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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Political opportunities and electoral incentives : tracing transitional justice policy in Spain from 2004 to the present Alexander, Katherine

Abstract

What explains variation in Spanish transitional justice policy over time? Following decades of silence on this issue, the Spanish state began to implement transitional justice policies in the early 2000s. But these efforts have gone through periods of significant progress and regress over the past 20 years that prevailing explanations in the transitional justice literature do not fully explain. In this thesis, I argue that the key variable that best explains the path of post-transitional justice policy in Spain is the political opportunity structure (POS). To test this argument, I employ process-tracing to determine whether positive transitional justice policy events align with a favorable POS and negative transitional justice policy events align with an unfavorable POS. I also test this hypothesis against two alternative hypotheses based on the literature, namely that transitional justice policy implementation is best explained by international pressure or civil society mobilization. This thesis ultimately concludes that the POS has been a critical factor in shaping Spanish transitional justice policy over time. Periods of policy progress have resulted from electoral outcomes that forced more lukewarm supporters of transitional justice to negotiate with smaller parties that supported transitional justice in order to form a government, or that disrupted existing political structures and provided new incentives for parties to compete on and emphasize transitional justice issues for votes. Reversals in transitional justice policy occurred when parties opposed to transitional justice policies controlled the legislature with an absolute majority.

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