The regime that emerged at the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 had the unusual characteristic of being not a new post-conflict administration but rather a continuation of a government, illegitimate in every way, that had been constituted during the conflict itself. The Francoist state, an alternative to the legitimate government of the Spanish Second Republic, had been declared by the military rebels themselves by the Decree of 21 September 1936, according to which Franco assumed all the powers of the New State (Carr 1986: 259). Moreover, Franco, by clever political manoeuvring, had made sure that his hold on power would not be temporary. He had been declared ‘Head of Government of the Spanish State’, but his supporters had made sure to remove the words ‘for the duration of the war’ that appeared in the original draft document. Gloomily but correctly his military colleagues predicted that, like a true africanista, once in power he would never relinquish it (Graham 2005: 71). As his military dominance asserted itself, it was boosted by gradual recognition by foreign powers. This had begun in August 1937 when the Vatican had recognized the Nationalist government and sent an ambassador.
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