200. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford1


  • General Franco’s Health and the Spanish Succession

This memorandum provides a brief review of General Franco’s present health and the prospects for post-Franco succession.

At the time of General Franco’s hospitalization with phlebitis in July, he turned over the powers of Chief of State on an interim basis to [Typeset Page 640] his designated successor, Prince Juan Carlos. Juan Carlos continues to hold those powers.

[less than 1 line not declassified] General Franco has far greater health problems than those posed by his recent bout with phlebitis. Franco, now 81, has progressive generalized arteriosclerosis affecting both the brain and heart. He has suffered recurrent blackouts for more than a decade and, in recent years, the frequency of his “bad days” has increased. There have been reports of attacks during which he is out of touch, many of which probably represent the temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain—although he may have suffered some small strokes. Don Juan, father of Prince Juan Carlos, recently cited reports—including one from Franco’s nephew—that the General is not expected to live beyond Christmas.

The Succession

Franco’s death will be followed by Juan Carlos’ elevation to the throne, apparently without serious challenge by rival claimants. Don Juan, long a pretender to the throne, told U.S. Embassy officials in Lisbon this week that he would not oppose his son’s succession, although continued support would be contingent upon Spain becoming a genuine democracy in the post-Franco period. It had been feared that Don Juan, who holds the loyalty of many monarchists and has wide support in financial circles, would contest the succession. As soon as Juan Carlos succeeds Franco, Don Juan plans to announce a program for democratic reforms as a guide for his son.

Thus, it is currently expected that Juan Carlos will succeed Franco with the General’s personal endorsement, recognition by present constitutional laws, the reasonable loyalty of the hierarchy of the “movement,” the support of the armed forces, and without serious challenge to the throne.

  1. Summary: Kissinger discussed Franco’s health and the Spanish succession.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 12, Spain (1). Secret. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. An earlier and more extensive version of this paper, in the form of a July 19 memorandum from Clift to Kissinger, is in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 706, Country Files, Europe, Spain, Vol. IV, January 1972–(June 1974) (1 of 2).