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Back to the Franco years - 1939 to 1975

This could have been a difficult time, the king was still relatively unknown to the people, the king's father still had a claim to the throne which had passed him by (the last king had been Juan Carlos' grandfather), and unrest had been brewing a few years with violence on the increase.

King Juan Carlos appointed Adolf Suarez as president and together they pushed through several reforms including the dissolution of the parliament, which had been little more than a rubber stamp under Franco, and the holding of true democratic elections in 1976 - the first for 41 years.

Reform was rapid and the country became surprisingly liberal. Those tourists who could have risked being arrested for wearing a bikini on the beach 20 years earlier would now be surprised at the pornographic magazines freely available for sale, plus the films and sex shows that could be found.
Things didn't always go smoothly however and in 1981 there was even an ill-fated attempted coup.


The country did cope with tremendous change however and became full members of the European Economic Union in 1992. Spain was no longer isolated as it had been.
Joining the EU also meant more money coming into the country to help improving roads and other infrastuctures.

1992 was quite a year as it was also the year of Expo92 at Sevilla and the development of Spain's first high speed rail line (which ran from Madrid to Sevilla), and the Barcelona Olympics, which saw substantial regeneration of that city.

2002 saw Spain ditch the peseta and join other European countries using the now Euro as a common currency.
Spain has moved a long way during it's democratic years to be a respected part of Europe.

During the later years of Juan Carlos' reign, his image became slightly tarnished. The people did not like seeing images of him elephant hunting in Botswana, and his younger daughter, the Duchess de Palma de Mallorca was being investigated together with her husband for possible fraud.
In 2014, King Juan Carlos, whose health was deteriorating, abdicated in favour of his son, who then became King Philipe VI. King Philipe VI is married to Queen Letizia, and they have two daughters.