolutionary” stance. To deviate from its dictatorial past, the CDS sought a full assimilation into the European conservative family, and its program became a mere copy-paste of the ones adopted by those parties. The strong Europeanism of Portugal’s main conservative party would contribute to a decades-long marginalization of the extreme nationalist right23.

Conditioned financial aid and political pressure

20Party cooperation and other instruments of parallel democracy played an important, but not central, role in the successful European efforts to address the Portuguese Revolution. Much more effective was the “carrot and stick” policy towards the government of Vasco Gonçalves during the “hot summer” of 1975, which was encouraged by the PS and other political forces, and (in a much more discreet way) by the moderate sectors of the MFA under the leadership of Ernesto Melo Antunes, minister of Foreign Affairs during that period.

  • 24 Birle, Muñoz Sánchez, 2020; Castro, 2002.

21After the failed conservative putsch on March 11, 1975, some European governments interpreted communists were about to take power in Lisbon. Worried about Paris and London’s spirit of resignation towards the Portuguese crisis, and convinced that “the whole détente was at risk”, the German chancellor Helmut Schmidt launched an urgent bilateral and multilateral offensive to actively influence the revolution. The critical situation of the Portuguese economy after one year of massive increased wages and inflation, deprivation of external investment and constant capital flight, created a unique opportunity for an effective foreign intervention. During the electoral campaign, Bonn announced a plan of 70 million DM as financial assistance for Portugal. Whereas the public understood it as a disinterested gesture of European solidarity, Lisbon’s government was informed that money would not finance the construction of socialism (i.e., the large number of recently nationalized companies). In the next weeks, the EEC followed the German initiative and also approved a special fund for Portugal, with respect to “democratic standards” as a requirement for its implementation. This conditional aid, never known during the dictatorship, was felt by the Portuguese PM as an intolerable interference in internal affairs. Addressing a delegation of the European Parliament, Vasco Gonçalves accused West Europe of pretending that Portuguese authorities would behave like “good kids”24.

  • 25 Gomes, Moreira de Sá, 2008.

22In order to strengthen the effectiveness of the European strategy, aimed to “embrace Portugal” and avoid its fall down into the “Communist Hades”, the Nine sought to detach both Washington and Moscow from the Portuguese crisis. Especially disturbing was Kissinger’s insistence in his “vaccine theory”. For the secretary of State, the elections in April had been a mere “popularity contest” without any consequence on the revolutionary process, no matter what the “ridiculous Europeans” believed. Thus, the moment had come to expel Portugal from NATO and let the country fall into the arms of the USSR. To compensate it, Francoist Spain would then join the Alliance. Europeans spoke then in a clear-cut way: if the US insisted in its Machiavellian strategy, transatlantic relations would suffer. Even the new US Ambassador to Lisbon, whose initial mission had been to prepare Portugal’s disconnection from the West, then recommended to follow the European allies. Despite his conviction that there was no hope for democracy in Portugal, Kissinger eventually gave up25.

  • 26 Del Pero, 2010.

23While the USSR’s policy towards the Carnation Revolution has not yet been investigated in depth, it is widely accepted that Moscow sympathized with the idea of a leftist democracy in Portugal, but was not willing to support the implementation of a socialist regime in a NATO country, for this would dynamite the European détente. Following the Western warning in the spring of 1975, stating that the Helsinki Summit might be called into question by the situation in Portugal, Moscow appears to have stopped aiding the PCP altogether to focus, instead, on supporting the communists in the new countries of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. What seems beyond doubt, contrary to some ideologically biased interpretations, is that, as some European governments feared, the PCP was indeed working for the establishment of a socialist regime26.

24The Helsinki Summit in July 1975 would offer an opportunity to apply extreme Western pressure on the Portuguese leaders. President Francisco Costa Gomes heard from Schmidt, Ford and others that a socialist Portugal would risk international isolation. Aware of the severity of the situation, upon his return to Lisbon, Costa Gomes proceeded to the controlled dismantling of Gonçalves’ government, and paved the way for the moderate sectors of the MFA that eventually put an end to the Revolution in November. The path towards building up a western-like democracy was eventually open.

The fall of the Colonels’ Regime and the International Context

25Similarly to the Portuguese case, the incapacity of the Greek dictatorial regime to successfully complete a military intervention abroad, that is, the events happening in Cyprus, was the principal reason for its collapse. But no further parallelisms exist between the two countries. In Greece, there was neither a total collapse of the State’s institutions nor a social revolution. Contrary to the Portuguese case, in Greece, army officers handed power to a civil government led by the well-known conservative leader Konstantinos Karamanlis. Moreover, Western interests in the country and the eastern Mediterranean were not endangered, thus, there was no need for a direct foreign intervention. Nevertheless, this does not mean that international factors were absent in Greece. Despite the fact that, compared to Spain or Portugal, the Greek Metapolitefsi was a more rapid and smooth transition to democracy, it is important to have in mind that the institutional transition lasted almost a year, and the outcome was far from certain during the first critical months.

Europe as the cornerstone of Greece’s foreign policy

  • 27 Λαλιουτη [Lalioyti], 2016, pp. 449-450.

26Washington’s open support to the dictatorial regime established by the colonels led to a deep anti-Americanism in Greek society, as well as across the political spectrum of the newly established democracy27. Additionally, the decision to not provide Athens with the necessary political and diplomatic support during the Cyprus crisis, that practically helped Turkey occupy one third of the island, made it even more difficult to exercise any essential influence on the Greek Transition. As a protest towards the USA, the Greek government decided to leave the military structure of NATO in August 1974. The decision had an internal and an external dimension for Greece. Firstly, it provided further social legitimation to the new government. Secondly, it made it even more important for Athens to strengthen the ties with its European allies.

