Second Spanish Republic - Segunda República Española

Spanish Republic

Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg


Flag of the national side 1936-1938.svg (1936)
Flag of Spain (1938–1945).svg (1939)
Flag of Spain (1931–1939).svg (1939)

Flag Shield
National motto : Plus Ultra
( Latin : 'Beyond')
National anthem : Irrigation Anthem
Ubicación de
Territories and colonies of Spain during the Second Republic
Capital Madrid [ a ]
Official language Castilian [ b ] [ c ]
government Republic
Republic President
• 1931-1936 Niceto Alcala-Zamora
• 1936 Diego Martínez Barrio (acting)
• 1936-1939 Manuel Azana
President of the National Defense Council
• 1939 José Miaja
Legislature Cortes
Historical period Interwar
Proclamation and abolition of the monarchy April 14, 1931
Constitution of 1931 December of 1931
Revolution of 1934 October of 1934
General elections of 1936 February of 1936
Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
Franco's victory April 1, 1939
Currency Peseta

The Second Republic Spanish was the regime democracy that existed in Spain between the 14 of April of 1931 , date of its proclamation , replacing the monarchy of Alfonso XIII , and 1 of April of 1939 , date of the end of the Civil War , that gave way to the Franco dictatorship.

After the period of the Provisional Government (April-December 1931), during which the Constitution of 1931 was approved and the first reforms began, the history of the Second Spanish Republic "in peace" (1931-1936) is usually divided into three stages. A first biennium (1931-1933) during which the republican-socialist coalition chaired by Manuel Azaña carried out various reforms that sought to modernize the country. A second biennium (1933-1935), called the radical-CEDista biennium, during which the right governed, with the Radical Republican Party of Alejandro Lerroux , supported from the parliament by the Catholic right of theSpanish Confederation of Autonomous Rights (CEDA), which sought to "rectify" the leftist reforms of the first biennium. During this biennium the most serious event of the period took place: the anarchist and socialist insurrection known as the 1934 Revolution , which in Asturias became a true social revolution and was finally put down by the Government with the intervention of the army. The third stage is marked by the triumph of the left-wing coalition known as the Popular Front in the general elections of 1936 , which was only able to govern in peace for five months because of thecoup d'état on July 17 and 18 promoted by a part of the Army that led to the Spanish civil war .

During the Second Spanish Republic at war (1936-1939) three governments succeeded one another: the one chaired by the left-wing republican José Giral , although during his short term (from July to September 1936) the real power was in the hands of hundreds of committees that were formed when the Spanish social revolution of 1936 broke out ; the next government was presided over by the socialist Francisco Largo Caballero , the leader of one of the two unions - the General Union of Workers (UGT), together with the National Labor Confederation (CNT) - that had led the revolution; and the third government was presided over by the also socialist Juan Negrín, as a consequence of the fall of Largo Caballero after the May Days , and that he governed until the beginning of March 1939, when the coup d'état of Colonel Casado took place that put an end to the republican resistance, giving way to the victory of the side revolted led by General Franco . From then on, the republic ceased to exist in Spanish territory; but its institutions remained in exile , since most of its members had fled Spain.


After the resignation of General Miguel Primo de Rivera in January 1930, Alfonso XIII tried to return the weakened monarchical regime to the constitutional and parliamentary path, despite the weakness of the dynastic parties. To do this, he appointed General Dámaso Berenguer as President of the Government , but he failed in his attempt to return to "constitutional normality." In February 1931, King Alfonso XIII put an end to the "soft dictatorship" of General Berenguer and offered the government to Alba (leader of the Liberal Party), but he refused, so he then handed it over to Sánchez Guerra , who was to the Modelo prison, where the participants of the Jaca uprising were imprisoned and offered them ministerial portfolios. Finally, the king appointed Admiral Juan Bautista Aznar as the new president , whose government of "monarchical concentration" was joined by old leaders of the liberal and conservative dynastic parties , such as the Count of Romanones , Manuel García Prieto , Gabriel Maura Gamazo (son of Antonio Maura ) and Gabino Bugallal . [ 1 ] The Government proposed a new electoral calendar: municipal elections would be held firston April 12, and later elections to Cortes that would have the character of Constituents , so they could proceed to the review of the powers of the Powers of the State and the precise delimitation of the area of ​​each one (that is, reduce the prerogatives of the Crown) and an adequate solution to the problem of Catalonia . [ 2 ]

Postal franchise of the Constituent Courts, 1931 .

The municipal elections of Sunday, April 12, 1931 yielded, at the time of the proclamation of the new regime, partial results of 22,150 monarchical councilors —of the traditional parties— and only 5,875 councilors for the different republican initiatives, leaving 52,000 seats. not yet determined. Despite the greater number of monarchical councilors, the elections supposed a wide defeat for the Crown in the urban centers: the republican current had triumphed in 41 provincial capitals. In Madrid , the republican councilors tripled the monarchists and, in Barcelona, they quadrupled. If the elections had been called as a test to weigh support for the monarchy and the possibilities of modifying the electoral law before the call for general elections , the supporters of the republic considered such results as a plebiscite in favor of its immediate establishment. The Marquis of Hoyos would go so far as to say that "the news from the important towns was, like those from the provincial capitals , disastrous." [ 3 ]Depending on the authors, there are different interpretations of the results. The reason why the results of the main urban centers represented the defeat of the monarchy can be found in that, in those nuclei, the vote was less adulterated, since the presence of caciques, supporters in their vast majority of the monarchy, was less. This gave evidence that the crown was completely discredited, since it had become too close to the dictatorial regime of Primo de Rivera . [ 4 ]

At 10:30 am on Monday, April 13, the president of the Council of Ministers, Juan Bautista Aznar-Cabañas , entered the Palacio de Oriente in Madrid to celebrate the Council of Ministers. Asked by reporters whether there would be government crisis, Aznar-Cabañas replied: [ 5 ]

What if there will be a crisis? What more crisis do you want than that of a country that lies down as a monarchist and wakes up as a republican?
Republican flag raised on the 77th anniversary of the proclamation of the republic in Éibar .

At the government meeting, the Minister of Public Works, Juan de la Cierva y Peñafiel , defended the resistance: "We must constitute a government of force, implant censorship and resist." Two other ministers support him: Gabino Bugallal , Count of Bugallal, and Manuel García Prieto , Marquis of Alhucemas. The rest of the ministers, headed by the count of Romanones , think that all is lost, especially when the hesitant responses of the captains general to the telegram sent hours before by the minister of war, General Dámaso Berenguer, are received. , and in which he has advised them to follow "the course imposed on them by the supreme national will." [5]

In the early hours of the morning of Tuesday, April 14, General Sanjurjo , director of the Civil Guard , goes to the house of Miguel Maura , where the members of the revolutionary committee who were not exiled in France, nor in hiding, are meeting: Niceto Alcalá-Zamora , Francisco Largo Caballero , Fernando de los Ríos , Santiago Casares Quiroga and Álvaro de Albornoz . As soon as they enter the house, General Sanjurjo stands before Maura and says: "At your orders, Mr. Minister." [ 5 ] For his part, King Alfonso XIIIHe asks the Count of Romanones , an old acquaintance of Niceto Alcalá-Zamora, to contact him so that, as president of the revolutionary committee , he can guarantee his peaceful departure from Spain and that of his family. At one-thirty in the afternoon, the interview takes place at the home of Dr. Gregorio Marañón , who had been the king's doctor and who now supported the Republican cause. The count of Romanones proposes to Alcalá-Zamora to create a kind of transitional government or even the abdication of the king in favor of the prince of Asturias. But Alcala-Zamora demands that the king leave the country "before the sun goes down." And he warns him: "If the republic has not been proclaimed before nightfall, the violence of the people can cause catastrophe."[5]

The monarch went into exile on the night of April 14, 1931; A few hours before his departure, a conspiratorial meeting of right-wing personalities was held at the home of the Count of Guadalhorce with the purpose of laying the foundations of a monarchical political party and, at the same time, trying to define a counterrevolutionary strategy that could overthrow the nascent democratic regime. [ 6 ] On April 16 the following manifesto was made public, drawn up on behalf of the king by the Duke of Maura , brother of the political leader Miguel Maura , and which on the 17th was only published by the newspaper ABC , on the front page, accompanied by a "Note from the Provisional Government":

The elections held on Sunday clearly reveal to me that I do not have the love of my people today. My conscience tells me that this detour will not be final, because I have always tried to serve Spain, with the sole concern of the public interest even in the most critical junctures. A King can be wrong, and without a doubt I once did; but I know well that our country was always generous in the face of guilt without malice.

