A Bright Transitional Model to Democracy or a Story of Political Resigns and Subjugations

November 20, 2016 Comments Off on A Bright Transitional Model to Democracy or a Story of Political Resigns and Subjugations

This weekend the Spanish Transition to democracy was in the media agenda again because revealed  images by La Sexta Columna on an interview to Adolfo Suárez in 1995. In the document the former President admits that, after the dictatorship, the Spanish Government discarded a referendum to ask the Spaniards whether they preferred a monarchy or a republic. Suárez commented they had polls pointing that the monarchy option would have lost. Thus, they opted to include the Monarchy and the King as Head of the State as something already given. Of course, the status quo was implicitly accepted when the current Constitution in 1978.

These new revelations are fostering the discussion about what did la Transición really mean in the recent history of the country. The ‘official’ and hegemonic narrative of the period is about a bright model from dictatorship to democracy. This story was clearly present in mainstream media. But it is also true that there are many alternative stories about the period and not all media accounts offered such a brilliant account.

Among these other stories, Basque and Catalan media did elaborate a much more complex narrative in which we also find political resigns and subjugations. One of the crucial episodes of la Transición was the ‘failed’ coup d’état in 1981, because it was explained as the moment when the country would never go back to the ‘black Spain’. I  recently wrote a paper for the CICOM Congress 2015 about some of the documentaries that explained 23-F in the Basque and Catalan television and how they elaborated a different story on the event. These narratives must be read interwoven with other media accounts on that historical period, like the now published.

Following, the abstract and a link to the file:

A Fragmented Democratic Transition. Alternative Narratives on 23-F in Basque and Catalan TV Documentaries

Enric Castelló, Universitat Rovira i Virgili

 Abstract: The coup d’état of 23 February, 1981, remains in the memory of Spaniards as one of the epic episodes of democracy. This article analyses how the Basque public television (ETB) and Catalan Television (TVC) contributed to the account of 23-F. By analysing major reports produced and broadcast by both public corporations at different moments, the author notes a disagreement with the hegemonic discourse that lies in the national conflict and the political interpretation of the democratic transition in Spain. The leading Spanish story spoke of the coup as an “attempt” or a “failure” and of the Transition as a “success”, a political model that other transitions to democracy could do well to copy; the contested narratives in these documentaries spoke of an unfinished model based on denials and limitations in which 23-F is a climax and a turning point after which Spain developed a democracy at the cost of political sacrifices.

 Keywords: 23-F coup d’état; democratic transition; hegemonic narrative; historical memory; television documentary

Suggested citation

Castelló, Enric (2016) “A Fragmented Democratic Transition. Alternative Narratives on 23-F in Basque and Catalan TV Documentaries”. Actas del Congreso CICOM 2015 sobre Televisiones Autonómicas. Pamplona. Spain.

Access to pdf

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