27Another difference between Portugal and Greece is that, while the former had to deal with the final collapse of the Empire and the search of a new international role during the Revolution, Greece’s pro-European policy was not a new concept, and the new government prioritized the necessity to deepen their relations with the EEC. For the political elite, especially for the conservatives and the liberals, the main issue was the consolidation of a democratic regime in which the democratic deficit of the dictatorship’s democratic system was not present. Advancing towards this goal, the two main objectives were the total abolishment of the anticommunist institutional framework, and the proper and definitive solution of the form of state. This issue was resolved via referendum in December 1974, establishing a constitutional republic. Most of the personalities who participated in the National Unity government had previous political experience in the pre-junta period, and Karamanlis himself had been prime minister (1956-1963), and responsible for the pro-European orientation of the country that had derived in the association to the EEC in 1961. Karamanlis arrived in Athens, after 11 years of exile, in the French president’s official plane, which Valéry Giscard d’Estaing made available to him. This act can be interpreted as a manifestation that the fall of the dictatorship was perceived as a positive development and that European democracies were trusting Karamanlis.

  • 28 Ριζας [Rizas], 2013, pp. 191-193.

28The collapse of the Estado Novo had a minor impact in Greece, and most observers considered the Ioannidis regime to be stable. That is to say, the Turkish intervention in Cyprus and the incapacity of the Greek regime to fight back were the reasons for the rapid collapse of the dictatorship. In any case, the return of Karamanlis and the permanence of General Gizikis, Ioannidis’ personal choice in 1973, in the presidency of the Republic, was an assurance that Greece would not become a second Portugal. In other words, there was no leftist military organization, as it had occurred in Portugal, capable of sparking a revolution in Greece. On the other hand, the decision to leave the military sector of NATO, as a protest to American priorities in the region during the crisis in Cyprus, alarmed Washington regarding the change of balance in the Mediterranean, and urged European governments to make it clear to Greeks that they should not consider the EEC as an alternative to NATO28.

  • 29 Σβολοπουλος [Svolopoulos], Κ. Καραμανής: αρχείο, γεγονότα, 1995, p. 32. Παπαχελας [Papahelas], 202 (...)

29Moreover, the French president also agreed to help Greece to strengthen its defense, providing some Mirage airplanes for precautionary reasons. In any case, these acts must be primarily analyzed in the context of the bilateral relations between the two governments. That is, this support came only after the establishment of a democratic regime was made possible and did not have any direct impact on the stability of the dictatorial regime. Additionally, as recent investigations have illustrated, this agreement predates the fall of the Ioannidis regime, given that the dictatorial regime negotiated with the French the acquisition of military equipment before the Cyprus events29.

  • 30 Σβολοπουλος [Svolopoulos, 2008, pp. 217-247.
  • 31 Βουλγαρης [Voylgaris], 2012, pp. 289-209.
  • 32 Μπαλαμπανιδης [Balampanidis], 2015, pp. 98-104.

30While Konstantinos Karamanlis, from 1974 to 1980, tried and succeeded in improving the relations with the country’s northern communist neighbors, including a visit to Moscow in 1979 in the context of the Helsinki Espiritu, as well as the Greek Ostpolitik, and made it a clear choice to strengthen ties with the Arab world30, the EEC undeniably became the main target of Greece’s foreign policy. Unlike with Spain and Portugal, European political parties were less relevant in terms of financial or technical support. This limited influence of foreign parties, compared to the Portuguese and Spanish case, was a result of the difference in the length of the dictatorships and the existence of political parties of all tendencies in Greece, which is one of the main differences between Greece and the Iberian countries. Greek conservatives under Karamanlis saw the first stages of the Transition as an opportunity to reinvent the image of the conservative party31, and Karamanlis established personal and official relations with his European counterparts. The Greek left, that is, the two communist parties, entered the new democratic period strongly affected by the European reality of the division between orthodox communism and Eurocommunism32. Santiago Carrillo, for instance, was an important icon for the Greek left, and some Greek personalities who were active in the anti-dictatorial struggle were well known to the European public, such as Mikis Theodorakis and Melina Merkouri.

31The Greek socialist party is, perhaps, the most peculiar case, especially when compared to its Spanish and Portuguese counterparts. PASOK was founded in 1974 by Andreas Papandreou and, unlike PSOE and PS, they rejected any cooperation with the German SPD and the Labor party, and were openly anti-EEC and anti-NATO. Moreover, Papandreou rejected the possibility of joining the SI, and advocated for a closer relationship with the Non-Aligned Movement. In any case, this attitude gradually changed and, especially after the general elections in 1977 and its establishment as the main opposition, PASOK made a swift turn towards a closer relation with European socialism. But the main conclusion is that PASOK was not influenced by other European parties, or at least not in equal terms compared to PSOE or PS.

  • 33 Χατζηβασιλειου [Hatzivassiliou], 2007.

32Similarly to Spain and Portugal, the process of the democratic transition had its own peculiarities and, at the same time, it was affected by the international environment. However, the reorientation of the Greek foreign policy from the US protection towards creating closer ties with Europe, which was accelerated by the events in Cyprus, as well as a more independent policy with its northern allies and the Arab countries, started before the dictatorship33. The main result of the US stance towards the Cyprus crisis was that anti-American feelings were then widespread among the Greek society and its political parties. Thus, the reorientation of the Greek foreign policy was a result of both domestic and external factors. The latter were the détente in world politics and the search of a new role for Europe after the easing of the relations between the Western bloc and the USSR and its allies, and the gradual establishment of the EEC as an organization with a strong political importance. For those reasons, EEC membership was perceived as a way to secure both Greece’s position in the West and, at the same time, to limit the dependence from the US and NATO.