I am the king of all Spaniards, and also a Spaniard. I would find more than enough means to maintain my royal prerogatives, in effective struggle with those who fight them. But, resolutely, I want to depart from whatever it is to throw one compatriot against another in a fratricidal civil war. I do not renounce any of my rights, because more than mine they are a deposit accumulated by History, of whose custody a rigorous account must one day ask me.
I hope to know the authentic and adequate expression of the collective conscience, and while the nation speaks, I deliberately suspend the exercise of Royal Power and withdraw from Spain , thus recognizing it as the only lady of its destiny.

Also now I believe that I am fulfilling the duty that my love for the country dictates to me. I ask God that the other Spaniards feel it as deeply as I do and that they fulfill it. [ 7 ]
Celebrations of the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in Barcelona , 1931 , extracted from the federal archives of Germany.

Alfonso XIII left the country without formally abdicating and moved to Paris , later establishing his residence in Rome . In January 1941 he abdicated in favor of his third son, Juan de Borbón . He died on February 28 of the same year.

The cities of Sahagún (León), Éibar (Guipúzcoa) and Jaca (Huesca) were the only three cities that proclaimed the republic one day before the official date, April 13, 1931. The Government of the Second Spanish Republic would grant them later the title of Illustrious Cities. The first city in which the tricolor flag was raised was Éibar , at 6.30 in the morning of April 14, and in the afternoon of that same day it was followed by the main Spanish capitals, including Valencia , Barcelona and Madrid , in those that the republican candidacies obtained very comfortable majorities.

The Eibar writer Toribio Echeverría recalls, in his book Journey through the country of memories , the proclamation of the Second Republic in Eibar in this way:

... and before six o'clock in the morning the people had gathered in the square that was to be called the Republic, and the councilors elected on Sunday, for their part, having presented themselves at the Town Hall with the intention of asserting his investiture from that moment, they were constituted in solemn session, agreeing unanimously to proclaim the Republic. Immediately afterwards, the tricolor flag was raised on the central balcony of the town hall, and Juan de los Toyos told the assembled people from him that from that hour we Spaniards were living in the Republic . ( Toribio Echeverría , Journey through the country of memories )

Constitution of 1931

Cover of a copy of the Constitution of the Second Republic.
Fundamental principles of the 1931 Constitution
  1. Principle of equality of the Spanish before the law, proclaiming Spain as "a republic of workers of all kinds."
  2. Principle of secularism, by which it went beyond the mere separation between the Church and the State to enter a field of total elimination of religion from political life. Recognition, likewise, of civil marriage and divorce.
  3. The principle of election and mobility of all public offices, including the head of state.
  4. The principle of unicamerality , which supposed the elimination of a second aristocratic Chamber or of privileged estates and by which the legislative power would be exercised by a single Chamber .
  5. The possibility of carrying out a forced expropriation of any type of property, in exchange for compensation, for social use was foreseen, as well as the possibility of nationalizing public services.
  6. Comprehensive declaration of rights and freedoms. He granted the vote from the age of 23 with universal suffrage (also female since the 1933 elections).

After the proclamation of the republic, a provisional government chaired by Niceto Alcalá-Zamora took power from April 14 to October 14, 1931, the date on which he resigned for his opposition to the way in which secularism was collected. of the State in article 26 of the new Constitution, being replaced by Manuel Azaña . On December 10, 1931, Niceto Alcalá-Zamora was elected president of the Republic, by 362 votes of the 410 deputies present (the Chamber was composed of 446 deputies). In this position he remained until April 7, 1936, when the new majority of the Cortes of the Popular Fronthe dismissed him for having called general elections twice in the same term, which could be considered an excess of his prerogatives, being replaced by Manuel Azaña .

The Parliament resulting from the constituent elections of June 28, 1931 had the mission of drawing up and approving a constitution on December 9 of the same year.

The Republican Constitution represented a notable advance in the recognition and defense of human rights by the Spanish legal system and in the democratic organization of the State: it dedicated almost a third of its articles to collecting and protecting individual and social rights and freedoms, it expanded the the right to active and passive suffrage for citizens - of both sexes as of 1933 - over 23 years of age and the legislative power resided in the town, which exercised it through a unicameral body that received the name of Cortes or Congress of the Deputies . In addition, it established that the head of state henceforth it would be elected by a college made up of deputies and delegates, who in turn were appointed in general elections.

Symbols of the new state

Allegory of the Spanish Republic by Teodoro Andreu (1931)

The history of the tricolor flag responds to an essentially popular sentiment. The purple had been used by the liberal movements and, later, progressive or exalted since the times of the Liberal Triennium (1820-1823) due to the influence of the myth of the purple banner of Castile , which defended that the commoners of the sixteenth raised a banner of such color against Carlos I for his policy of giving Flemish menthe most important posts in the Castilian administration. Be that as it may, in 1931 the color purple or violet had a kind of popular tradition, which led to its definitive inclusion in the new national flag, in an improvised start to differentiate the new regime that began after the April 12 voting in its most necessary symbols.

The union of red, yellow and purple in three bands of equal size is made official in the decree of April 27, 1931:

Article 2.º: Flags and banners ... will be made up of three horizontal bands of equal width, the upper one being red, the central one yellow, and the lower one dark purple. In the center of the yellow band will appear the shield of Spain, by adopting such that on the back of five pesetas coins minted by the Provisional Government in 1869 and 1870. [ 8 ]

It was endorsed with the first article of the Constitution 31. The decree including the Castilian traditional color to the Aragonese clarified: "Today the adopted national flag is folded in the middle of the century xix. The two colors are preserved from it and a third is added that tradition admits as the insignia of an illustrious region, the nerve of nationality, with which the emblem of the Second Spanish Republic, thus formed, more accurately sums up the harmony of a great Spain ». In the same decree the new meaning of the tricolor was explained: “The Republic shelters everyone. Also the flag, which means peace, collaboration between citizens under the rule of just laws. It means even more: the fact, new in the history of Spain, that the action of the State has no other motive than the interest of the country, nor any other rule than respect for conscience, freedom and work.

25 cents peseta, 1934

The origins of this new brand date back to 1820. In that year General Riego , after "reproclaiming" the Constitution of Cádiz in Las Cabezas de San Juan, provoked for a short period of time - barely three years - the liberal opening of the regime by Fernando VII . During this period the National Militia was founded , to which purple flags with the shield of Castilla y León were assigned . This currency did not last long, since that same year it was replaced by another red-yellow with the motto "Constitution" in its central strip.

In 1823 the return of Fernando VII to absolutism also ended with the National Militia itself. In 1843, under the reign of Elizabeth II , the unification of the national flag was decreed for the first time, on October 13. In said regulatory decree, regiments that previously had purple flags were allowed to wear three ties - the cords that hang from the upper ends of the flags - with the colors red, yellow and purple. This is the main antecedent of the tricolor.

After the exile of Isabel II, the Provisional Government of 1868-1871 changed the monarchical shield replacing him the royal crown by the mural and removing the escusón of Bourbon-Anjou . The republican shield will follow the model of that of that period. The brief reign of Amadeo I concluded with the proclamation of the First Republic . The flag projected during this regime emulated the revolutionary colors of France : red, white and blue, a modification that was not carried out due to its short duration [ citation needed ] and, with the Restoration, the flag recovered its elements from 1843.

Republican one peseta coin minted in 1934.

During the Restoration, the Federal Party adopted the colors of the National Militia of 1820 as a symbol of the anti-dynastic faction and rejection of the established system. The tricolor began to be seen in casinos, newspapers and Republican affiliation centers. Such was the strong link between these colors with the idea of ​​republicanism, change and progress, during the reign of Alfonso XII , the regency of María Cristina , the reign of Alfonso XIII and the dictatorships of Primo de Rivera and Berenguer, that, in a burst of spontaneity, once the first results of the votes of April 12, 1931 were known, especially in Madrid, the people took to the streets wearing badges, cockades and flags with the three colors.

For it, the shield chosen in 1868 by the Provisional Government of 1868-1871 was adapted: the barracks of Castilla , León , Aragon and Navarra , with Granada pointed, stamped by a mural crown and between the two columns of Hercules . As a novelty, its smaller size stands out, the same measure for the three stripes and the golden fringes in the contour of those belonging to the army. Coins were also minted with the new shield.

