The fall of the Monarchy

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  • Created on: 02-12-12 17:27

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Alfonso did not survive the backlash in the wake of Primo de Rivera’s fall. He decided to hold local elections in April 1931. In those elections every provincial capital except 4 voted Republican with overwhelming votes in Madrid and Barcelona. Finding no backing from the army or the civil guard Alfonso decided to leave the country.

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The Second Republic 1931-1936

The new Republic came into being amidst a wave of optimism. Elections were held for a constituent assembly (an elected body assembled to draft or to adopt a constitution) in June 1931, which gave an enormous majority to parties favouring a republic.
The main groups were:

  • The Left Republicans: 150 seats, a grouping of 4 parties whose outstanding figure was the previously little known Manuel Azaña. Initially Minister for War he soon became Prime Minister. He was the driving force behind the new parliamentary republic.
  • The socialists: 115 seats, led by Largo Cabellero and Indalecio Prieto both of whom were in favour of entering the govt. in coalition with the republicans.
  • The Radicals: 90 seats, still led by Lerroux. They retained their anti-clericalism but otherwise had become a conservative party of the middle and lower classes who were tired of the King and had little love either for the army or the church. Were chief opposition party. (Others in opposition were the Catholic right, the Basque Catholics, the Navarrese Carlists).
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CONSEQUENCES

  1. Catholics who might have been won over to the republic were alienated. They were already shocked by the fact that mobs (partly provoked by an attack on the new regime by the Cardinal Primate of Spain) had burnt down dozens of churches and convents. Many poor parish priests had voted for a republic. They now became rapidly anti-republican. Enemies of the republic were presented with a rallying cry – defence of the church, which they badly needed.
  2. The govt was split. The first PM of the Republic Niceto Alcalá-Zamora, a catholic, resigned even though Azaña (who would replace him) managed to moderate the article so that state funding would continue for 2 more years and monastic orders, except the Jesuits, could remain.
  3. The education measure was not immediately practicable. In Madrid for example there were 37,000 children in state primary schools, 44,000 in private schools run by religious orders, 2,700 new state schools were needed.

 Consideration of the constitution was completed by the end of the year and Alcalá-Zamora became the Republics’ first president…some reassurance to Catholics, perhaps…but the damage had been done. Azaña as PM now ruled in coalition with the socialists.

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Catalan autonomy

1932 saw the granting of Catalan autonomy under which the Catalans gained their own assembly – the Generalitat. They had been threatening a complete break from Spain. Certainly a major achievement of the Republic, it did however provide another target for the Republics enemies who accused it of trying, under the cover of autonomy, to split up the national territory…to undo the work of Ferdinand and Isabella. (Isabella – Castile, Ferdinand – Aragon C17 married and worked to unify Spain).

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a

  • There was a number of early decrees designed to alleviate rural distress: 8 hour day, wages were nearly doubled, landlords were compelled to cultivate all their land, tenants were given rights of appeal against rent increases and protection against capricious (impulsive) eviction, plus employment of cheap migrant labour was banned.
  • This was followed by the Agrarian Statute (1932) under which an Institute of Agrarian reform, funded by the state, would look in the centre and the south at which estates should be expropriated (take from an owner) with, in principle, every estate of more than 56 acres that was not worked by the owners liable to expropriation. The estates of 262 noble families (The Grandees) were expropriated without appeal (with compensation based on tax returns – which of course had been previously fiddled by the landowners!). The statute was specifically aimed at Latifundia (area around Seville) and offered little to the rural poor of the north.
  • It was a failure… as Malefakis comments it ‘seriously threatened the strongest economic class in Spain and awakened the hopes of the impoverished peasantry’. It excited conservative fears…but could not satisfy the peasants, particularly in areas of anarcho-syndicalist strength. There were insufficient funds available to give improvement grants to the peasants. Small landowners found it very difficult to get credit from banks worried about their estates’ future at a time when the world economic crisis was ruining agricultural markets and expropriation been possible
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aA