33As it was argued before, the events in Portugal did not have any direct influence in Greece. Nonetheless, the rapid collapse of the dictatorship, just a few months after the Carnation Revolution, could be the confirmation of the theory defending a domino effect in Southern Europe. Despite the fact that the capacity of the conservative party to control the situation attenuated Western preoccupations, there was still the case of the Spanish regime, in which the discussions regarding its political future had been started years before. In other words, the chronological difference between the three Transitions has a double effect on the comparative study of Greece to Spain and Portugal. The fact that the institutional transition was completed in Greece more rapidly compared to the Iberian cases, indicates that the former would not see the latter as a paradigm and, on the opposite, that the Greek case could be seen as a precedent for Spain and Portugal. In that sense, Spain is the most peculiar case, because Portugal and Greece were two different paradigms of political change. In the first case, leftist parties were dominant, and the institutions of the previous regime easily collapsed after half a century. In the second case, it was the conservatives that led the democratization, but taking more progressive measures, such as the abolishment of the royal institution, which Franco, in turn, would choose as the institution that would symbolize the continuity of his regime

The Spanish Transition and the smooth European influence

34Before April 25, 1974, Francoism seemed the most open of the Southern European regimes, and the project of a “Spanish-style democracy” was followed with sympathy in the West. When Juan Carlos succeeded Franco a year and a half later, the Spanish regime was, in the eyes of the world, the last redoubt of 1930s fascism, a bizarre dictatorship unacceptable in Europe and doomed to a rapid demise. Being the last Mediterranean country to begin democratization was no mere anecdote for Spain. The Transitions in Portugal and Greece had produced a kind of historical acceleration in Western Europe as a whole, which would affect the process of democracy-building in Spain in many different ways.

The multiple waves of the Portuguese tsunami and the clear-cut Greek lessons

  • 34 Sánchez Cervelló, 1995; Balios, 2019.

35The joyful spring of 1974 in Lisbon had a huge impact on Spain. The winds of freedom blowing from Portugal revitalized anti-Francoism, and a Democratic Junta spearheaded by Santiago Carrillo’s PCE was founded. Conversely, the “ultras” saw the collapse of the Estado Novo as a dangerous warning, and pressured PM Arias Navarro to stop the reforms. The collapse of the Greek regime further increased the hopes of the democrats and the uncertainties of the Francoists. The mainly liberal press reported profusely on Greece and Portugal in order to talk, in reality, about Spain. The only known democrat among the generals was said to be receiving monocles like the ones Spínola used, the liberal minister Manuel Fraga was nicknamed “Fragamanlis”, and the abolition of the monarchy in Greece aroused the most disparate interpretations depending on the attitude towards the future king Juan Carlos. While Portugal and Greece enjoyed their regained freedom, the reformist impulse in Spain faded, and the opposition seemed to gain the initiative. A “democratic rupture” was not a utopic scenario anymore34.

  • 35 Ortuño Anaya, 2005; Lemus, 2011.

36The Carnation Revolution also had a deep impact on the international context the coming post-Franco era would face. The “wait and see” stance towards the Spanish dictatorship was then overcome, and the European governments’ search for measures to prevent a chaotic scenario became urgent. Especially after March 1975, when Lisbon seemed to be heading towards a communist dictatorship, and the only US proposal towards the Iberian imbroglio was to let Portugal turn into a USSR’s satellite state and invite Franco’s Spain to join NATO. Same as in Portugal, European socialists concluded that a key factor for a peaceful transition in Spain would be the rising of a strong socialist party. Among different candidates, the PSOE seemed to have the biggest potential. Its new leader Felipe González presented himself to his European colleagues as a strongly pragmatical and anti-communist politician. The ruptura democrática defended by the Democratic Junta was, in his eyes, suicidal, for it would lead to a scenario similar to Chile’s. González trusted Juan Carlos to dismantle the regime and call for free elections, where the PSOE would try to reproduce the success of the PS in Portugal and reduce the PCE to a marginal role. With the support of European socialism, the PSOE launched a Democratic Platform, formally in friendly relations, but actually in open competition, with the Democratic Junta. In the same fashion as they did with Soares, European socialists promoted González’s international profile, thus boosting the popularity of a politician hitherto anonymous in Spain35.

37During the summer of 1975, Arias Navarro launched an offensive against democrats and “terrorists”. Fully confident that the “silent majority” supported the regime, and willing to show the West that Spain would not renounce to its own model of democracy, the government intended to eradicate the alternative represented by the opposition. The Revolution in Portugal, where the spring of freedom had given way to a stark political confrontation, then functioned as a way for the Spanish government to show the public opinion, mainly via TV, the risk of political radicalism. To demonstrate strength and determination, shy the opposition and make clear to the world that it would not tolerate any interference, the regime brought presumed terrorists to a military Court. Five of them received death penalties.

  • 36 Moreno Juste, 2015.

38The executions at the end of September sparked a huge international outcry that surprised the regime. In Lisbon, the Spanish embassy was vandalized, and furniture and art pieces were set on fire. European countries (except Ireland) retrieved their ambassadors, and the EEC suspended relations with Madrid. The wave of protests, in turn, provoked a virulent patriotic reaction in Spain stirred up by Arias’ government, which felt, thus, reinforced. The consequences of this crisis on the external relations of the regime were, however, disastrous. Decades of efforts to gain respectability were thrown away at the exact moment the life of its founder was running out and the delicate period of succession was to be opened. The executions also exacerbated abroad the old cliché of Spain as a violent nation, historically unable to live at peace with itself. The impression that, after Franco, the country could descend into chaos, was then widespread36.