Irrigation Hymn
Rural song proposed in 1931

Similarly, an attempt was made to choose as the national anthem the one popularly known for much of the nineteenth century as the Irrigation Hymn , replacing the official one until then, the Royal March . However, despite popular belief, it was never officially the anthem of the Republic; In 1931, shortly after its proclamation, a great controversy was organized about its validity as a national anthem in which numerous politicians, intellectuals and musicians intervened: among others, an article by Pío Baroja against it was famous, since he considered it too street and inappropriate for the ideals of the new regime. Perhaps in response to those complaints, the famous composer Óscar Esplá , together with the Andalusian poetManuel Machado , proposed a totally new hymn, the Rural Song to the Spanish Republic , which was finally rejected. [ citation required ]

Social and economic context

Main cities of the Second Spanish Republic (1930 census)
Position Town Population
1.ª Barcelona 1 005 565
2.ª Madrid 952 832
3.ª Valencia 320 195
4.ª Sevilla 228 729
5.ª Málaga 188 010
6.ª Zaragoza 173 987
7.ª Bilbao 161 987
8.ª Murcia 158 724
9.ª Granada 118 179
10.ª Córdoba 103 106

The Republic's intentions were met with the stark reality of a world economy plunged into the Great Depression , from which the world did not recover until after World War II . In terms of social forces, the Second Republic arose because the Army officers did not support the king, with whom they were upset for having accepted the resignation of Primo de Rivera , and a climate of growing demand for freedoms, rights for workers and rising unemployment rates, which in some cases resulted in street clashes, anarchist revolts, assassinations by extremist groups on one side or the other, military coups and revolutionary strikes.

Distribution of the Spanish population in 1930.

In Spain, the political upheaval also took on a particular aspect, the Church being a frequent target of the revolutionary left, which saw in the privileges they enjoyed one more cause of the social unrest that was being lived, which often resulted in burning and destruction of churches . The conservative right , also deeply rooted in the country, felt deeply offended by these acts and saw the good position it enjoyed increasingly endangered in the face of the growing influence of the revolutionary left groups.. From the point of view of international relations, the Second Republic suffered severe isolation, as foreign investment groups pressured the governments of their countries of origin not to support the new regime, fearful that the socialist tendencies that were gaining importance within it, they will end up imposing a policy of nationalization on their businesses in Spain. To understand this, it is clarifying to know that the Telephone company was a monopoly owned by the North American International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), that the railwaysand its operators were mainly in the hands of French capital, while the electricity companies and trams in the cities belonged to different companies (mostly British and Belgian). As a consequence, there was not a single nationalization during the Republican period, but nevertheless the backing of the fascist powers encouraged many conservative generals to plan military insurrections and coups. His intentions would materialize first in the " La Sanjurjada " of 1932 and in the failed coup of 1936, the uncertain outcome of which led to the Spanish civil war.. For their part, western democracies did not support the republican regime for fear of an armed confrontation, except in very specific circumstances, which ultimately did not serve to prevent World War II .

50 cent coin from 1937 minted in copper

Spanish society in the 1930s was fundamentally rural: 45.5% of the workforce was employed in agriculture , while the rest was divided equally between industry and the service sector . These figures describe a society that had not yet experienced the Industrial Revolution . Regarding unions and political parties, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), whose list was the most voted for the 1931 constituent elections, had 23,000 members; Its sister organization, the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) union , had 200,000 members in 1922; the anarchist unionNational Confederation of Labor (CNT) had some 800,000 members in September 1931. Other organizations, such as the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) had a nominal presence and did not gain strength until the beginning of the Civil War. Regarding nationalisms, the Regionalist League of Catalonia , led by Francesc Cambó had openly supported the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera , and for this reason remained on the margins of politics during the Republic, while other Catalan political parties, more inclined towards the the left or the independence movement were the ones that had the greatest role; in the case of the Basque Country and NavarraIt is worth mentioning that the rupture between the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and the Traditionalist Communion (CT), the latter made up of the Carlists , had not yet been consummated .

Regarding the initiatives of socioeconomic change of the republican governments, it is worth highlighting the increases in the wages of farm workers carried out during the social-Azanista biennium, then invested during the radical-cedista biennium, aimed at improving living conditions in rural areas. Other initiatives were the land occupations and illegal expropriations in the initial moments of the Civil War as a way to obtain income and popular support from the peasantry.

The Republican Finance Ministers, without ideological distinctions, considered the budget deficit as one of the most urgent problems to be solved, together with the depreciation of the peseta, to face the economic problems of Spain. Participating, like their contemporaries, of the principles of classical orthodoxy in public finance, they tried to achieve budgetary balance, considering that the financial activity of the public sector should not harm private consumption and investment. [ 9 ]

Stages of the Republic

Provisional Government or constituent period (April-December 1931)

Niceto Alcalá-Zamora , first president of the Provisional Government

The Provisional Government of the Second Spanish Republic held political power in Spain from the fall of the monarchy of Alfonso XIII and the proclamation of the republic on April 14, 1931 until the approval of the 1931 Constitution on December 9 and the formation of the first ordinary government on December 15. Until 15 October 1931 the provisional government was chaired by Niceto Alcala-Zamora , and following the resignation of this because of the wording that had been given to the Article 26 of the Constitution was the religious question , succeeded Manuel Azana to the in front ofgovernment .

But the Republican-Socialist coalition came to power not in the best of times possible. The economic depression that hit Europe and the United States , although less profound in Spain, did affect construction and small complementary industries. Consequently, unemployment increased in the cities, and indirectly underemployment in the countryside increased, since day laborers could no longer the cities where work was scarce again. The feeling of insecurity of the workers who had jobs also grew. Furthermore, the economic crisis coincided with the enormous expectations for a better life that the change in the political regime had enlightened among the popular sectors, between workers and peasants , before the republic had time to establish and spread a democratic political culture . It was in these circumstances of economic crisis and growing popular expectations that the Republican-Socialist coalition began to govern. [ 10 ]

Public order policy

On April 15, the Madrid Gazette publishes a decree establishing the legal Statute of the Provisional Government, which was the superior legal norm by which the Provisional Government was governed until the approval of the new Constitution and in which it proclaims itself as a «Government of plenary sessions powers ». The most controversial aspect of the "Legal Statute" is the contradiction observed in the question of freedoms and citizen rights, since its recognition is accompanied by the possibility of its suspension by the Government, without judicial intervention, "if the health of the Republic, in the government's opinion, claims it. " [ 11 ] This contradictory policy of the republic regarding public order culminated in the approval by theConstituent Courts of the Law of Defense of the Republic of October 21, 1931 that endowed the Provisional Government with an instrument of exception outside the courts of justice to act against those who commit "acts of aggression against the Republic", constituting, even after the approval of the 1931 Constitution , in "the fundamental norm in the configuration of the legal regime of public liberties during almost two years of republican regime" in which it was in force (until August 1933). [ 12 ]Spending on Citizen Security (Police and Civil Guard) experienced a very important growth during the Governments of the Second Republic, with an average annual increase of 14%. Edward Malefakis [ 13 ] , referring to the “enormous increase in police forces that occurred during the first year of the Republic”, details that the Civil Guard, which had some 26,500 members during the decade prior to the change of regime, increased its effective up to 27,817. To which was added the new body of Assault Guards, which in 1932 numbered 11,698 policemen.

