Spain 1923-1931 Civil War, 1936-1939

Spain between 1931 and 1936

Under the unpopular Berenguer administration, democratic institutions such as freedom of the press were restored. A PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT was formed by republicans, socialists and Catalans (PACT OF SAN SEBASTIAN, Aug. 17th 1930)- ignoring the present Berenguer administration; the provisional government members quickly were imprisoned; however, they knew that they enjoyed the support of significant groups in society. A Dec. 1930 coup attempt by Captain FERMIN GALAN failed; he was executed. Berenguer resigned; his successor held negotiations with the provisional government. On April 12th 1931 local elections were held; the monarchists won the countryside, republicans and socialists in most cities, and in both Madrid and Barcelona the REPUBLIC was proclaimed, King Alfonso went into exile. ALCALA ZAMORA formed a new cabinet, consising mainly of politicians who until recently had been prison inmates.
A new constitution was passed, with a unicameral parliament, the CORTES, UNIVERSAL ADULT SUFFRAGE (i.e. women's suffrage introduced), and with presidential system. In the new Cortes, the socialists (PSOE) formed the largest faction. The CNT was legalized again. CATALONIAN AUTONOMY was restored (1932). Church and state were separated, religious education in schools discontinued.

For the first time in her history, Spain was an orderly democratic republic. This had been achieved at an ill-opportune moment, in the midst of the GREAT DEPRESSION. Spanish unemployment figures rose, trade fell and then stagnated. Those who were lucky to hold on to their jobs experienced a cut in their wages. Government attempts to alleviate the situation of the worst affected were resented by the better-off. Other reform policies deprived church and army of their privileges. A land reform was introduced (1932), disappointing the landless, going too far for the landowners.
Due to the severe economic crisis, Spain politically was polarized. Late in 1931 the government declared MARTIAL LAW to maintain law and order (the soldiers now having sworn lotalty to the republic). Another coup attempt in 1932 by General SANJURJO was suppressed.
Both the Catholics and the conservatives felt deprived of their traditional dominating role. In 1933, JOSE ANTONIO PRIMO DE RIVERA, son of the late prime minister, founded the FALANGE PARTY which was to play an important role in Spain's future. The extreme right placated the reforms of the republican government as a step toward Bolzhevism. Also in 1933, the CEDA, a ultraconservatice Catholic party, was founded. A new electoral law favoured the strongest party; while the leftist parties contested the elections one by one, the parties of the right formed electoral alliances and thus made extraordinary gains in the elections of Nov. 1933.
A new coalition, consisting of the Catholic CEDA and of Lerroux' Radicals, was formed. The reform policy was abandoned, numerous earlier reform measures were taken back. Massive strikes followed, centering in Asturias and Catalonia. The CEDA under Gil Robles withdrew their support from the government; pm Ricardo Samper stepped down and a new right government was formed under ALEJANDRO LERROUX, a maverick republican who for personal ambition and animosity cooperated with the rightist parties. The announcement of the formation of the new cabinet caused an immediate violent reaction, the REVOLUTION OF OCT. 4th. It failed; many of the leaders of the left were arrested. In Barcelona, a CATALAN STATE was proclaimed within the framework of the Spanish Republic, but suppressed the next day by armed forces. In the Lerroux cabinet, CEDA leader GIL ROBLES became more and more influential; in 1935 he was appointed minister of war. Late in 1935 he caused Lerroux to step down by withdrawing CEDA support.
In 1936, prime minister AZANA's liberal republicans, together with the socialists and communists formed the POPULAR FRONT. The 1936 elections returned a majority of the Popular Front parties.

Spanish Civil War, from Spartacus Schoolnet; numerous files, many dealing with the prehistory of the civil war
Biography of Jose Maria Gil Robles, from infoplease
Biography of Manuel Azana, from Spartacus Schoolnet, illustrated and detailed
Biography of Niceto Alcala Zamora, from Spartacus Schoolnet
Proclamation of the Republic, from Historia de Espana
The Problems of the Republic 1931-1933, from Historia de Espana; Problems Pt.2, Problems Pt.3, The Republic of the Rightists 1933-1935, from Historia de Espana, Pt.2
La Segona Republica a Catalunya, 1931-1936, from Buxaweb (The Second Republic and Catalonia, 1931-1936), in Catalan
DOCUMENTS Images from Chronik 2000 Bilddatenbank : King Alfonso XIII.; Span. President Manuel Azana y Diaz, 1936
Image : Manuel Azana takes the oath of office, 1931, from Zeelandboek, comment in Dutch
Imahe : Cartoon of Niceta Alcala Zamora, from Zeelandboek, comment in Dutch
Image : Alejandro Lerroux Garcia, from Museo Virtual de la Sanidad en Espana
Images of the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1936), from Museo Virtual de la Sanidad en Espana
Contemporary newspaper articles on Manuel Azana, from Spartacus Schoolnet, scroll down
Contemporary newspaper articles of N. A. Zamora, from Spartacus Schoolnet, scroll down
REFERENCE Peter Pierson, A Troubled New Century, 1898-1931, in : P. Pierson, The History of Spain, London : Greenwood 1999 KMLA Lib. Call Sign 946 P624t
Francisco J. Romero Salvado, Twentieth Century Spain, Politics and Society in Spain 1898-1998, NY : St. Martin's, 1999, 219 pp.; KMLA Lib. Call Sign 946.08 S182t
Paul Preston, The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, Chicago : Dorsey 1986 [G]
Ronald Hilton, Spain 1931-1936, From Monarchy to Civil War, an Eyewitness Account, from Historical Text Archive, Online Book
Article : Spain, in : Americana Annual 1932 pp.667-669, 1933 pp.722-725, 1934 pp.554-556, 1935 pp.669-672 [G]
Article : Spain, in : New International Year Book 1932 pp.762-765, 1933 pp.758-762, 1934 pp.660-662, 1935 pp.676-680 [G]
Article : Spain, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1932 pp.482-483, 1933 pp.475-479, 1934 pp.484-486, 1935 pp.482-484, 1936 pp.459-464 [G]
Article : Spain, in : Statesman's Year Book 1932 pp.1285-1305 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on Sept. 13th 2002, last revised April 20th 2008

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