Europe and the failure of the democracy “a la española”

39Franco’s successor was aware that his survival as king depended on bringing democracy to Spain in the short term and opening the doors of the EEC. The decision to renew Arias as PM, however, showed Juan Carlos’ weak position vis-à-vis the bunker, and his lack of a proper strategy. The West had a mixed view of this tepid start to the Transition. Visiting Madrid to sign the friendship treaty replacing the old military agreement of 1953, Kissinger recommended Arias to move slowly towards democracy and keep the PCE illegal. Europe’s position was quite different. On the one hand, goodwill was shown with the return of the ambassadors to Madrid, the presence of the French and German presidents at the coronation of Juan Carlos and the resumption of relations with the EEC. On the other hand, at the same time, coldness towards Madrid from the socialists who governed in six of the nine EEC countries was maintained as a subtle form of pressure. If the Spanish government really wanted to normalize relations with Europe, it was up to Arias Navarro to move unequivocally towards democracy.

  • 37 Powell, 1995.

40The slow pace of reform and the extreme violence of the police towards the growing labor protests, which ended with five workers murdered in Vitoria, in March 1976, definitively buried European socialism’s tolerance of Arias Navarro’s government, and the leaders of the IS then publicly criticized him. In May, Maurice Faupé, in charge of reporting to the European Parliament in regards to Spain, presented a report that highlighted the lack of progress in democratization and also pointed to the legalization of the communists as a sine qua non condition for the country’s inclusion into the EEC. As the main interlocutor of most EEC governments, González began to appear very often in the Spanish press, which presented him as a politician whose opinion was respected by those who had to decide on the country’s intention to enter the EEC. The illegal PSOE, one newspaper stated, had become the “customs officer of Europe” for Spain37.

  • 38 Powell, 2011.

41Meanwhile, neither the EEC heads of state or the governments visited Madrid, nor did they invite the PM or the king. For a monarch in desperate need of international recognition, the ostracism Europe subjected him to was unbearable in the long run. Seeking a way out of this situation, Juan Carlos got Washington to arrange an official visit to the United States in June 1976. In his speech on Capitol Hill, the king publicly announced for the first time his determination to establish democracy in Spain. The visit was a big public relations success, and Juan Carlos returned to Madrid politically strengthened and ready to oust a PM whose adherence to the project of a “Spanish-style” democracy put the monarchy at risk38.

The dismantling of the regime and the elections in June 1977

  • 39 Muñoz Sánchez, 2012.

42The new PM Adolfo Suárez received instructions from the king to dismantle the regime, legalize all political parties and celebrate free elections within a year. The aim then was the implementation of a Western democracy that would eventually provide legitimacy for the monarchy and enable Spain to enter the EEC. To gain the sympathy of the powerful European socialism, Suárez was also instructed to promote the PSOE as a moderate alternative to the PCE. One key element was to boost the popularity of Felipe González by making him appear on TV. Moreover, the government authorized the celebration of the party’s congress in Madrid. The attendance of the main figures of the SI turned the congress into a historical event, and massively invigorated the popularity of the PSOE in a country fascinated by European modernity and welfare. Meanwhile, Carrillo was still living clandestinely in the Spanish capital after coming back from exile39.

  • 40 Urigüen López de Sandaliano, 2018.

43In contrast to the socialists, the European Christian Democrats did not manage to exercise any influence on the formation of the Spanish party system after Franco. Their partner in Spain brought together very heterogeneous personalities and opposition groups to the dictatorship, who only coincided in their refusal to collaborate with the reformists who ended up taking the reins of the Transition. In early 1977, the European conservatives decided to then cooperate with the UCD, a party created by the government itself, aimed to achieve a large majority in the first democratic elections and, thus, enable Adolfo Suárez to continue having absolute control of the transition process40.

  • 41 Ortuño, Anaya, 2005; Muñoz Sánchez, 2012.

44This projection would not be finally confirmed, mostly because of PSOE’s unexpected performance in the June 1977 elections. With the massive financial and logistic support from the European socialists, the PSOE organized “the most modern and European-like campaign”, centered around the popular Felipe and aimed to address an electorate that, as González told his European colleagues, was much more conservative than in their countries. By exceeding the most optimistic forecasts, PSOE reached almost thirty percent of the votes, only five points behind the UCD. The objective to become the dominant leftist party was, by far, fulfilled. Additionally, thanks to its strong position in Parliament, the PSOE was able to force the opening of a constituent process, something that was not in the plans of Suárez’s government. Thus, the unexpected electoral success of the PSOE provided a critical boost to the democratization in Spain41.

Europe, the common goal for the new democracies

45Very different in origin and development, the Transitions in Southern Europe reached the same point of arrival: a parliamentary system encouraged by a strong desire to be assimilated into the European model of advanced social democracy through EEC membership. The deep Europeanism that inspired the new democracies was partly rooted in history, but it was mainly very current reasons what made EEC membership a touchstone for the three countries’ external action. The aim was to consolidate democracies and, at the same time, to glorify the governments that would lead to what they, themselves, presented as a new “manifest destiny” for the nation. The urgency to reach a “Europe” which was unprepared to receive them, would lead Greece, Portugal and Spain to compete with each other.

Europeanism by tradition or by electroshock: ways to participate in the EEC race

  • 42 Cavallaro, 2009.
  • 43 Castilho, 2000.

46The process of Europeanisation that Spain and Portugal underwent since 1960 had a different impact on the political cultures of the two countries. In Spain, modernization revived a deeply rooted Europeanism that rapidly undermined Francoism’s national-catholicism and offered a horizon of convergence and reconciliation for the “two Spains”42. In Portugal, the omnipresence of the Empire as the axis of national identity and the obsession with its defense through the colonial war meant that Europe was not seen as a realistic or desirable horizon for the country’s living forces43. In the case of Greece, despite the EEC’s clear stance against the colonels’ regime, the democrats did not make Europeanism the banner of their common battle for the recovery of liberties.

