852.00/4–147: Telegram

The Chargé in Spain ( Bonsal ) to the Secretary of State


276. Franco’s broadcast and the project of law of succession1 follow expected lines and in my judgment contain no real concession whatever in sense of liberalizing regime here. Full texts being airmailed soonest. It is assumed there has been ample press coverage.

Proposed law must now be discussed by Cortes, meeting date of which unannounced. Passage of law presumably certain. It will make no practical change in present situation except to constitute new Council of Realm (a body of twelve government appointees directly or indirectly) and to give Franco right if he sees fit to designate a successor or rather to submit such designation to approval as provided in law.2 Machinery provided in project mainly designed for event Franco’s incapacity or death and as such regardless its merits it fills long felt constitutional lacuna. There is no evidence any intent on Franco’s part voluntarily to give machinery opportunity to function.

Project states Spain is kingdom to be ruled either by a person of royal blood (male over 30) or by a regent who would be selected similarly by machinery provided. Reliable information is that project has been conveyed to Pretender in Lisbon by official emissary of Franco but evidence so far at hand is strongly against thought that it represents any agreement with Pretender; in fact it may be anticipated anti-Franco Monarchists will strongly oppose project.

Proposed law is logical development of ideas consistently expressed by Franco, especially in speeches of July 1945 and May 1946 (opening of Cortes) and involved no change in basic principles of so-called national movement and much less any tendency to submit those basic principles to any sort of public discussion. Franco’s concept is of Catholic kingdom of corporative nature devoted to social and material advances through a mechanism of so-called organic democracy in which the individual finds expression not as member of political party but as member of family, vertical syndicate, municipality or provincial organization.

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More detailed comments and reactions will be sent as available.

Sent Department 276; repeated Paris 58; London 33; Lisbon 17.

  1. Gen. Franco, In his broadcast of March 31, 1947, announced that Spain was to become a monarchy with a regency council and himself as the head of state. In case of the death or the incapacity of the chief of state the regency council would propose a king or regent who must be accepted by a two-thirds majority of the Cortes. This “Law of Succession” was approved by a referendum vote on July 6, 1947.
  2. In reply to a question at a press conference on April 4, Acting Secretary of State Dean Acheson stated that the establishment of a Regency Council in Spain “does not change our attitude with regard to Spain at all”. (852.00/4–447)