15 JUNE 1962, Page 4


THE present crisis in Spain, strikingly sym- bolised by the exile of Gil Robles, is the most serious challenge the Franco regime has had to meet since the inflationary crisis of 1956, which was temporarily brought to an end by the 'stabilisation plan' of 1959. This plan, however, failed to introduce the real economic and social reforms that were needed in Spain, and caused the serious discontent which is now being re- flected in social unrest. The most extraordinary thing about the present wave of strikes is that they are apparently completely spontaneous. For the first time in twenty-three years the working classes have entered upon the Spanish political scene abetted by many intellectuals and by a con- siderable portion of the clergy. The political effects of this have been swift to make them- selves felt. Encouragement has been given to those groups of Catholic progressives who had hitherto felt themselves to be fighting unsup- ported by the Church, and the meeting at Munich in which agreement was reached by a Spanish opposition ranging from Liberal Monarchists to Socialists shows what effect recent events have had in solidifying an opposition that had previously been scattered. A combination of a difficult economic situation and the alienation of all shades of Spanish opinion is threatening the basis of the Franco regime. Whether it, will be able to repress this movement will depend on two factors: the attitude of the army and the support (or lack of support) received from the US. In the meantime by repressing liberal and Catholic protests and blaming the crisis on Prague radio the Spanish Government is playing a game which can only be to the advantage of the Communism which it claims to be fighting.