47As we have already seen, realpolitik led Western Europe to offer massive support to moderate forces in Portugal and Greece after the collapse of the dictatorships. A deeply unequal relationship of crucial importance for their new democracies was born. In Greece, PM Karamanlis took great personal advantage of this support and made deepening relations with Europe the leitmotif of his foreign policy against a Eurosceptic socialist opposition. At the same time, the moderate forces in Portugal clung to Europe’s massive support in an attempt to break the radicals and the communists. It was during this fierce struggle for the soul of Portugal that the moderate parties engraved a deep Europeanism into their DNA. Mário Soares boldly played this card, presenting the “European option”, in the first parliamentary elections of 1976, as the nation’s new vital horizon after the loss of the Empire, and the PS as the force that would make it possible. As for Spain, the connection between democracy and entering the Community was so intimate for the country that Juan Carlos’ first government did not hesitate to directly ask the Nine which would be the minimum standard freedoms Spain should attain before applying for EEC membership.

48Greece, Portugal and Spain’s decision to apply for EEC membership was hardly motivated by what was considered a long-term strategy aimed at establishing democracy, promoting economic development, building the welfare state and anchoring the country in a new international alliance. Behind the request, there was also a short-term political calculation made by the ruling party to consolidate its power in the still unstable political system that emerged in the transition to democracy. The prospect of a quick accession was crucial for Karamanlis, Soares and Suárez. The three hoped that the negotiations would take no more than four years, so that at the next elections they could reap the rewards of the success of joining the continent’s exclusive club of prosperous nations.

  • 44 De Castro, 2010.

49Greece, Portugal and Spain, therefore, saw themselves not as fellow travelers on the path to the EEC, but as competitors in a race in which no one wanted to be left behind. After Athens submitted its application in June 1975, the I Constitutional Government in Lisbon felt the urgency to do so as soon as possible in order to get ahead of Madrid, whose application was delayed by the complexity of dismantling the regime. Circumstances were forcing Portugal to urgently apply the newly-launched “European option”: “[Without] Greece defining itself in favor of accession, and the political acceleration in Spain pushing [in the same direction], we would certainly have thought differently about the possible accession. But outside [the EEC], what is there?” Lisbon presented its candidacy in March 1977, four months ahead of Madrid, which did so as soon as the first elected government was formed44.

50The entry into the Council of Europe was the first step on the road connecting the new democracies to the EEC. An act of great political symbolism, given the prestige of the Council of Europe as a keeper of human rights in the continent. Greece and Portugal were admitted after enacting their constitutions in September 1975 and September 1976. The case of Spain was somewhat more complicated. After the first elections, Spain applied for membership even though the country did not yet have a constitution. This was opposed by some socialist governments, which were much less enthusiastic than other SI members about a democratic transition that had left much of Franco’s institutional edifice in place. Only after Felipe González’s urging did all socialists accept Spain’s entry into the Council of Europe, in November 1977, on the country’s “word of honor” that it would soon have a democratic constitution.

  • 45 Archivo del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Madrid, R-12.557, Raimundo Bassols, 3 February 1977.

51Once Madrid and Lisbon had submitted their applications for EEC membership, Athens feared that Brussels might be tempted to link the three candidatures, and Greece tried and succeeded to go ahead independently with the negotiations. Portugal, in turn, tried to dissociate itself from Spain, whose negotiation process was expected to take a long time due to the weight of its economy and the reluctance of countries such as France. For its part, Spain still hoped that the EEC would apply a vue d’ensemble, meaning a global negotiation with the three candidate countries, which would not only speed up Spain’s entry into the Community but would also benefit it in the negotiations, since “any demanding concession they ask of us, they will have to ask of the other two countries”45.

Dealing with a Community in “eurosclerosis”

  • 46 Ludlow, 2016.

52The velvet-gloved battle between Greece, Portugal and Spain to win a place under the sun in Europe was a marked feature of the Mediterranean enlargement, which had not been the case in the first enlargement, in 1973. The cause was the lack of clear rules and the disorientation of the club that was to host them. After the collapse of the dictatorships in Greece and Portugal in 1974, it was only a matter of time before the two countries, and later Spain, applied for EEC membership. However, when Madrid applied in July 1977, Brussels had no strategy for dealing with the new enlargement, and a debate had not even been launched. The enormous impact of the oil crisis on the process of European construction was the underlying reason. The abrupt end of the golden age of post-war capitalism triggered fears of a new Great Depression. The Nine then resorted to protectionist measures to safeguard their economies, disengaging from European cooperation and leaving the EEC in a paralysis state46.

  • 47 Balios, 2019, pp. 271-284; Karamouzi, 2014, p. 93.

53In view of the eurosclerosis and skepticism towards enlargement, Athens, Lisbon and Madrid realized that only the political will of the major European countries could break the impasse and open the doors of the EEC to them in a short period of time. Greece was the first to understand this and to act accordingly. Karamanlis ignored Brussels’ institutions and sought the public backing from Schmidt, Giscard d’Estaing, Callaghan and other heads of government on Greece’s entry into the EEC. The Greek PM demanded that Brussels treat Athens differently from Lisbon and Madrid because it had already had an association treaty since 1961, he insisted that his country was not an economic problem for the Nine, and he presented rapid entry into Europe as the only way to stabilize his country and prevent the rise of a socialist opposition hostile to NATO and EEC47. Karamanlis succeeded. He got the option of pre-accession status removed, prevented the globalization of southern enlargement and imposed express negotiations. In May 1979, when Portugal and Spain were just starting their negotiations, Greece signed the accession treaty that would make it the tenth member of the EEC on January 1, 1981.

