Courtesy Reuters

The importance of southern Europe to the balance of power in world affairs has been underlined by the continuing crisis in the Middle East, the growth of Russian power in the Mediterranean and President Nixon's diplomatic journey in the autumn of 1970. The earlier renewal of the Spanish-American military pact, followed by Nixon's visit to Madrid, once more called attention to the role played by the Spanish government. At the same time, the future of the Franco régime has raised more questions than at any time in the past two decades, if only because of the fact that Franco himself entered his seventy-ninth year at the close of 1970 and in the preceding year took the unprecedented step of officially designating a successor, Prince Juan Carlos de Borbón, as heir to the Spanish throne.

The Franco régime has been in power for more than 30 years and is the longest-lived

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