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The day Spain voted “yes” to the Spanish Constitution

The day Spain voted “yes” to the Spanish Constitution

10 fotos

A polling station manned by a clown, inmates casting their votes inside a Madrid prison...these are some of the scenes captured on December 6, 1978 by EL PAÍS photographers and digitalized for the first time now

  • On Wednesday, December 6, 1978, Spaniards voted in a referendum to show their support or opposition to the recently drafted Constitution. Held on a working day that was rainy across much of the country, abstention was 32.89%, higher than the 20-to-25% that the Interior Ministry had been expecting. The result showed 88.54% support for the new charter of rights.
    1On Wednesday, December 6, 1978, Spaniards voted in a referendum to show their support or opposition to the recently drafted Constitution. Held on a working day that was rainy across much of the country, abstention was 32.89%, higher than the 20-to-25% that the Interior Ministry had been expecting. The result showed 88.54% support for the new charter of rights.
  • A voter waits impatiently at a voting station in Madrid. The day was full of anecdotes: the Socialist leader Felipe González forgot his son’s birthday, Interior Minister Rodolfo Martín Villa forgot to bring ID to his polling place, and communist leader Santiago Carrillo went to vote with a high fever brought on by bronchitis.
    2A voter waits impatiently at a voting station in Madrid. The day was full of anecdotes: the Socialist leader Felipe González forgot his son’s birthday, Interior Minister Rodolfo Martín Villa forgot to bring ID to his polling place, and communist leader Santiago Carrillo went to vote with a high fever brought on by bronchitis.
  • Lines of voters in Cádiz. There were several incidents that day, including bomb scares, arrests over illegal propaganda, voter intimidation by far-right activists, and a company in Tarragona that offered factory employees money so they wouldn’t interrupt their work to go vote.
    3Lines of voters in Cádiz. There were several incidents that day, including bomb scares, arrests over illegal propaganda, voter intimidation by far-right activists, and a company in Tarragona that offered factory employees money so they wouldn’t interrupt their work to go vote.
  • Young and old voting at a polling station in Madrid. After a three-day meeting, Catholic Church officials told the faithful that they were free to vote whichever way they wished. Some bishops supported a ‘no’ vote because they opposed passages of the Constitution that made Spain a non-denominational state and opened the door to divorce.
    4Young and old voting at a polling station in Madrid. After a three-day meeting, Catholic Church officials told the faithful that they were free to vote whichever way they wished. Some bishops supported a ‘no’ vote because they opposed passages of the Constitution that made Spain a non-denominational state and opened the door to divorce.
  • A sign in Bilbao encouraging abstention. The day before the referendum was held, the Basque terrorist group ETA had murdered three people in San Sebastián. Police chief José María Serrais Llasera, his deputy Gabriel Alonso Perejil, and municipal police officer Ángel Cruz Salcines were having a snack at a bar when they were shot at close range.
    5A sign in Bilbao encouraging abstention. The day before the referendum was held, the Basque terrorist group ETA had murdered three people in San Sebastián. Police chief José María Serrais Llasera, his deputy Gabriel Alonso Perejil, and municipal police officer Ángel Cruz Salcines were having a snack at a bar when they were shot at close range.
  • At Divina Pastora School in Madrid, the randomly designated head of the polling station showed up in clown makeup. “I painted my face this way to protest having to do this job, I think it’s the most adequate look,” he told the media. His father, sitting at the same table, looks angrily at the scene.
    6At Divina Pastora School in Madrid, the randomly designated head of the polling station showed up in clown makeup. “I painted my face this way to protest having to do this job, I think it’s the most adequate look,” he told the media. His father, sitting at the same table, looks angrily at the scene.
  • At Carabanchel penitentiary in Madrid, 10 inmates voted out of a population of 900. Prisoners were not allowed to vote in elections, but they were free to vote in referendums. But some inmates found themselves unable to exercise their right, like Eleuterio Sánchez, who was not on the voter rolls.
    7At Carabanchel penitentiary in Madrid, 10 inmates voted out of a population of 900. Prisoners were not allowed to vote in elections, but they were free to vote in referendums. But some inmates found themselves unable to exercise their right, like Eleuterio Sánchez, who was not on the voter rolls.
  • Spain held an earlier referendum on December 15, 1976 to support the Political Reform Law that paved the way for democracy. The opposition, which was still outlawed at the time, supported abstention (which was 22.6%). Under Franco, there were two referendums, one in 1947 and one in 1966, concerning the leader’s permanence in power.
    8Spain held an earlier referendum on December 15, 1976 to support the Political Reform Law that paved the way for democracy. The opposition, which was still outlawed at the time, supported abstention (which was 22.6%). Under Franco, there were two referendums, one in 1947 and one in 1966, concerning the leader’s permanence in power.
  • Interior Minister Rodolfo Martín Villa explaining the results of the referendum at Madrid’s Palacio de Congresos center. A computer was bought for 100 million pesetas (over €600,000) to process the ballots. The device had been built five years earlier in the United States.
    9Interior Minister Rodolfo Martín Villa explaining the results of the referendum at Madrid’s Palacio de Congresos center. A computer was bought for 100 million pesetas (over €600,000) to process the ballots. The device had been built five years earlier in the United States.
  • Reporters listening to Interior Minister Rodolfo Martín Villa as he explains the outcome of the referendum. International media outlets sent special correspondents to cover the historic event in Spain.
    10Reporters listening to Interior Minister Rodolfo Martín Villa as he explains the outcome of the referendum. International media outlets sent special correspondents to cover the historic event in Spain.