In This Review

Spain at the Crossroads
Spain at the Crossroads
By Victor Perez-D'az
Harvard University Press, 1999, 256 pp.

In this impressive sequel to his 1993 work on Spain's democratic transition, Perez-D'az's new book covers the 1980s and 1990s -- Spain's period of Socialist rule, its decline, and the return of the right in 1996. Far more than a chronicle of political events, the book asks whether Spain has succeeded in becoming what he defines as a civil society: a nation grounded in both state and civic institutions, the rule of law, a successful market economy, and numerous voluntary associations. Perez-D'az shows that Spain has indeed progressed despite important hurdles: corruption in the Socialist Party, its questionable antiterrorist practices against separatists, and economic woes. In recent years, a free media, independent courts, and economic liberalization have all contributed to Spain's modernization, including its triumph over several scandals. Spain even qualified to join Europe's single currency in 1998 without ripping its social-welfare net. Readers will appreciate the author's subtle analysis, which ranges from a discussion of the family's role in protecting the young to the role of Catalan and Basque nationalists to Spain's modernization in a comparative European perspective.