The "regional question"

The most immediate problem that the Provisional Government had to face was the proclamation of the Catalan Republic made by Francesc Macià in Barcelona on the same day April 14. Three days later, three ministers of the Provisional Government met in Barcelona with Francesc Macià, reaching an agreement by which the Republican Esquerra of Catalonia resigned from the Catalan Republic in exchange for the commitment of the Provisional Government that it would present in the future Constituent Courts the statute of autonomy decided by Catalonia, previously "approved by the Assembly of Catalan City Councils", and the recognition of the Catalan Government that it would cease to be called the Government Council of the Catalan Republic, to take the nameGovernment of the Generalitat of Catalonia thus recovering "the name of glorious tradition" of the centennial institution of the principality that was abolished by Felipe V in the Nueva Planta decrees of 1714. [ 14 ] The draft statute for Catalonia, called the Statute of Nuria was endorsed on August 3 by the people of Catalonia by an overwhelming majority, [ 15 ] but it responded to a federal model of the State.and it went beyond what had been approved in the 1931 Constitution in terms of denomination and powers (since the "integral State" responded to a unitary, not federal, conception), although it conditioned the parliamentary debates of the "integral State" , which was finally approved. [ 16 ]

In the case of the Basque Country, the process to obtain a statute of autonomy began almost at the same time as that of Catalonia. An assembly of the Basque-Navarrese city councils meeting in Estella on June 14 approved a statute that was based on the reestablishment of the Basque fueros abolished by the Law of 1839, together with the Law of Navarre Paced in 1841. [ 17 ] The Statute of Estella It was presented on September 22, 1931 to the Constituent Courts, but it was not taken into consideration because the project was clearly outside the Constitution that was being approved, among other things, due to its federalist conception and the declaration ofconfessionalism of the «Basque State». [ 18 ]

The "religious question"

The first decisions of the Provisional Government on the secularization of the State were very moderate. In Article 3 of the Legal Statute of the Provisional Government , freedom of worship was proclaimed and in the following three weeks the Government approved some secularizing measures, such as the decree of May 6 declaring religious teaching voluntary. [ 19 ] On April 24, the nuncio Federico Tedeschinisent a telegram to all the bishops in which he conveyed to them the "wish of the Holy See" that they "recommend that the priests, religious and faithful of their diocese respect the constituted powers and obeys [cese] to them for the maintenance of order and for the common good ». [ 20 ] Along with the nuncio, the other member of the ecclesiastical hierarchy who embodied this conciliatory attitude towards the republic was the Cardinal Archbishop of Tarragona Francisco Vidal y Barraquer . [ 21 ] However, a large sector of the episcopate was composed of fundamentalist bishopsthat they were not willing to compromise with the republic which they considered a disgrace, and whose visible head was the Cardinal Primate and Archbishop of Toledo, Pedro Segura . This, on May 1, published a pastoral in which, after addressing the Spanish situation in a catastrophic tone, he made a grateful praise of the monarchy and the dethroned monarch Alfonso XIII, “who, throughout his reign, knew preserve the ancient tradition of faith and piety of their elders. [ 22 ] The press and republican parties interpreted the pastoral as a kind of declaration of war on the Republic, and the Provisional Government presented a note of "serene and energetic" protest to the Nuncio.and asked that he be removed from his post. [ 23 ]

Cardinal Pedro Segura

Ten days later the events known as the burning of convents took place , whose trigger was the incidents that occurred on Sunday, May 10, on the occasion of the inauguration in Madrid of the Independent Monarchical Circle, [ 24 ] during which the rumor spread through the city that a republican taxi driver had been assassinated by royalists. A crowd then gathered in front of the headquarters of the monarchical newspaper ABC , where the Civil Guard had to intervene, shooting at those who were trying to assault and burn the building, causing several injuries and two deaths, one of them a child. [ 25 ]In the early hours of the following day, Monday, May 11, when the provisional government was in session, the news reached him that the Jesuit House of Professed was on fire. The Minister of the Interior, Miguel Maura, tried to take the Civil Guard out to the streets to restore order, but he encountered opposition from the rest of the cabinet and especially from Manuel Azaña , who, according to Maura, even stated that "all the convents of Madrid are not worth the life of a republican "and threatened to resign" if there is a single injured in Madrid for that stupidity. [ 26 ]The inaction of the government allowed the rebels to burn more than a dozen religious buildings. In the afternoon, at last, the Government declared a state of war in Madrid and as the troops occupied the capital, the fires stopped. The following day, Tuesday May 12, while Madrid recovered its calm, the burning of convents and other religious buildings spread to other towns in the east and south of the peninsula (the most serious events occurred in Malaga). [ 27 ] Around a hundred religious buildings burned partially or totally throughout Spain, and several people died and others were injured during the incidents. [ 28 ]

The Provisional Government's response to the burning of convents was to suspend the publication of the Catholic newspaper El Debate and the monarchical ABC , [ 29 ] and also agreed to the expulsion from Spain on May 17 of the fundamentalist bishop of Vitoria Mateo Múgica , for refusing to suspend the pastoral trip that he planned to make to Bilbao , where the Government feared that on the occasion of his visit there would be incidents between the Carlists and the clerical Basque nationalists , and the republicans and anti-clerical socialists . [ 30 ]It also approved some measures aimed at ensuring the separation of Church and State without waiting for the meeting of the Constituent Courts, such as the one that ordered the removal of crucifixes from classrooms where there were students who did not receive religious education. [ 31 ]

The Catholic Church criticized all these secularist measures , but again the most radical reaction came from Cardinal Segura who on June 3 in Rome, where he had been since May 12, published a pastoral in which "the most painful impression was collected that it had produced certain governmental dispositions ". [ 32 ] When Cardinal Segura unexpectedly returned to Spain on June 11, he was arrested by order of the government and on June 15 he was expelled from the country. [ 33 ]

Two months later there was a new incident that further clouded the relations of the Republic and the Catholic Church and in which Cardinal Segura was once again the protagonist. On August 17, among the documentation seized from the vicar of Vitoria , Justo Echeguren, who had been detained three days earlier at the Spanish-French border by the police, there were instructions from Cardinal Segura to all the dioceses in which he was empowered to the bishops to sell ecclesiastical property in case of need and in which the transfer by the Church of its real estate to lay people and the placement of movable property in foreign debt securities was advised, all this to avoid a possible expropriation by part of the State. [ 34] The immediate response of the Provisional Government was the publication on August 20 of a decree in which the powers of sale and alienation of property and rights of all kinds of the Catholic Church andreligious orderswere suspended. [ 35 ]

The "military question"

The two main objectives of Manuel Azana's military reform were to try to achieve a more modern and efficient army, and to subordinate "military power" to civil power. One of his first decrees, of April 22, forced the chiefs and officers to pledge allegiance to the Republic. [ 36 ]To try to solve one of the problems that the Spanish army had, which was the excessive number of officers, chiefs and generals, the Provisional Government at the proposal of Azaña approved on April 25, 1931 a decree of extraordinary withdrawals in which it was offered to Army officers who so request the possibility of voluntarily withdrawing from active service with full salary. Almost 9000 commanders (including 84 generals) took up the measure, approximately 40% of the officers, and thanks to this Azaña was able to subsequently undertake the reorganization of the Army. [ 37 ]Another issue that Azaña addressed was the controversial issue of promotions, promulgating decrees in May and June that annulled a large part of those produced during the Dictatorship for "war merits", which meant that some 300 soldiers lost one or two degrees, and that others suffered a sharp decline in the ranks, as in the case of General Francisco Franco . [ 38 ] Azaña's military reform was harshly fought by a sector of the officers, by conservative political media and by the military expression organs La Correspondencia Militar and Ejército y Armada . Manuel Azaña was accused of wanting to "crush" the Army. [ 39 ]

Regarding the second objective of Manuel Azaña's military reform , to "civilize" political life by putting an end to military interventionism by returning the military to barracks, the most important measure was to repeal the Jurisdictions Law of 1906 (which during the monarchy had placed under military jurisdiction civilians accused of crimes against the fatherland or the Army). [ 38 ] However, the repeal of the Jurisdictions Law did not mean that the Republic ceased to use military jurisdiction for the maintenance of public order without resorting to the suspension of constitutional guarantees or declaring a state of emergency. . [ 40 ]The military power continued to occupy a good part of the organs of the State administration related to public order, from the police headquarters, the Civil Guard (whose character as a militarized body was maintained) and the Assault Guard (the Assault Guard). new public order force created by the Republic), up to the General Directorate of Security. [ 41 ]

The "agrarian question"

One of the most urgent problems that the Provisional Government had to solve in the spring of 1931 was the serious situation suffered by the day laborers , especially in Andalusia and Extremadura , where the previous winter had exceeded 100,000 unemployed and abuses in the hiring and low wages kept them destitute. [ 42 ] Thus, to alleviate the situation of day laborers in the southern half of Spain, the Provisional Government approved, at the proposal of the Minister of Labor, Francisco Largo Caballero , seven agrarian decrees of the Provisional Governmentthat had an enormous impact, especially the Municipal Terms Decree, of April 20, 1931, which gave the unions greater control of the labor market, by preventing the hiring of day laborers from outside the municipality until those of the town, [ 43 ] and the decree of Mixed Juries, of May 7, which created these bodies made up of 6 employers, 6 workers and 1 secretary appointed by the Ministry of Labor to regulate working conditions in the countryside. Thanks to these decrees the wages of the agricultural season experienced substantial increases (from 3.5 pesetas they went to exceed 5 pesetas a day).