54Portugal tried to repeat Greece’s success, that is, to dissociate itself from the Spanish candidacy and negotiate a quick entry into the EEC. Like Greece, Portugal was a small country, and was to be easily assimilated into the European economy. Also, political instability after the Revolution was very high, and, like in Greece, rapid accession to the EEC would serve to weaken radical forces. Unlike in Spain, there was no pro-European consensus in Portugal, and disappointing the hopes that the moderate political class had raised among the population with the “European option” would be grist to the communists’ mill. But Lisbon’s desire to move towards the EEC free of Spain’s unwanted company was not to be realized. For the Nine, the Iberian candidacies were interconnected, and negotiations had to run in parallel.

  • 48 Cunha, 2015.

55The “Spanish problem” was Portugal’s main stumbling block on its path towards the EEC. First of all, Lisbon saw Spain as unnecessarily delaying its accession, although, in reality, Portugal’s negotiations with Brussels were, per se, quite complex, especially given the country’s extreme underdevelopment and the oversized nationalized sector. In order to tackle this problem, the EEC exceptionally provided Portugal financial pre-adhesion aid. Secondly, Portugal perceived Spain as an enormous danger to its economy when the borders between them as members of the EEC were to disappear, given the power of the Spanish economy and its capacity to penetrate into Portugal. These considerations, which mixed real fears with nationalist prejudices, led successive governments in Lisbon to try to completely isolate their negotiations with Brussels from those with Spain, to permanently insist on the need for a separate entry of the two countries into the EEC and to defend, with extraordinary zeal, what they believed to be the best way to protect the weak Portuguese economy from the supposed threats of the imminent Iberian market48.

56The common goal of joining the EEC not only failed to bring the new Iberian democracies closer together, but also was the main reason why Spain and Portugal maintained, until 1986, the bizarre disconnection both neighboring countries had been painstakingly weaving over centuries. For the Greek part, since the country was then able to walk alone towards the EEC, its relations with Portugal and Spain became more solid. In any case, Athens was particularly concerned that Iberian enlargement could damage its interests, especially in regards to the protection of its agricultural exports to the Nine. PM Andreas Papandreou even threatened to veto the signing of the accession agreements with Portugal and Spain, in March 1985, unless assurances were given that the EEC would maintain funding for Greece. Felipe González expressed his deepest concern about this attitude to Papandreou and, despite Greece finally agreeing on the enlargement, it was clear that each country was primary interested on their own national interests.


57The fall of the dictatorships and the democratization that followed in Southern Europe in 1974, were generally unexpected events, despite the fact that foreign observers considered political change was probable in the three countries. In any case, even though the fear of a “domino effect” was widespread after the events in Portugal, especially regarding the impact it may have on Spain, the reasons that triggered the democratization in each case must been seen independently. In other words, while the international context was the same, the internal political balances and social reality were the primary reasons for the fall of the dictatorial regimes. This, of course, does not mean that the external influences were irrelevant.

58The most important foreign actors, most notably the USA, the EEC and its member states, did not elaborate a clear and coherent policy towards the three Southern European countries as a whole. For instance, the US and, especially, the Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, had a totally different approach regarding the proper political stance on this matter, and the degree of the external influence of the German political system on the Iberian countries was quite different. Furthermore, there is not enough evidence about what implications the fall of the Greek dictatorship had on Western strategies regarding the Iberian Peninsula. Greece was the only country with no direct fear for a radical shift, given the ability of the conservative leader Konstantinos Karamanlis to guarantee a relatively smooth and quick transition, with the main concern being the prevention of a war with Turkey. All despite the uncertainty that existed, both in Greece and Western capitals, during the first critical months of the Transition.

59Neither did the EEC have a coherent policy towards the democratization of Southern Europe, and, despite the three countries being part of the so-called “Mediterranean enlargement” of the community, the member states were not prepared for a drastic political change in the region. That does not mean that European governments did not want democratization, but, nonetheless, they were extremely concerned about the political, financial and institutional implications of a new enlargement. The political conditionality, on the other hand, was considered a powerful tool to keep the three countries on the path towards democratization, even though it reposed on the political willingness of each government to implement democratic institutions. That is, while the EEC membership was central for the consolidation of the democratic regimes and the change of their international status, considering that the fundamental reason for the success of the democratization was establishing negotiations with the EEC is a simplicity that does not encompass other factors, both of external and internal dimensions.

60Moreover, an interaction between the three cases did exist, but it was not determinant for the political developments in Southern Europe after 1974. For instance, the Revolution in Portugal did have a significant impact on the Spanish regime and the opposition’s expectations, but the regime itself was proven stable, and the reformist process of the regime-change only started after Franco’s death in November 1975. Additionally, the events in Greece were a manifestation that rapid political change and radicalism were not necessarily connected and, thus, a different development in Spain compared to Portugal was possible. On the other hand, some peculiar details of each Transition may have had an influential impact on different actors, such as the abolition of the Greek royal institution on Juan Carlos.

61Last, but not least, in order to analyze the impact of the international and transnational dimensions of the transitions, various factors must be taken into consideration, both independently and in parallel. For instance, the transnational impact, or impacts, were closely related to the international context, and the distinct internal political situation was crucial for the interpretation of occurring events elsewhere. Thus, the internal political reality and balance of power were of fundamental importance for any political change. At the same time, political actors had to also consider the international context, in order to develop a successful strategy.

Haut de page


Balios, Sethelos Isidoros (2023), Las vidas paralelas de Grecia y España (1974-1985). De las dictaduras a la Europa Comunitaria, Granada, Comares.

Birle, Peter, Antonio Muñoz Sánchez (2020), Partnerschaft für die Demokratie. Die Arbeit der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Brasilien und Portugal, Bonn, Dietz.

Castaño, David (2013), Mário Soares e a Revolução, Alfragide, Dom Quijote.

