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


417. On balance it is my belief that surface developments from announcement March 31 of Franco’s succession bill have favored regime and that Franco has shown skillful understanding of local political situation.

Government propaganda during April was concentrated upon following:

Revival of memories of civil war horrors. Bloody shirt was waved enthusiastically and effectively.
Pretenders alleged trafficking with elements identified with Reds who lost civil war and whose return to political power would allegedly result in return to civil war conditions.
Raking up of unfavorable aspects of Bourbon history over past centuries.
An obscure and reportedly discredited Grandee Marques de Villa-magna has signed articles in Falangist organ purporting to prove that rightful claimant to throne is not Don Juan but infant son of his elder brother Jaime (Jaime is ineligible personally because he is approximately deaf and dumb and he renounced his rights on contracting morganatic marriage).
Theme that whole world now recognizes Franco was right about Soviets is being worked very hard.
Principles of national movement with emphasis on Christian social justice have been stressed.

As a result certain conservative elements have shuddered closer than ever to Franco. Traditionalist Monarchists and others have been displeased at liberal tone of Don Juan’s manifestoes published here. And Communists whose disinterest in any sort of moderate or immediately practical solution should be self evident by this time have viewed with alarm negotiations between Monarchists and democratic alliance. All this has strengthened Franco temporarily by stressing divisions of opposition. He can probably confirm his advantage by admitting certain amendments to succession law project allegedly reflecting consideration varying opinions. Thus appearance of certain amount of give and take will have been given.

Above factors, however, are in my judgment of short term importance. Regime continues slow deterioration previously described and evidenced among other things by great difficulty of securing outstanding men to serve it. Long delay Cabinet changes probably attributable this factor.

Furthermore, there is some inflammable political material lying about. Labor difficulties or sensational political crime may set it on fire [Page 1077] and thus jolt key elements, especially in army, to practical recognition of necessity for change. This is, however, still only remote possibility and regime looks stable over next few months.

Over long term I believe Monarchists prospects have been improved by refusal of Don Juan and those around him to make deal on Franco’s terms. At least monarchy is still in running against time when system conforming to political thought of modern western Europe is established in Spain.