The application of the agrarian decrees of the Provisional Government proposed by the socialist minister Largo Caballero met with the lively opposition of the owners who relied on the municipalities, mostly monarchical, and on the use of the Civil Guard to confront the representatives of the National Federation of Workers of the Earth ( FNTT ) of the UGT and the Socialist Houses of the Town , that functioned as headquarters of the unionized workers of the different localities. Thus "in the towns and villages, inevitably, the first weeks of the Republic provoked a certain atmosphere of class warfare." [ 44 ]Not only did the Agrarian Reform Institute (IRA) receive clearly insufficient public funding for the proclaimed objectives of peasant settlement, but also its budget management of what it received was notably inefficient. Malefakis [ 45 ] is surprised that, having received State subsidies from the IRA for 158 million pesetas, at the end of 1935 it had 96 million pending to use (60%), especially when most of the lands obtained had not had to be expropriated, for belonging to the Greatness. In Malefakis's opinion [ 46 ]In the Spanish republican left, with an urban base and a European vocation, its anticlerical, antimilitarist and antimonarchical orientation historically prevailed and did not become deeply involved in agrarian reform. They were aware of the revolutionary implications of the Agrarian Reform Law and feared that an excessively rapid application of it would produce massive resistance from the owners or chaotic assaults on large properties.

The "social question"

Largo Caballero also undertook a reform of labor relations that consisted of creating a legal framework that would regulate them, strengthening the power of the unions , especially the UGT (a socialist union of which Largo Caballero was one of its leaders), in the negotiation of the employment contracts and in the monitoring of their compliance. [ 47 ]

The two basic pieces of the project were the Labor Contract Law and the Mixed Jury Law, laws passed under the presidency of Manuel Azaña . The Labor Contract Law, of November 21, 1931, regulated collective agreements (negotiated by representatives of employers and unions for a minimum period of two years and binding both parties) and dictated the conditions of suspension and termination of contracts. Furthermore, it established for the first time the right to paid vacations (seven days a year) and protected the right to strike which, under certain conditions, could not be grounds for dismissal. [ 48 ]For its part, the Mixed Jury Law, dated November 27, 1931, extended the mixed jury system (approved in May for the agricultural sector) to industry and services . Its composition was the same and its mission was also: to mediate in labor disputes establishing a conciliatory opinion in each case. [ 48 ]

The Provisional Government hoped that these measures would reduce the number of strikes, but social peace did not occur because of the incidence of the economic recession, and above all because of the CNT's refusal to use the official conciliation mechanisms, which it identified with the corporatism of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship . [ 49 ] The CNT radically opposed the labor contract law and mixed juries and took direct action to achieve a monopoly on labor bargaining by other means. [ 50 ] The businessmen also opposedbecause they were not willing to accept the decisions of the Mixed Juries when they benefited the workers. [ 51 ]


  • April 14: after the municipal elections the Second Republic is proclaimed in Spain and the Revolutionary Committee that emerged from the Pact of San Sebastián becomes the Provisional Government. [ 52 ] Several dozen members of the Socialist Youth are deployed in the Palacio de Oriente to guarantee the safety of the royal family, still inside. [ 52 ] Upon learning of the results, Francesc Macià proclaims the Catalan State and invites the other regions to organize a federal State, although shortly afterwards he will collaborate with Madrid prioritizing the stability of the new regime. [ 52 ]The financial world welcomed regime change badly. A private Dutch loan of sixty million dollars granted to the last government of the monarchy was canceled, there was a capital flight and the price of the peseta depreciated by 20% during the first month of the Republic. Indalecio Prieto , Minister of Finance, threatened with fines and confiscations to those involved in capital flight, negotiated the purchase of foreign currency and closed a gasoline purchase agreement with the Soviet Union at a price ostensibly cheaper than those offered by the British and American companies. [ 52 ]
  • April 28: the Provisional Government issues its first important decree aimed at combating agricultural unemployment. The reforms, promoted by Francisco Largo Caballero , would continue in the following months with the opposition of the majority of mayors and landowners, affectionate to the monarchy. [ 52 ]
  • May 1: the clergy are divided in their compliance with the republican regime between those who recommend obedience to the authorities (but without recognizing the republic as a legitimate government) and those who are openly hostile, such as Cardinal Segura , Cardinal Primate of Toledo, who antilaicista launches a diatribe in his pastoral of 1 May 1931. [ 52 ]
  • May 6: religious education in public school is no longer compulsory, it becomes voluntary. [ 52 ]
  • May 10: causing great controversy, the Círculo Monárquico is inaugurated in Madrid. Faced with rumors that an exalted royalist [ 53 ] had murdered a taxi driver who refused to shout "Long live the King" , a group of people provoked an altercation at the gates of said institution. [ 52 ]
  • May 11: about twenty-four convents, schools and Catholic centers nationwide are burned. [ 52 ]
  • May 12: the events of the previous day ruin Prieto's efforts to reactivate the Dutch loan. Consequently, deposits are made with the Bank of France. [ 52 ]
  • May 13: the government declares Cardinal Primate Pedro Segura persona non grata as a provocateur and for his criticism of the system directed at the faithful. [ 52 ]
  • May 22: the government proclaims religious freedom. [ 52 ] In addition, it is decreed that the Ministry of Public Instruction is free to remove the works of art kept in the religious buildings if it is considered that they are in danger of being damaged. [ 52 ]
  • May 26: Azaña begins the reform of the Army. The number of divisions is reduced from 16 to eight; compulsory military service is limited to one year. In addition, the rank of captain general is eliminated; the captaincies were an institution with the ability to take over the government in situations of tension. The functions of the division generals would be reduced to strictly military ones and an attempt would be made to reduce the number of officers from 26,000 to 8,300. To achieve this, those officers who voluntarily resigned would be offered retirement with full pay, something that was seen by the high command as a bribe even though the necessity of the reform was understood. However, thousands of officers accepted the measure. [ 52 ]
  • May 29: by decree of the Minister of Public Instruction, Marcelino Domingo , the Patronage of Pedagogical Missions is created , in order to "spread general culture, modern teaching guidance and civic education in villages, towns and places, with special attention to the spiritual interests of the population. A Central Commission in Madrid, in collaboration with the University of Madrid and other commissions created for this purpose in the provinces, will organize, among many other activities, film and theater sessions and the circulation of mobile libraries in the most remote towns of the Spanish geography. [ 54 ]
  • June 3: the Spanish bishops protest before the Prime Minister for his claim to separate Church and State. [ 52 ]

Spanish general elections , June 28 , 1931

Match Seats % Esc. Dif.
Socialist Party (PSOE) 115 24,5 -
Radical Republican Party (PRR) 94 20,2 -
Republican Radical Socialist Party (PRRS) 59 12,5 -
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) 31 6,5 -
Republican Action 28 5,9 -
Agrarios (predecessors of the Agrarian Party ) 26 5,5 -
Progressive 22 4,6 -
Federalists 17 3,6 -
Galician Republican Federation 16 3,4 -
Basque-Navarrese 15 3,2 -
Grouping at the Service of the Republic 13 2,8 -
Regionalist League 4 0,8 -
Socialist Union of Catalonia 4 0,8 -
Catalan Republican Party 2 0,4 -
Liberal Democratic Party 2 0,4 -
Galician Republicans 1 0,2 -
Liberal monarchists 1 0,2 -
Independent 20 4,2 -
TOTAL 470 100,00 -
  • August 3: the draft Statute of Catalonia is approved in a referendum with 75% participation and practically all votes in favor.
  • September 22: the project of the Basque Statute , supported by the Carlist and Basque nationalists, is rejected in the Constituent Courts for exceeding the constitutional limits.
The Constituent Cortes of 1931 (seats per party).