  • There was a number of early decrees designed to alleviate rural distress: 8 hour day, wages were nearly doubled, landlords were compelled to cultivate all their land, tenants were given rights of appeal against rent increases and protection against capricious (impulsive) eviction, plus employment of cheap migrant labour was banned.
  • This was followed by the Agrarian Statute (1932) under which an Institute of Agrarian reform, funded by the state, would look in the centre and the south at which estates should be expropriated (take from an owner) with, in principle, every estate of more than 56 acres that was not worked by the owners liable to expropriation. The estates of 262 noble families (The Grandees) were expropriated without appeal (with compensation based on tax returns – which of course had been previously fiddled by the landowners!). The statute was specifically aimed at Latifundia (area around Seville) and offered little to the rural poor of the north.
  • It was a failure… as Malefakis comments it ‘seriously threatened the strongest economic class in Spain and awakened the hopes of the impoverished peasantry’. It excited conservative fears…but could not satisfy the peasants, particularly in areas of anarcho-syndicalist strength. There were insufficient funds available to give improvement grants to the peasants. Small landowners found it very difficult to get credit from banks worried about their estates’ future at a time when the world economic crisis was ruining agricultural markets and expropriation been possible
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aA

  • There was a number of early decrees designed to alleviate rural distress: 8 hour day, wages were nearly doubled, landlords were compelled to cultivate all their land, tenants were given rights of appeal against rent increases and protection against capricious (impulsive) eviction, plus employment of cheap migrant labour was banned.
  • This was followed by the Agrarian Statute (1932) under which an Institute of Agrarian reform, funded by the state, would look in the centre and the south at which estates should be expropriated (take from an owner) with, in principle, every estate of more than 56 acres that was not worked by the owners liable to expropriation. The estates of 262 noble families (The Grandees) were expropriated without appeal (with compensation based on tax returns – which of course had been previously fiddled by the landowners!). The statute was specifically aimed at Latifundia (area around Seville) and offered little to the rural poor of the north.
  • It was a failure… as Malefakis comments it ‘seriously threatened the strongest economic class in Spain and awakened the hopes of the impoverished peasantry’. It excited conservative fears…but could not satisfy the peasants, particularly in areas of anarcho-syndicalist strength. There were insufficient funds available to give improvement grants to the peasants. Small landowners found it very difficult to get credit from banks worried about their estates’ future at a time when the world economic crisis was ruining agricultural markets and expropriation been possible
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AGRARIAN REFORM

  • There was a number of early decrees designed to alleviate rural distress: 8 hour day, wages were nearly doubled, landlords were compelled to cultivate all their land, tenants were given rights of appeal against rent increases and protection against capricious (impulsive) eviction, plus employment of cheap migrant labour was banned.
  • This was followed by the Agrarian Statute (1932) under which an Institute of Agrarian reform, funded by the state, would look in the centre and the south at which estates should be expropriated (take from an owner) with, in principle, every estate of more than 56 acres that was not worked by the owners liable to expropriation. The estates of 262 noble families (The Grandees) were expropriated without appeal (with compensation based on tax returns – which of course had been previously fiddled by the landowners!). The statute was specifically aimed at Latifundia (area around Seville) and offered little to the rural poor of the north.
  • It was a failure… as Malefakis comments it ‘seriously threatened the strongest economic class in Spain and awakened the hopes of the impoverished peasantry’. It excited conservative fears…but could not satisfy the peasants, particularly in areas of anarcho-syndicalist strength. There were insufficient funds available to give improvement grants to the peasants. Small landowners found it very difficult to get credit from banks worried about their estates’ future at a time when the world economic crisis was ruining agricultural markets and expropriation been possible
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ARMY REFORM

This was another measure that caused problems.

Sensible steps were taken: compulsory retirement on full pay of over 40% of the officer corps and appointment of Republican officers…but this caused resentment. Quite a number of high ranking army officers had moved to the right during Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship and were increasingly making the equation army=Patria (pertaining to ones native land) and were keen to intervene in politics to protect Holy Spain.

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opposition from the right

Given the fears and resentment that he govts. reforms provoked on the right it is unsurprising that the Republic faced attacks from the right…soon various groups were planning to overthrow Azaña; monarchist politicians and generals, right-wing Republicans, hard-line professional army officers experienced in fighting in Africa – the Africanists.

