López Rodó, Laureano

López Rodó, Laureano
b. 1920, Barcelona
   Politician and academic
   An administrative lawyer who obtained a Chair at the University of Santiago de Compostela at the age of 25, López Rodó was typical of a new breed of highly gifted civil servants who came to prominence in the 1950s. He received his first political appointment in 1956 through the patronage of Carrero Blanco, who made him Technical Secretary of the Office of the Council of Ministers. In this capacity López Rodó had considerable influence on the crucial cabinet reshuffle of 1957 which brought into the government the so-called technocrats, many of them, like López Rodó himself, members of Opus Dei. This was the beginning of the gradual realignment of the regime in response to contemporary economic realities, the main result of which was the Stabilization Plan of 1959. Energetic and hard-working, López Rodó initiated a reform of the structure of government which gradually began to shift the day-to-day administration away from Franco towards a network of committees serviced by a new Office of Economic Co-ordination and Planning. This was part of a cautious evolutionary strategy on the part of López Rodó to move towards a system of government which would ultimately not depend on the person of Franco, but which would preserve the essential lineaments of authoritarianism, albeit in a modernized form. Symptomatic of this strategy was López Rodó"s drafting of the Principles of the National Movement in 1957, a document which paid lipservice to the ideals of the old Falange, but which was sedulously vague about how these were to influence the form of the state. The eventual nomination of Prince Juan Carlos as successor to Franco in 1969 was one of the most significant longterm results of López Rodó"s activities.
   López Rodó"s power and influence increased even further when in 1962 he was appointed to head the Commissariat for the Development Plan, which gave him a key role in formulating economic policy. In 1965 he was made Minister without Portfolio, and has been credited with much of the economic success which Spain achieved in the 1960s. His indispensability to the regime for nearly two decades after his first government appointment is revealed by the fact that although implicated in the Matesa scandal in 1969, he retained his post while other ministerial colleagues lost theirs. With the increasing physical and mental incapacity of Franco, however, and the return to repression during the closing years of the regime, he was moved to the less influential post of Minister of Foreign affairs in 1973. After Carrero Blanco's assassination and the appointment of Carlos Arias Navarro as Prime Minister, he was dropped from the cabinet and became Ambassador to Austria. In the elections of 1977 he gained a seat for the Popular Alliance in Barcelona, which he held until 1979.
   López Rodó was not an instinctive democrat: he was one of the siete magníficos, the "magnificent seven", involved with Manuel Fraga Iribarne in the foundation of the Popular Alliance, which they hoped might preserve the essential features of Francoism. Nevertheless, his career illustrates the important role played by a particular kind of academically brilliant and ambitious career bureaucrat in modernizing the economic and administrative structure of the regime in ways which, whatever their long-term intentions, helped to smooth the transition to democracy.
   See also: history
   Further reading
   - Preston, P. (1993) Franco, London: Harper Collins (the standard and most comprehensive biography in English; the index enables the reader to trace López Rodó"s career and relate it to contemporary historical events).
   EAMONN RODGERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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