First biennium or social-azañista biennium (1931-1933)

The first biennium of the Second Spanish Republic or social-azañista biennium , also known as reformist biennium or transformative biennium , constitutes the stage of the Second Republic in which the coalition government of left-wing republicans and socialists chaired by Manuel Azaña , formed On December 15, 1931, after the 1931 Constitution was approved and after the Radical Republican Party rejected its participation in it for disagreeing with the continuity in the government of the Socialists, it deepened the reforms initiated by the Provisional Government.whose purpose is to modernize the Spanish economic, social, political and cultural reality. The new government was formed after the election of Niceto Alcalá Zamora as President of the Republic, who confirmed Manuel Azaña as Prime Minister.

But the whole wide range of reforms met with great resistance from the social and corporate groups that the reforms tried to "dismount" from their acquired positions: landowners, big businessmen, financiers and employers, the Catholic Church , religious orders. , Catholic opinion, monarchical opinion, "Africanist" militarism . [ 58 ] And there was also a resistance to republican reformism of the opposite sign: that of extreme revolutionaryism, led by anarchist organizations (the CNT and the FAI ) and a sector of socialism, the one linked to the UGT union . For them the republic represented the "bourgeois order" (without too many differences with the previous political regimes, dictatorship and monarchy ) that had to be destroyed in order to achieve " libertarian communism ", according to the former, or " socialism ", according to the latter. [ 59 ]

The "religious question" and educational policy

As of the approval of the Constitution of 1931, the republican-socialist government promulgated a series of decrees and presented laws for approval by the Courts that would make the non - denominational state effective and that would allow it to assume those administrative and social functions that it Catholic Church had played until then. The first measure it took was the Decree of January 23, 1932, which complied with the provisions of Article 26 of the Constitution: the dissolution of the Jesuit order and the nationalization of most of its assets (schools and residences, especially), which came to be managed by a Board of Trustees. [60]

Fulfilling another constitutional mandate, seven days later, the decree of January 30, 1932 secularized the cemeteries , which became the property of the municipalities . [ 61 ] A few days later, on February 2, 1932, the Courts approved the divorce law . [ 62 ]

The moment of greatest confrontation between the government of Azaña and the Catholic Church was due to the Law of Confessions and Religious Congregations, whose debate in the Cortes took place in the first months of 1933. The Spanish cardinals and bishops, led by the new Cardinal Primate Isidro Gomá and Tomás , published an episcopal letter that considered the law " a harsh outrage to the divine rights of the Church " and in which they called for the mobilization of Catholics. On June 3, the day after the law was promulgated, an encyclical by Pope Pius XI ( Dilectissima Nobis ) was published. [ 63 ]In which he condemned the "anti-Christian spirit" of the Spanish regime, affirming that the Congregations law "can never be invoked against the imprescriptible rights of the Church."

What the law of Congregations did was develop articles 26 and 27 of the Constitution: it regulated Catholic public worship; abolished the endowment of "worship and clergy" of the state; it nationalized part of the ecclesiastical patrimony (temples, monasteries , seminaries , etc.) although they remained at the disposal of the Church; and finally it established the closure of the centers of Catholic education secondary for October 1 and primary by 31 December 1933. [ 64 ]

Educational policy

One of the priorities of the Provisional Government had already been the construction of public primary schools, to put an end to one of the scourges of Spanish society, the still high illiteracy (in 1931 the estimates ranged between 30 and 50% of the population total). It was estimated that to serve the more than 1.5 million children who were out of school, the State would need to build some 27,000 new schools, at a rate of 5,000 each year. At the end of 1932 the Minister of Public Instruction, the socialist Fernando de los Ríos, informed the Courts that almost 10,000 schools had been built or enabled, but the planned plan could not be fulfilled due to lack of resources due to the fall in revenue from the Public Treasury due to the economic depression and the policy of budgetary balance decided by the government. [ 65 ]

The needs of state primary schools increased even more when the Congregations law was approved that had established the closure of religious primary schools for December 31, 1933, and the calculation that the ministry had made was that to serve the 350 000 children from these schools would need to be built in a hurry about 7000 more schools. [ 66 ]

In the summer of 1933 the Azana government launched "the most remarkable of its educational experiments": the pedagogical missions . It was an initiative of the art critic Manuel Bartolomé Cossío , linked to the Institución Libre de Enseñanza , who wanted to bring "the breath of progress" to the most isolated and backward peoples of Spain. Thus, professors and students, most of them from the University of Madrid , went to the villages with reproductions of famous paintings and with records and films, and on improvised stages they represented plays by Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca.. They also carried books and medicines and helped build schools. The theater group La Barraca , created by Federico García Lorca, also participated in this project . [ 67 ]

An example of the government's decisive determination in educational policy was the increase in the budgets of the Ministry of Education, although on many occasions they were insufficient. The promotion of coeducation , in addition to the fact that religion ceased to be a compulsory subject, exacerbated the confrontation with the Church. There were also interesting projects in the educational field, counting on the antecedent of the work of the Free Institution of Education and the Board for the Expansion of Studies (modernization of the University, expansion of the centers and high school students) and important achievements in the field. cultural (mobile libraries, pedagogical missions). It was, therefore, the most determined action in the history of the country until then to improve Spanish education. And this was not only in investments, but also trying to introduce pedagogical improvements and giving way to new trends in this matter.

Hospitals, the soldier's home, were a priority for the Popular Culture policy after the outbreak of the war, without neglecting trade unions and anti-fascist political organizations

The library policy coordinated by Teresa Andrés Zamora , brought public reading and the Popular Culture libraries to the organizations of the popular front and, with the outbreak of war, took them to the trenches and hospitals, as well as to schools and town halls. . It remained active until the last moment when all the personnel were dismissed and the libraries were seized. Shortly before, the Central Library for Consultation and Reading was inaugurated, which was installed in the Student Residence. [ 68 ]

The Franco dictatorship destroyed the Republican librarian action but emerged in Latin America, where the library staff exile could form a "second cultural renaissance in exile" [ 69 ]

The "social question"

The first reforms in this field were agreed by the Provisional Government at the proposal of the Minister of Labor , the socialist Francisco Largo Caballero , leader of the UGT , who continued with the same position in the Azana government. [ 70 ] The two basic pieces of his project for the regulation of labor relations, the Labor Contract Law and the Law on Mixed Juries, were highly contested by both the CNT and the employers.

The number of strikes and violent incidents as a result of them (which created serious problems of public order) increased throughout the first biennium of the Republic, mainly due to the CNT's refusal to use the official conciliation mechanisms. . [ 49 ] What was at stake were two trade union models, socialist and anarcho-syndicalist , almost opposite, which also continued to have a different presence in the various regions, because if the socialists were preponderant in Madrid, Asturias and the Basque Country , the anarchists They were in Andalusia , Valencia and Catalonia . [ 50 ]

The bosses also mobilized against Largo Caballero's social and labor reform. Thus, at the end of January 1933, in the midst of a political crisis due to the events in Casas Viejas , the Spanish Employers' Confederation sent an open letter to Azaña in which it pointed out the "dizzying speed" with which the new social legislation was being approved and complained of the mixed juries that practically always agreed with the workers, thanks to the vote of the representative of the Minister of Labor that broke the ties. The Economic Union expressed itself in similar terms, which brought together businessmen and economists, who complained about the "socialist" tendencies of the Government. These mobilizations came together in an economic-social assembly held in Madrid in July 1933, in which the socialists were asked to leave the government, who they held responsible for the "ruin of the economy" due to the increase in costs ( because of wage increases) and worker intervention ("cold socialization" they called it) and because of its ineffectiveness in stopping and reducing the number of strikes and guaranteeing social peace. [ 51 ]

The "military question"

When the second Azana government was formed in December 1931, the military reform was already underway. It had been the work of Azaña himself, who in the Provisional Government held the Ministry of War , a position that since October 1931 he had combined with that of president of the government. [ 37 ] The decrees on promotions were confirmed by the Courts by a law on Recruitment and Promotion of the Officiality of September 12, 1932, which also established a scale for promotions in which seniority and professional training prevailed. Likewise, this law unified career officers and those from the troop on a single scale. [ 38 ]

Officers who had generally opposed Manuel Azaña's military reform also protested when a law of September 1932 forced candidates to enter the officer academies to serve in the army for six months and to follow a number of courses in one school. University . "In his opinion, the requirement of university studies was an attempt to dilute the military spirit of a new generation of officers ... In reality, the Government intended to break down the old caste barriers and mutual ignorance, putting future officers in contact, during a part of his education, with the future members of the liberal professionals ". [ 71 ]

