In 1975, F. Franco died. Pressure and impulse, mainly proceeding from the democratic opposition, made the Francoist state inviable and a new process of transition towards democracy began. In 1978 a new Constitution was approved in Spain that guaranteed the rights and freedoms of individuals. However, the judicial, administrative, military and police personnel of the Francoist state continued in their posts and functions. In the succeeding years a new legislation inspired in the principles of the Constitution has been replacing the norms and dictates of Francoism, but without the formation of a “Truth Commission,” as has occurred in analogous political transitions.

In 1979 a new Autonomy Statute was approved and in 1980 the Basque Parliament and the Basque Government were constituted.

In 1979 municipal elections were held and a municipal corporation was formed that reflected the plurality of Bilbao society. The new councilors elected Jon Castañares, who had headed the list of the Basque Nationalist Party, as mayor.

The new Bilbao corporation undertook a process of democratic regeneration and of transforming the city. The severity of the crisis and industrial reconversion and a lack of resources were to condition municipal action in the initial years of the new democratic City Council.