Castaño, David (2018), “Socialism, democracy and Europe: Transition and European integration: the Portuguese case”, Relações Internacionais, Special Issue, pp. 9-23.

Castilho, José Manuel Tavares (2000), A Ideia da Europa no Marcelismo (1968-1974), Lisboa, Assembleia da República.

Castro, Francisco (2002), “A CEE e o PREC”, Penélope. Revista de história e ciências sociais, 26, pp. 123-157.

Cavallaro, Maria Elena (2009), Los orígenes de la integración de España en Europa. Desde el franquismo hasta los años de la transición, Madrid, Sílex.

Cavallaro, María Elena, Kostis Kornetis [eds] (2019), Rethinking Democratisation in Spain, Greece and Portugal, Cham, Palgrave.

Costa Pinto, António, Nuno Severiano Teixeira [eds] (2002), Southern Europe and the making of the European Union, 1945-1980s, New York, Columbia University Press.

Cunha, Alice (2015), “Portugal, Espanha e Europa entre o paralelismo das negociações de adesão e a capitalização do terceiro alargamento da Comunidade Económica Europeia”, Relações Internacionais, 48, pp. 25-41.

De Castro, Francisco Niny (2010), O Pedido de Adesão de Portugal às Comunidades Europeias. Aspectos Político-Diplomáticos, Cascais, Princípia.

Fernández Soriano, Víctor (2020), “¿Asociación y democracia? Las dictaduras meridionales en el proceso de integración europea en los años sesenta”, Ayer, 117, pp. 47-73.

Fonseca, Ana Mónica (2009), “The Federal Republic of Germany and the Portuguese Transition to Democracy (1974-1976)”, Journal of European Integration History, 15 (1), pp. 35-56.

Fonseca, Ana Mónica, Daniel Marcos (2008), “French and German support to Portugal: the military survival of the Estado Novo”, Portuguese Studies Review, 16 (2), pp. 103-119.

Gomes, Bernardino, Tiago Moreira de Sá (2008), Carlucci vs Kissinger - Os EUA e a Revolução Portuguesa, Alfragide, Dom Quijote.

Guirao, Fernando (2020), The European Rescue of the Franco Regime, 1950-1975, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Karamouzi, Eirini (2014), Greece, the EEC and the Cold War, 1974-1978. The Second Enlargement, Bakingstoke, Palgrave.

Leitão, Nicolau Andresen (2007), Estado Novo, democracia e Europa, 1947-1986, Lisboa, ICS.

Lemus, Encarnación (2011), Estados Unidos y la Transición española. Entre la Revolución de los Claveles y la Marcha Verde, Madrid, Sílex.

Lopes, Rui (2014), West Germany and the Portuguese Dictatorship, 1968-1974. Between Cold War and Colonialism, Basingstoke, Palgrave.

Ludlow, N. Piers (2016), Roy Jenkins and the European Commission Presidency, 1976 -1980: At the Heart of Europe, London, Springer.

Mac Queen, Norrie, Pedro Aires Oliveira (2010), “Grocer meets Butcher’: Marcello Caetano’s London visit of 1973 and the last days of Portugal’s Estado Novo”, Cold War History, 10 (1), pp. 29-50.

Moreno Juste, Antonio (2015), “The EEC and the End of the Franco Regime: the September 1975 Crisis”, Cahiers de la Mediterránée, 90, pp. 25-46.

Muñoz Sánchez, Antonio (2005), “La socialdemocracia alemana y el Estado Novo (1961-1974)”, Portuguese Studies Review, 13 (1-2), pp. 477-504.

Muñoz Sánchez, Antonio (2012), El amigo alemán. El SPD y el PSOE de la dictadura a la democracia, Barcelona, RBA.

O’Donnell, Guillermo, Philippe C. Schmitter, Lawrence Whitehead (1986), Transitions from Authoritarian Rule. Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies, Johns Hopkins University Press, vol. IV.

Oliveira, Pedro Aires (2017), “A Sense of Hopelessness? Portuguese Oppositionists Abroad in the Final Years of the Estado Novo, 1968-1974”, Contemporary European History, 26 (3), pp. 465-486.

Ortuño Anaya, Pilar (2005), Los socialistas europeos y la transición española (1959-1977), Madrid, Marcial Pons.

Powell, Charles (1995), “La dimensión exterior de la transición española”, Afers Internacionals, 26, pp. 37-64.

Powell, Charles (2011), El amigo americano. España y Estados Unidos: de la dictadura a la democracia, Barcelona, Galaxia Gutenberg.

Sablosky, Juliet Antunes (2000), O PS e a transição para a democracia. Relações com os partidos socialistas europeus, Lisboa, Notícias.

Sala, Roberto (2011), Fremde Worte. Medien für Gastarbeiter in der Bundesrepublik im Spannungsfeld von Außen- und Sozialpolitik, Paderborn, Ferdinand Schöningh.

Sánchez Cervelló, Josep (1995), La revolución portuguesa y su influencia en la transición española (1961-1976), San Sebastian, Nerea.

Sanz Díaz, Carlos (2006), “Las movilizaciones de los emigrantes españoles en Alemania bajo el franquismo. Protesta política y reivindicación sociolaboral”, Migraciones y Exilios, 7, pp. 51-80.

Stenger, Matthias (2011), Transnationale Parteienzusammenarbeit. Die Beziehungen der deutschen und portugiesischen Christlichen Demokraten von der Nelkenrevolution bis zum Vertrag von Maastricht (1974-1992), Düsseldorf, Droste.

Urigüen López de Sandaliano, Natalia (2018), A imagen y semejanza. La democracia cristiana alemana y su aportación a la transición española, Madrid, CSIC.

Viñas, Ángel (2003), En las garras del águila. Los pactos con Estados Unidos, de Franco a Felipe González (1945-1995), Barcelona, Crítica.