In March 1932, the Cortes approved a law authorizing the Minister of War, that is, Manuel Azaña , to put those generals who had not received any destination in reserve for six months. It was a covert way of getting rid of those generals whose government doubted their loyalty to the Republic. [ 72 ] The same law provided that the officers who had accepted the retirement established in the May 1931 decree would lose their pensions if they were found guilty of defamation under the Law for the Defense of the Republic . This last measure raised a lively debate in the Cortes, since both Miguel Maura and Ángel Ossorio y Gallardothey denounced the injustice of which the around 5000 recently retired officers who at one point criticized the government could be victims. Azana replied that it would be intolerable for the republic to have to pay its "enemies." [ 73 ]

Likewise, in December 1931 the body of non - commissioned officers was created , with the possibility of joining the Corps of officers in the Complement Scale and also 60% of the places in the military academies were reserved for them. In this way it was intended to democratize the social and ideological base of the Army commanders. [ 72 ] And it was also intended to narrow the professional gap that existed between officers and NCOs. [ 73 ]

As for compulsory military service, this was reduced to twelve months (four weeks for high school and university students), but it maintained the cash redemption of military service, although it could only be applied after six months of remaining in the ranks. [ 72 ]

Finally, the application of military jurisdiction to civilian individuals for reasons of public order was maintained , since the 1931 Constitution kept within its competence "military crimes" and "the arms services and the discipline of all armed institutes ", The latter concept that encompassed not only the Armed Forces" that defended the national territory ", but also the forces in charge" only of maintaining Public Order "(Civil Guard, Carabineros and any other possible new militarized body). In other words, the courts martial were, for example, competent to prosecute countrymen who had expressed criticism of the Armed Forces or the Civil Guard . [74 ] And they were also competent to judge those who had threatened public order, as happened in the anarchist insurrections in Alto Llobregat in January 1932 and in the whole of Spain in January 1933 . As notedthe socialist Juan Simeon Vidarte : [ 75 ]

Although this may seem strange, the Code of Military Justice was never modified and in all the clashes that took place between the people and the Civil Guard, the Councils of War continued to intervene.

The attempted coup d'état headed by General Sanjurjo , in August 1932, was an example of the discomfort of a part of the Army for reasons that were not strictly political. "The very strong campaign unleashed by the conservative media against the reform, personalized in the figure of Azaña, also contributed to turning the prime minister into the true black beast of many military men." [ 76 ]

The "regional question"

Regions with the right to appoint a member in the Court of Constitutional Guarantees
The Statute of Catalonia

Between January and April 1932, a commission of the Cortes adapted the draft Statute of Catalonia (the so-called Statute of Nuria ) to the Constitution of 1931 and even so it found enormous opposition in the chamber for its approval, especially among the agrarian minority and the deputies of the Traditionalist Communion who had already separated themselves from the PNV deputies in the Basque-Navarre minority , and which included a broad "anti-separatist" street mobilization. "Manuel Azaña risked the life of his government and his personal prestige in the approval of the Statute." [ 77 ]After four months of endless debates, only the failed coup d'état of General Sanjurjo in August 1932 led to the acceleration of the discussion of the Statute, which was finally approved on September 9 by 314 votes in favor (all the parties that supported the government, plus most of the deputies of the Radical Republican Party ) and 24 against. The Statute was less than what the Catalan nationalists had expected (the final version eliminated all the phrases that implied sovereignty for Catalonia; the federal formula was rejected; the Spanish and Catalan languages ​​were declared equally official, etc), "but when the president of the Council of ministers went to Barcelona for the presentation ceremony, he was greeted with a standing ovation tremendous. " [78 ] The first elections to Parliament took place two months later (in November 1932) and were won by Esquerra Republicana de Cataluña , followed at a great distance by the Lliga Regionalista . Francesc Macià was thus confirmed as president of the Generalitat . [ 79 ]

Through the Statute, Catalonia became an autonomous region, which would be governed by its own government, the Generalitat de Catalunya , made up of a president, a parliament and an executive council. The Generalitat would have legislative and executive powers in finance, economy, education and culture, transportation and communications; the government of the republic would take care of foreign relations and the army.

The Statute of the Basque Country
Autonomic referendum of the 5 of November of 1933 in Eibar for approval of a new text of the Statute

After the rejection of the Statute of Estella due to its clear incompatibility with the Constitution of 1931 , in December 1931 the Cortes commissioned the Provisional Management Commissions of the Provincial Councils, dominated by the Republicans and the Socialists, to draw up a new draft of the Statute, that in the end was agreed with the PNV . An Assembly of Town Councils held in Pamplonain June 1932 he approved the project, but the Carlists rejected it, so that, having the majority in Navarra, they left this territory out of the scope of the future "autonomous region". This forced a new wording of the project that excluded Navarra and a new delay. A new obstacle arose when the mandatory referendum on the "Statute of the Managers" was held on November 5, 1933, in the middle of the campaign for the elections to the Cortes, the favorable votes in Álava did not reach the majority of the census, again by the opposition of the Carlists (Álava was a province that, like Navarra, had a less Basque nationalist identity due to the strong implantation of Carlism). [ 80 ]

The Statute of Galicia.

As for Galicia, the first initiative, led by the Santiago de Compostela city ​​council , was taken later, in April 1932. But only nine months later, in December, the first phase of the process established by the Constitution had already been completed. of 1931, as the majority of Galician municipalities had approved a draft statute , which was largely inspired by the Catalan Statute that the Cortes had just approved. However, as in the Basque case, the triumph of the center-right in the November 1933 elections paralyzed the process. [ 81 ]

The "agrarian question": the Agrarian Reform Law

During the first biennium, the agrarian decrees of the Provisional Government approved at the proposal of the Minister of Labor, the socialist Francisco Largo Caballero , continued to be applied, and the opposition of the owners who relied on the municipalities, mostly monarchical, and on the use of the Guard continued. Civil to confront the representatives of the National Federation of Land Workers (FNTT) of the UGT. The latter grew a lot during this time, going from about 100,000 affiliates in 1931 to about 450,000 in the summer of the following year (until it constituted almost half of the affiliates of the entire UGT), with the majority of the new affiliates being landless peasants who were grateful to the socialists because they had given them their first opportunity to make their voices heard when negotiating with the landowners. [ 82 ] The same happened with the organizations of agrarian proprietors since to the old National Catholic-Agrarian Confederation , the Association of Rustic Property Owners was added in 1931, and in March 1933, the Spanish Agricultural Employers Confederation (in which founding manifesto was said: "socialism is the enemy; he and his allies; he and his collaborators "). Of these organizations will many of the leaders of the future CEDA . [ 83 ]

The Agrarian Reform Law

After the rejection of two draft bills of agrarian reform, in March 1932 a third one prepared by the team of the Ministry of Agriculture of the radical-socialist Marcelino Domingo was taken as the basis of the debate in the Cortes. [ 84 ] But the discussion of the bill dragged on and would have lasted even longer if the coup attempt led by General Sanjurjo on August 10, 1932 had not taken place , which when defeated gave the government the definitive impulse for the approval of the Law (the failure of the coup d'etat of Sanjurjo also unblocked the debate on the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia ). [ 85]

The agrarian reform, finally approved, consisted of the expropriation (with compensation, except for the lands of the nobility that were " great in Spain " for their supposed involvement in the " Sanjurjada ") of the lands of latifundista Spain (Andalusia, Extremadura, the south of La Mancha and the province of Salamanca ) included in the sections indicated in the 5th Base of the Law, which contemplated four types of expropriable lands: jurisdictional manors , poorly cultivated lands, systematically leased lands and those that were in irrigated areas and would not have been converted into irrigation . [ 86 ]

Thus, the Agrarian Reform Law established the expropriation with compensation of large farms that were not directly cultivated by their owners, as well as uncultivated and non-irrigated irrigated farms, to be distributed among peasant families or among farmer groups. To carry out the land redistribution, the Agrarian Reform Institute was created.(IRA), on which the provincial boards and peasant communities depended. An annual credit of 50 million pesetas was granted to the Institute and it was projected to settle annually from 60 to 75 thousand peasants. The mechanism of action was as follows: the expropriated or confiscated lands became the property of the Institute, which transferred them to the provincial boards, which in turn handed them over to the peasant communities, for their collective or individual exploitation, as they had decided previously the peasants. The problems that arose in carrying out this work were numerous and serious, not counting the opposition of the expropriated or confiscated landowners, the excessively bureaucratic nature of the Institute, the lack of data to know the lands belonging to the same owner, the lack of previous studies on the quality and yields of the land, the exclusion of pasture lands, thus marginalizing livestock. In spite of everything, it was the first effort to distribute land among the peasants.

