'The Dutch will give you problems': Nederland en Spanje in transitie van dictatuur naar democratie, 1973-1977

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)


‘The Dutch will give you problems,’ said Henry Kissinger, United States Secretary of State, on 2 June 1976. He made this remark during a conversation at the White House with the Spanish king, Juan Carlos de Borbón. The latter had become the head of state after the death of the 82-year-old dictator Francisco Franco on 20 November 1975. Spain embarked on an uncertain political transition. An important milestone was achieved on 15 June 1977, when the first democratic elections since 1936 took place. This doctoral dissertation examines what role the progressive Den Uyl cabinet (1973-1977) played in the Spanish transition from dictatorship to democracy. Although the Netherlands could be considered a relatively small power compared to countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany and France, this thesis shows that the Den Uyl cabinet influenced the democratisation of Spain within the available margins. In particular, the Netherlands was able to make demands regarding the question of Spanish accession to NATO and the EC. After all, membership had to be unanimously approved by all member states. In that respect, the Netherlands was certainly not a fuerza insignificante. This dissertation demonstrates that the Den Uyl cabinet, and in particular Minister of Foreign Affairs Max van der Stoel, indeed acted more than once as a critical ally, both within NATO and the EC. Kissinger's statement – ‘The Dutch will give you problems’ – turned out to be entirely correct in this regard.
Original languageDutch
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Hellema, Duco, Primary supervisor
Award date12 Jun 2020
Print ISBNs978-94-6375-965-6
Electronic ISBNs978-94-6375-967-0
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2020


  • Nederland
  • Spanje
  • transitie
  • democratisering
  • kabinet-Den Uyl
  • Franco-regime

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