“Spain is different” was a slogan composed by Spanish minister Manuel Fraga in the 1960s to persuade the first planeloads of tourists to visit the sun-kissed nation. Spain at the time was under the rule Franco, a former ally of Hitler and Mussolini who won power with their help in a bloody civil war and cemented his grip on it for the next four decades through brutal repression of political opponents. While Britain enjoyed the swinging sixties and French students took to the barricades in hope of a better future in May ’68, Spain was under a fundamentalist catholic regime, where films were censored to get rid of anything subversive to Christian morality and priests raged against the sin of the Northern European bikini. Spain certainly was different.
Spain is now a liberal, outwards-looking, modern, democratic country. Yet it retains certain particularities. Things happen in Spain which would not be tolerated north of the Pyrenees. Corruption, or suspicion of it, has checkered Spain’s political landscape since the democracy was established.