technocrats

technocrats
   Tecnócratas was the name given to the new breed of professional economists and other universitytrained people brought into the government by Franco in 1957 to tackle the disastrous economic situation to which earlier policies of autarky, protectionism and stifling state interventionism had brought the country. The arrival of the technocrats into positions of influence marked a turning point in Franco's regime. Considerably younger, more pragmatic and less politically blinkered than their predecessors, the new ministers and their advisers set about tackling the problems of inflation, balance of payments deficit and trade disincentives. Among the most prominent of these technocrats were Alberto Ullastres, the new Minister of Trade, Mariano Navarro Rubio, Minister of Finance, and Laureano López Rodó, Technical Secretary to the Cabinet, all of whom had teams of highly trained economic and technical advisers. Also associated with the technocrats was Gregorio López Bravo, who became Director-General of the International Trade De-partment in 1959 and Minister of Industry in 1962. The whole thrust of the technocrats was to improve the workings of the Francoist administration from within by importing new management techniques.
   Abandoning the by now discredited attempt at self-sufficiency and import substitution, the technocrats cautiously introduced reforms aimed at liberalizing foreign trade, promoting exports and allowing greatly increased imports. The peseta was devalued and Spain joined international economic organizations (OEEC, IMF and World Bank). The new policies culminated in the Stabilization Plan of 1959 which administered a sharp deflationary shock to the Spanish economy. For the technocrats, monetary stability at home was an essential prerequisite of increased foreign trade and inward investment; hence their uncompromising determination, evident in the severe measures of 1959, to cut back on public expenditure and public debt and bring inflation under control. To the extent that it helped to usher in the "economic miracle" of the 1960s, the technocrats" economic Stabilization Plan may be said to have been successful. Although this remains their main claim to fame, other political initiatives have also been attributed to the technocrats, such as promoting property ownership through subsidized housing schemes, encouraging Spain's abortive application to join the EEC in 1962, and giving their support to the Juan Carlos option in the tricky question of choosing Franco's successor.
   The technocrats have been very closely associated with the Catholic-cum-capitalist organization Opus Dei, and it is true that many of them did belong (including the four named above). While Opus Dei has often been criticized, no doubt rightly, for being excessively secretive and self-seeking, the new breed of technocratic politician that it promoted was largely responsible for bringing about a refreshing change of rhetoric on the part of the Franco regime, from the vacuous, reactionary, xenophobic, selfcongratulatory and pretentious propaganda of the 1940s and 1950s to the much less strident and more realistic promotion of sensible economic and social objectives and values of the 1960s, even if within a framework that remained essentially conservative and diri-giste.
   Further reading
   - Fusi, J.P. (1987) Franco: A biography, London: Unwin Hyman (chapter 19 deals with the arrival of the technocrats to power and their policies).
   - Gallo, M. (1973) Spain under Franco: A History, London: Allen & Unwin (the English version of an early (1969) but well-informed study by a distinguished French historian; see especially pp. 251–344 for the period of the technocrats).
   - Payne, S. (1987) The Franco Regime, 1936-1975, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press (some information on the technocrats and their policies in chapters 18 and 19).
   C. A. LONGHURST

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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