 

In particular there was General Sanjurjo, former director of the civil guard – the hated semi-military police – who by refusing to back Primo de Rivera had played a part in the founding of the Republic but who was now disgruntled having being dismissed by Azaña after the civil guard shot a number of people during a week of popular unrest in 1932.

 

He organized a rising in August of 1932 with the aim of setting up a right-wing government to re-establish order and discipline. Support was very limited…recruiting perhaps only 5% support in the Spanish officer corps. The rising collapsed and he was imprisoned (but pardoned in 1934 by the new right-wing government and allowed to retire to Portugal).

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opposition from the left

Opposition from the right might well be expected but the govt. also had opposition from the left. One of its great misfortunes was to come into being at a time of economic crisis…widespread unemployment fuelled working class and peasant militancy – together with the raised but increasingly disappointed aspirations that the Republic engendered. 1931 and 1932 saw an inevitable series of strikes with sabotage, violence, clashes with the police…and also risings on the left. 

The core of the opposition came from the CNT and particularly its militant wing the FAI (Federación Anaquista Ibérica). There were failed CNT led risings in early 1932 and early 1933 together with numerous CNT led strikes, particularly in Barcelona…whilst the rural south was in a state of effervescence. Perhaps most damaging to the govt. was a civil guard and army siege of rebel anarchist villagers in the village of Casas Viejas near Jerez which culminated in their houses being set on fire with 25 killed. 

Brenan comments that ‘Casas Viejas produced a terrible effect on the working classes all over Spain…the credit of the government never recovered from this blow’. Especially when it transpired that 12 prisoners were shot by police in cold blood.

 

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the fall of azana govern

  •  By the time of its resignation in Sept. 1933 the govt. was deeply unpopular; its reforms had alienated the right and failed to satisfy working class aspirations, incessant unrest further alarmed the Right and exasperated the Centre, whilst measures against unrest (there were said to be 9000 CNT militants alone in prison) further radicalized the working class.
  • Furthermore the socialists were now moving to the Left and in the elections of November 1933 they decided to withdraw from an electoral pact with the Republicans. This meant that the Centre Left vote was split and guaranteed victory for the Right.
  • A Centre Right Cortes (parliament) emerged with the socialists (PSOE, Partido Socialista Obrero Español) dropping from 166 to 58 deputies and with Left Republicans falling from 120 to about 6.
  • The victor was a well-organised new catholic party the CEDA (Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas), led by Gil Robles – a wealthy young right wing catholic politician and journalist – which gained 110 seats…whilst a further 97 seats were won by other right wing parties on whom Robles could depend. (Few of these were monarchist..Renovación Española (restore Alfonso) 15, Traditionalists (Carlists) 20.
  • The second largest party was Lerroux’s radicals with 104 and President Alcadá Zamora asked him to put together a coalition government, as CEDA alone could not command.
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conservative gov 1933

This lack of an overall majority kept Gil Robles out of the premiership and he had to be content with a place in Radical led conservative govts. over the next 2 and half years, led by Lerroux until March 1934 and Ricardo Samper (Radical) after that…until Oct 34, Lerroux again.
The Radical led coalitions proceeded to reverse most of the reform legislation of the
Azaña government:

Laws fixing wages and conditions of employment were repealed or allowed to lapse

  • Many peasants settled on great estates were evicted
  • Agrarian wages fell by between 40 and 50%
  • Tenants’ guarantee against capricious (unpredictable) eviction repealed
  • Anti-clerical legislation allowed to lapse (this shows how much hitherto anti-clerical radicals were dependent on the CEDA)
  • The Sanjurjo plotters were amnestied and even given arrears of pay (Sanjurjo himself had already been released and allowed to live in Portugal)
  • The govt. quarreled with the Catalan Generalitat over the latters attempts to restore some protection to tenants
  • It alienated the Basques after failing to continue work on a Basque autonomy statute (already in preparation up to Nov 1933)

 

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conservative gov 1933

This lack of an overall majority kept Gil Robles out of the premiership and he had to be content with a place in Radical led conservative govts. over the next 2 and half years, led by Lerroux until March 1934 and Ricardo Samper (Radical) after that…until Oct 34, Lerroux again.
The Radical led coalitions proceeded to reverse most of the reform legislation of the
Azaña government:

