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This edited collection explores the consequences of the 2008 economic crisis in Southern Europe, focussing on how it affected the interpretation of the past in Spain, Greece and Portugal. The book brings together contributors from history, cultural studies, political science and sociology as it revisits the dominant historical narratives around Southern European transitions to democracy more than forty years since the demise of authoritarian regimes. Here, Spain, Greece and Portugal serve as ideal case studies for the purpose of a transnational analysis due to the similarities in their political and financial conditions as well as the significant social and cultural changes that occurred in the aftermath of the dictatorships, as well as in the academic narratives that were produced. The book further examines the extent to which the crisis shifted our attention towards and perception of other transition-related concepts, as it discusses topics such as public memory, Europeanism and uses of the past by grassroots movements.



Chapter 1. Introduction: Lost in Transition?

This chapter looks back at the history of transitology and the conceptualisation of Spain, Greece and Portugal as part of the canon of the “third wave of democratisation”. It measures the distance between the time in which the three countries were dubbed “New European South” and were considered pioneers in terms of democratisation, and the time of the crisis in which a series of social and political contracts forged in the mid- and late-1970s were seriously challenged. It then analyses the ways in which the present volume departs from existing works and states its original contribution to studies in the subject area, in that it combines an appreciation of the public rereadings of transitions at present and a grassroots perspective regarding the connection between present and past social movements. Apart from looking at the state of the art, this chapter sets the parameters of the volume and presents the structure of the book.
Kostis Kornetis, Maria Elena Cavallaro

Conflicting Memory of Transition


Chapter 2. Self-Portraits of the Past: Conflicting Narratives of the Spanish Transition in a Time of Crisis (2008–2016)

The master narrative that presented Spanish transition as a peaceful, consensual and well-organised path to democracy was seriously challenged since the beginning of the financial crisis of 2008. Spain’s contemporary economic and political crises were often considered a result of a botched transition to democracy in the late 1970s. But, for all the significance of this discourse, the years of the economic crisis also witnessed a robust defence of the traditional narrative of the transition to democracy in some quarters. A number of scholars, politicians and artists underscored the benign nature of the origins of Spanish democracy to oppose political and social changes. This chapter explores the dialectic between positive and critical narratives of the Spanish transition to democracy over 2008–2016. The authors analyse the confronting narratives in three fields: academic, political and cultural. The chapter deals with recent historiography on the transition to democracy; examines the uses of the transition in political discourses; and explores the confronting representations of the period in cinema, theatre, television and literature.
Carmina Gustran, Alejandro Quiroga

Chapter 3. The Legacy of the Portuguese Transition to Democracy: April-Warriors Versus November-Warriors

Political parties will engage in policy and non-policy activities in the field of memory politics if they believe this will helps them win more votes, but the extent to which they engage in such activities and develop strong narratives about the recent past varies. This chapter explores how much memory politics has mattered for political parties in Portugal since the breakdown of the authoritarian regime. Analysing four decades of activities in the Portuguese parliament (1976–2016) reveals the existence of mnemonic groups, particularly mnemonic-warriors, roughly divided along the left/right axis, in which the memory of the transition appears as more divisive than the authoritarian past. The Portuguese case is a case of a relative crystallisation of parties’ position and behaviour in the field of memory politics, even decades after the democratisation process.
Filipa Raimundo, Claudia Generoso de Almeida

Chapter 4. Public Memory of the Transitions in Spain and Greece: Toward a Change of Script?

The transitions to democracy in Spain and Greece in the mid-1970s have been hailed for quite some time as the ultimate success stories. Ever since the onset of the global financial crisis of 2008/2009, however, the two countries were strongly challenged by new social movements that sprang out of the crisis and by intellectuals close to them, pulling out foundational threads from these celebratory narratives. This chapter focuses on how the public memory of events in the two countries evolved over the past forty years. For this purpose, it briefly traces the dominant narratives (political, scholarly and popular) and their transformations over time. It further focuses on how social movements from below often acted as inter-generational carriers of revisionism regarding the supposed smooth, unproblematic and efficient nature of transitions—with movements themselves being often trapped within this complex memory work.
Kostis Kornetis

Europeanism, Europeanisation and Euroscepticism Since the Late 1970s


Chapter 5. The Abduction of Europa: Europeanism and Euroscepticism in Greece, 1974–2015

This chapter examines Greek Euroscepticism both at party and popular level from the country’s accession to the EC in 1981 to the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, by analysing the data from the biannual Eurobarometer surveys and the reading of parliamentary debates and the press. This diverse source base will allow the investigation of the forms through which the “framing” of Europe took place within the political and public discourse, and the impact the framing had on attitudes towards European integration. The interdisciplinary approach taken here will allow us to move beyond an interest-based approach and to investigate the diverse ways the EU was framed and understood as a political, cultural and economic project; how the EU gained and lost legitimacy; as well as the expectations and beliefs in the rise and fall of support for Greek EC membership.
Ioannis Balampanidis

Chapter 6. The Persistence of the Myth: Europeanism in Spain from the Late Francoism to the Outbreak of the 2008 Economic Crisis