Βούλγαρησ, Γιάννης (2012), Η Ελλάδα από την Μεταπολίτευση στην Παγκοσμιοποίηση, Αθήνα, Πόλις. [Voylgaris, Yannis (2012), Greece from Metapolitefsi to Globalization, Athens, Polis]

Λαλιουτη, Ζηνοβία (2016), Ο αντιαμερικανισμός στην Ελλάδα, 1947-1989, Αθήνα, Ασίνη. [Lalioyti, Zinovia (2016), Antiamericanism in Greece, 1947-1989, Athens, Asini]

Μπαλαμπανιδης, Γιάννης (2015), Ευρωκομμουνισμός. Από την κομμουνιστική στη ριζοσπαστική ευρωπαϊκή Αριστερά, Αθήνα, Πόλις, pp. 189-210. [Yannis, Balampanidis (2015), Eurocommunism: From Communist to Radical Left in Europe, Polis, Athens 2015]

Παπαχελας, Αλέξης (2021), Ένα σκοτεινό δωμάτιο, Αθήνα, Μεταίχμιο. [Papahelas, Alexis (2021), A dark room, Athens, Metehmio]

Ριζας, Σωτήρης (2013), “Η υποψηφιότητα της Ελλάδας για ένταξη και η διεύρυνση της Ευρωπαϊκής Κοινότητας προς τη Νότιο Ευρώπη”, Νεοελληνικά Ιστορικά, 3 pp. 189-210. [Rizas, Sotiris (2013), “The candidacy of Greece to join and the integration of the EEC towards Southern Europe”, Neoellinika Istorika, 3].

Σβολοπουλοσ, Κωνσταντίνος (1995), Κωνσταντίνος Καραμανλής: Αρχείο, Γεγονότα και Κείμενα, Αθήνα, Εκδοτική Αθηνών [Svolopoulos, Konstantinos (1995), Archives, Events and Texts, Athens, Ekdotiki Athinon].

Σβολοπουλοσ, Κωνσταντίνος (2008), Η ελληνική εξωτερική πολιτική, Αθήνα, Εστία [Svolopoulos, Konstantinos (2008), Greek foreign policy, Athens, Estia].

Χατζηβασιλειου, Ευάνθης (2007), Στα σύνορα των δύο κόσμων. Η Ελλάδα και ο Ψυχρός Πόλεμος, 1952-1967, Αθήνα, Πατάκης [Hatzivassiliou, Evanthis (2007), Greece and the Cold War: Frontline State, 1952-1967, Athens, Patakis].

Haut de page


1 Cavallaro, Kornetis, 2019.

2 O’Donnell, Schmitter, Whitehead, 1986, p. 19.

3 Telo, 1996.

4 Viñas, 2003.

5 Fonseca, Marcos, 2008.

6 Leitao, 2007; Guirao, 2021.

7 Del Pero et al., 2009.

8 Fernández Soriano, 2020.

9 Lopes, 2014, pp. 108-114.

10 Sala, 2011; Sanz, 2006; Oliveira, 2017.

11 Muñoz Sánchez, 2005, pp. 496-497.

12 Mac Queen, Oliveira, 2010.

13 Míguez González, 1990, p. 120.

14 Castaño, 2018, p. 11.

15 Muñoz Sánchez, 2005, pp. 499-500.

16 Gomes, Moreira de Sá, 2008.

17 Del Pero et al., 2010.

18 Costa Pinto, Nuno Teixeira, 2002.

19 Fonseca, 2009.

20 Castaño, 2013.

21 Sablosky, 2000.

22 Del Pero et al., 2010; Castaño, 2013.

23 Stenger, 2011.

24 Birle, Muñoz Sánchez, 2020; Castro, 2002.

25 Gomes, Moreira de Sá, 2008.

26 Del Pero, 2010.

27 Λαλιουτη [Lalioyti], 2016, pp. 449-450.

28 Ριζας [Rizas], 2013, pp. 191-193.

29 Σβολοπουλος [Svolopoulos], Κ. Καραμανής: αρχείο, γεγονότα, 1995, p. 32. Παπαχελας [Papahelas], 2021, pp. 221-242.

30 Σβολοπουλος [Svolopoulos, 2008, pp. 217-247.

31 Βουλγαρης [Voylgaris], 2012, pp. 289-209.

32 Μπαλαμπανιδης [Balampanidis], 2015, pp. 98-104.

33 Χατζηβασιλειου [Hatzivassiliou], 2007.

34 Sánchez Cervelló, 1995; Balios, 2019.

35 Ortuño Anaya, 2005; Lemus, 2011.

36 Moreno Juste, 2015.

37 Powell, 1995.

38 Powell, 2011.

39 Muñoz Sánchez, 2012.

40 Urigüen López de Sandaliano, 2018.

41 Ortuño, Anaya, 2005; Muñoz Sánchez, 2012.

42 Cavallaro, 2009.

43 Castilho, 2000.

44 De Castro, 2010.

45 Archivo del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Madrid, R-12.557, Raimundo Bassols, 3 February 1977.

46 Ludlow, 2016.

47 Balios, 2019, pp. 271-284; Karamouzi, 2014, p. 93.

48 Cunha, 2015.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Sethelos Isidoros Balios et Antonio Muñoz Sánchez, « Transnational and International Dimensions of the Transitions »Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez [En ligne], 53-1 | 2023, mis en ligne le 14 avril 2023, consulté le 06 juin 2023. URL : ; DOI :

Haut de page


Sethelos Isidoros Balios

Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Antonio Muñoz Sánchez

Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur


Creative Commons - Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International - CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Haut de page
  • Logo Casa de Velázquez
  • DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
  • OpenEdition Journals
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search