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Abstract

The Spanish transition from an authoritarian regime, to a democratic political system in the 1970s has been widely researched. The dominant approach in research thus far has centered in the 'Madrid' perspective, the process of democratization is explained based on decisions taken by actors at the 'center'. Franco's Spain was a highly centralized State, following the model of the nineteenth century liberal state, which kept the local and municipal levels of the administration in a very dependent position with virtually no autonomy or agency. Nevertheless, local levels of government were closest to demands from Spanish society. The purpose of this paper is to analyze how such a centralized State evolved in the 1970s, focusing on municipal governments in Spain during the period of transition and how those municipalities responded to pressure from "above" and from "below".

This paper focuses on a case study of Seville in the period between the death of General Franco in 1975 and the first local elections in 1979. Aside from the role played by municipalities, civil governors (gobernadores civiles) at the provincial level provided a key tool for democratization which we will analyse here. As the highest governmental authorities in each province, governors were able to control the democratization process either in cooperation with local authorities or, in case of conflict, enforcing the orders of the central government.

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