Europeanism is still stronger in Spain in comparison not only with other Southern European countries that joined European institutions during the second and third enlargement—but today—in comparison with some founding members too. According to the existing literature, the resilience of today’s europeanism is linked to the strong role European integration has played during the democratic transition. This chapter tries to demonstrate to what extent the economic crisis challenges this interpretation. It argues that the persistence of the “European myth” today is proof that the relationship between europeanism and democracy was not monolithic and changed over time. The author investigates the relation between europeanism and democratic values at political level from the latest years of the Franco regime up to the start of the economic crisis in 2008, looking at the so-called pre-transition period (1962–1975), the transition process (1976–1982), the period stretching from the consolidation of democracy to the Maastricht Treaty (1982–1992), and lastly from the Maastricht Treaty to the onset of the economic crisis (1992–2008).
Maria Elena Cavallaro

Chapter 7. Parties, Citizens and the Eurozone Crisis: How Europe Has Contributed to the Resilience of the Portuguese Party System

Using the Portuguese case, this chapter looks at how the process of European integration has affected both inter-party competition and voter-party alignments—two key dimensions of political representation and the performance of the political system. The chapter focuses on the position of political parties on the process of European integration, on the one hand, and on the evolution of public opinion, on the other. Analysing public opinion data and election manifestos, the main goal is twofold. Firstly, the author aims to explore the role played by Europe in shaping patterns of party competition before and after the crisis. Secondly, he seeks to investigate how citizens’ views of the EU have evolved over time. It will be argued that Portugal shows a combination of continuity and change, as some left-wing parties have strategically adapted their stances, whereas there has been an increase in citizens’ negative attitudes towards the EU. Moreover, party strategic goals have led to a depoliticisation of European integration. This is an important aspect that allows the understanding of why new parties have failed to politicise the European issue and to what extent the stances taken by party leadership have contributed to the resilience of the Portuguese party system.
Marco Lisi

Uses of the Past by Grassroots Political Actors


Chapter 8. Transition to Stability: The Greek Left in 1974

This chapter explores how the Greek Left responded to the downfall of the military regime in the summer of 1974 and the question of transition to a new political order. It argues that the parties of the communist Left disassociated themselves from radical aims and opted for a cautious policy that would allow them to reenter national politics. This stance was shaped by traumatic historical legacies of the 1940s and the defeat of the Left at the moment of post-war transition. Therefore, this chapter highlights the shaping of the political imagination of the Left at moments of national crises and the particulars of the transition to the Third Greek Republic.
Kostis Karpozilos

Chapter 9. From the ‘Unfinished Revolution’ to the ‘Defence of the Revolution’: Framing the Transition in Austerity-Era Portugal

This chapter analyses how political actors from ‘the arc of opposition’, particularly social movements, trade unions and left-wing political parties mobilised the memory of the Revolution in Portugal during the country’s ‘years of austerity’ between 2010 and 2015—a period when, under the direction of the troika (EU–ECB–IMF) of international lenders, Portuguese governments embarked on a series of spending cuts and supply-side reforms in the context of economic crisis and high unemployment. It proposes that three framings of transition emerged particularly strongly across the period: (i) as a tool to shape collective political identities and their legitimacy; (ii) by articulating a series of rights and institutions as ‘conquests of the revolution’ now under threat; and finally (iii) by framing the work of the revolution as ‘unfinished’, i.e. requiring an overhaul of existing institutions. These framings were used at different points by a number of actors, and their weight across opposition evolved over the period. This chapter concludes by exploring the causes of the dynamic use of such frames, and their consequences for political developments in Portugal.
Tiago Carvalho, Pedro Ramos Pinto

Chapter 10. How National Histories Shaped the Politics of Crisis: South European Contrasts

This chapter outlines several fundamental crisis-era contrasts between the southern European cases of Portugal, Spain and Greece, arguing that the prior divergence in their national political histories—especially during the region’s transitions to democracy in the 1970s—largely accounts for the pattern of variation. Both in the road to crisis and in the handling of its effects, the countries of southern Europe have followed markedly different trajectories that are reflective of forms of political practice rooted in the democratisation pathways which initiated the ultimately global “Third Wave”. The chapter argues that large cross-case differences in the pathway followed to democracy in the 1970s—alongside several crucial “critical antecedents” in the countries’ political histories—put in place enduring differences in predominant forms of political life, a pattern of dissimilarity that has manifested itself with special clarity in the nature and place of public protest in democracy’s institutionally recognized “conversation”.
Robert M. Fishman



Chapter 11. A Transnational Epilogue

This chapter sums up the aims and findings of the book. As some authors have underlined, the struggle for the memory is a fight for the future, with long-lasting consequences for the political, cultural and economic fields. With its special focus on the evolution of the memory of transitions, the legacy of European values, and the impact of visions of the past on new grassroots movements and political actors, this volume seeks to describe the way these issues have been perceived over time. The present contribution further promotes a transnational comparison, providing some clues about the interrelatedness between the in-depth descriptions of distinct national case studies. Whereas the underlying similarities have been dealt with in the introduction, here the focus is more on the emerging differences between Spain, Greece and Portugal.
Maria Elena Cavallaro, Kostis Kornetis


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