Laws fixing wages and conditions of employment were repealed or allowed to lapse

  • Many peasants settled on great estates were evicted
  • Agrarian wages fell by between 40 and 50%
  • Tenants’ guarantee against capricious (unpredictable) eviction repealed
  • Anti-clerical legislation allowed to lapse (this shows how much hitherto anti-clerical radicals were dependent on the CEDA)
  • The Sanjurjo plotters were amnestied and even given arrears of pay (Sanjurjo himself had already been released and allowed to live in Portugal)
  • The govt. quarreled with the Catalan Generalitat over the latters attempts to restore some protection to tenants
  • It alienated the Basques after failing to continue work on a Basque autonomy statute (already in preparation up to Nov 1933)

 

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fierce reaction from left

  • The CNT staged a rising in Aragon in December 1933 (put down in 4 days) together with a continuing strike movement (e.g. Zaragoza general strike March 1934)
  • The major new development on the Left, however, was the shift of the socialists and UGT towards a revolutionary position…under Largo Cabellero the UGT had grown by 1934 to 1,250,000 members, becoming a real rival to the CNT. The more revolutionary stance of the socialists (UGT) was seen in:
    1. Their promoting of continuing collectivization in the countryside in defiance of landowners and the authorities (whose attitude was rather weak, fearing another Casa Viejas)

Oct 1934 calling a general strike which became a really revolutionary movement in Madrid and Barcelona where failed risings took place…and in the Asturias region (around Oviedo and Gijón…an area of mines and iron works where both the CNT and UGT and the Communist Party formed a United Front (Frente Unico – 40,000 miners) capturing the whole Oviedo area except for the police and army garrison in the governor’s palace and arming themselves with 30,000 rifles and many machine guns from a local arms factory

 

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fierce reaction from left 2

The govt. sent in the army to recapture Oviedo with the young and able General Francisco Franco, an africanista, being given overall command of the operation. Shockingly for wary Spaniards Moorish troops were used in the 3 days of fighting…only 12 years earlier these tribesmen had massacred many Spanish soldiers in the Moroccan War. Large numbers of prisoners suffered summary (immediate) execution and a police torture squad was organized to find hidden arms caches.

 

 

 

 

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Consequences of the Oviedo rising

A revival of the left’s fortunes.

 

  • It showed the value of a United Front. The rising had shown the potential strength of the working class parties if they unite. The miners had strength in Asturia. Before the end of 1935 the Popular Front – a Left Republican/socialist/communist coalition that anarchist voters (although many abstained) would also back had been formed. The coalition was possible due to a change in Comintern policy).
  • The brutality of the suppression brought considerable public sympathy for the miners and others implicated in the unrest of Oct 1934. Death sentences passed by courts martial on the miners’ leaders were commuted to life imprisonment by Zamora, much to the disgust of the CEDA. Cabellero and Azaña were put on trial and acquitted for lack of evidence.
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Fall of the CEDA-Radical coalition

The radicals were crippled by a scandal that broke in the summer of 1935 in which senior figures were found to have taken bribes…including Ricardo Samper. Then at the end of 1935 they split with the CEDA after the latter blocked a small increase in death duties (from 1 to 3.5%). Since Zamora would not appoint Gil Robles PM (he was now convinced that Robles wanted to abolish parliament and institute a corporate state) a crisis ensued culminating in the dissolution of Parliament and elections fixed for Feb 1936.

 

Robles approached the army for support but General Franjul judged the time unsuitable for military intervention.

 

 

                       

 

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Fall of the CEDA-Radical coalition

The radicals were crippled by a scandal that broke in the summer of 1935 in which senior figures were found to have taken bribes…including Ricardo Samper. Then at the end of 1935 they split with the CEDA after the latter blocked a small increase in death duties (from 1 to 3.5%). Since Zamora would not appoint Gil Robles PM (he was now convinced that Robles wanted to abolish parliament and institute a corporate state) a crisis ensued culminating in the dissolution of Parliament and elections fixed for Feb 1936.

 

Robles approached the army for support but General Franjul judged the time unsuitable for military intervention.

 

 

                       

 

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