307. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Franco Issues Succession Decree

Last week Spain issued a decree-law which regulates the succession to power by specifying that Franco’s Vice-Premier will automatically become the first post-Franco Premier.

The law:

—provides that upon Franco’s death, the Vice-Premier, currently the ultra-conservative Carrero-Blanco, immediately succeeds for a normal, five year, term;

—reiterates Franco’s titles and prerogatives, thus apparently reconfirming his intention not to share them with anyone;

—repeats a 1969 law that Prince Juan Carlos is to be proclaimed King within eight days after Franco’s death.

The main consequences of the law are:

—to signal Franco’s intention to project his system beyond his death by designating his closest collaborator, Carrero-Blanco, as Premier;

—to strengthen Juan Carlos’ position as future King against the Regency Council or eventual rivals;

—to, on the other hand, reduce Juan Carlos’ actual political power by making a decision now on the Premiership.

From the viewpoint of the current balance of political forces in Spain, the decree constitutes a rebuff to technocrats such as Development Minister Lopez Rodo and Foreign Minister Lopez Bravo. They had sought to have a Premier named now, before Franco’s demise so as to strengthen government efficiency. Their cautious campaign for political evolution in Spain also seems blocked by Franco’s retention of full authority during his life-time and by his designation of an ultra-conservative to take over after his death.

Franco has once again elected to do things his way, acting without the counsel of most of his advisors and to the immediate satisfaction of few.

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Once Franco is gone, however, Juan Carlos may as a result of the decree be in a better position to act. Although he cannot under this law choose the first post-Franco premier, he can, acting with the Regency Council, dismiss him.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 706, Country Files—Europe, Spain, Vol. IV. Confidential. Sent for information. Haig signed the memorandum for Kissinger. A stamped notation on the memorandum reads: “The President has seen.”