However and despite the great expectations it had raised, the effects of the Agrarian Reform Law were very limited: at the end of 1933 only 24,203 ha had been occupied, distributed among 4,339 peasants, to which it would be necessary to add another three or four thousand in the lands previously expropriated to the Greatness. The main reason for this failure in the application was that the Agrarian Reform Institute (IRA), which was the body in charge of applying the law, was endowed with insufficient human and economic resources, due to the lack of money from the Public Treasury. and the boycott carried out by the bankprivate (family and economically linked to the landowners) to the National Agricultural Credit Bank, created by the Law to finance the reform. [ 87 ]

The slow application of the law was attempted to alleviate with a complementary measure, which was the Crop Intensification Decree of October 22, 1932, which allowed the temporary occupation of farmland farms that had ceased to be leased to cultivators. and they would have dedicated themselves only to livestock in the southern half of Spain (mainly Extremadura). The measure affected 1,500 farms in 9 provinces (about 125,000 hectares) and employed 40,108 families, especially Extremadura, whose members were unemployed. [ 88 ]

The failure of the agrarian reform was one of the main causes of the acute social unrest of the 1933-34 period, because the announcement of the reform made many day laborers believe in a rapid handover of land, which finally did not take place for what soon they were disappointed. This led to the radicalization of the National Federation of Land Workers (FNTT) of the UGT, thus coinciding with the CNT, which from the beginning had fought an agrarian reform that, according to it, consolidated the capitalist model in rural areas and made it impossible to that a "real" revolution took place. [ 88 ]

On the other side of the political spectrum, the agrarian reform united the traditional dominant social sectors in agriculture and contributed, to a similar or even higher degree to the "religious question," to consolidate them as a bloc in opposition to the republican regime. In August 1931, they created the National Association of Rustic Property Owners, in defense of the "legitimate right to property", and using the old caciquile networks and the continuous appeal to the intervention of the Civil Guard, they boycotted the application of the "decrees agrarian ». Likewise, in the Cortes the agrarian minority carried out a spectacular obstruction of the debates of the law that contributed notably to the delay in its approval. [ 89 ]

Opposition to reforms

The royalist right
Flag of the Carlist Requeté

The Alphonsine monarchists , unlike the Carlists whose Traditionalist Communion continued to grow and organize their requete militias , did not set out to form a mass movement but acted on three fronts: the cultural one, updating the traditionalist and conservative discourse, through a group of intellectuals grouped around the magazine Acción Española ; the politician, founding his own party, called Renovación Española , which will try to form an anti-republican front with the nascent Spanish fascism , the Carlists and the less "accidentalist" sector of the CEDA; and above all the insurrectionary, seeking the collaboration of the sectors of the Spanish Army that remained loyal to the monarchy (despite having sworn allegiance to the Republic) and of those other dissatisfied by the military reform of Azaña . [ 90 ]

The attempted coup of General Sanjurjo in August 1932

Although General Sanjurjo at first did not show much interest in leading a military pronouncement that would overthrow the Azana government, his opinion changed when he was dismissed from his post as director of the Civil Guard in January 1932, as a result of the events in Arnedo . and appointed director general of the Carabineros, a position of less importance. [ 91 ]

The attempted coup d'état took place on August 10, 1932. In Madrid, a group of armed soldiers and civilians under the command of Generals Barrera and Cavalcanti tried to take over the Ministry of War , where Azaña was located, but several units of the Civil and Assault Guard put down the rebellion, in which nine insurgents died and several were wounded. [ 92 ] In Seville, on the other hand, where General Sanjurjo had located his headquarters, he did succeed in getting the garrison to support the coup and a state of war was declared., although Sanjurjo kept the troops quartered. He published a manifesto in which he announced that he was not rising up against the republic as such (which disappointed part of the monarchists who had supported him), but against the current "illegitimate" Cortes, called by a "regime of terror", and which had brought Spain to the brink of " ruin, iniquity and dismemberment ." Immediately the unions called a general strike in the city and in the absence of support from other garrisons, General Sanjurjo fled in the direction of Portugal , but was arrested in Huelva near the border. [ 93 ]

Sanjurjo was sentenced to death by a court martial, although the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by a decree of the President of the Republic. [ 94 ] Almost all the repressive measures envisaged by the Law for the Defense of the Republic fell on the military and royal civilians who had participated in or supported the coup : 145 chiefs and officers were detained and deported to Villa Cisneros in the Spanish colony. from Western Sahara , as had been done with 104 anarchists a few months earlier on the occasion of the anarchist insurrection in Alto Llobregat; its most prominent press organs, the newspaper ABC and the magazine Acción Españolathey were suspended; many political and cultural venues were closed; the properties of the "great of Spain" nobility (accused of financing the coup) were expropriated without compensation of their lands by a law approved by Parliament, and so on. [ 95 ]

Propaganda poster for the Spanish Falange and the JONS .

After the failure of the Sanjurjo coup, the monarchists began to financially support the small fascist groups that had emerged in the previous two years, pressuring them to unify into a single organization. In 1931, Ramiro Ledesma Ramos and Onésimo Redondo had merged their respective groups to form the Juntas de Offensive Nacional Sindicalista ( JONS ), organized in "squads" on the model of the " squadra d'azzione " of Italian fascism . Another fascist group was led by the lawyer José Antonio Primo de Rivera , son of the dictator General Primo de Rivera, who had founded together with the journalist and writer Rafael Sánchez Mazas and the aviator Julio Ruiz de Alda the Spanish Trade Union Movement (MES), which the “Jonsistas” considered little “revolutionary”. The MES was joined by the philosopher-fascist Frente Español , headed by Alfonso García Valdecasas , a former follower of José Ortega y Gasset and integrated with him in the Agrupación al Servicio de la República . [ 96 ] The definitive impulse of the MES group was thanks to the signing in August 1933 of the so-called "Pact of El Escorial" by which the Alphonsine monarchists of the Spanish RenovationThey promised to finance the movement in exchange for it adopting a large part of its postulates. On October 29, 1933, the MES held a rally at the Teatro de la Comedia theater in Madrid, a kind of re-founding of the movement that was renamed the Spanish Falange . [ 97 ] In early 1934 Falangists and Jonsistas merged into the Spanish Falange de las JONS , which until the spring of 1936 remained a minuscule organization. [ 98 ]

The "accidentalist" Catholic right of the CEDA
CEDA logo

The hostility of the Catholic Church and of the sectors that supported it to the declaration of the non-denominational nature of the State and to the radical secularizing policy undertaken by the republican-socialist government chaired by Azaña, gave birth to political Catholicism , which it managed to build from Acción Nacional (since March 1932 called Popular Action ) a great mass party that was the Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Rights(CEDA), although this would not have occurred without the leadership, ideological discourse and organizational resources of the Catholic Church. This confederation of parties brought together not only the oligarchies of the old regime but also thousands of poor and middle farmers led politically by members of the urban middle classes, who in turn felt harmed by the reformist policies of the left coalition, as determined professional and civil service sectors, both civil and military, or intellectual circles linked to the conservative tradition. And all of them saw with horror the secularism of the State and with fear the rise of the working class. "The new Catholic party began its activity seeking a direct confrontation with the government on the two points that could serve to attract greater affiliation: the Republicans were described as cold persecutors of the Church, and, consequently, enemies of the Fatherland, and to the Socialists were presented as enemies of property, family and order. This was how Popular Action, and from its founding congress of February and March 1933, the CEDA, achieved a mass audience linking the defense of the Catholic religion to the struggle for property as the foundation of social order ". [ 99 ] The CEDA was led by the young lawyer José María Gil-Robles , professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of SalamancaAt the time of its foundation, it claimed to have 600,000 members, which made it the largest party in the Second Republic.

Flag of the CNT-FAI .

The CNT opposed the Provisional Government, first, and the social-Azana government, later, as it saw how the repressive government measures were primed with it (as in the times of the Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera ) and as it left promulgating the new and neat labor legislation of Largo Caballero that tried to impose the “corporate” union model of the UGT through the decree, and that the CNT considered as an attempt to reduce its influence over the working class and as a “betrayal” of the true "social revolution". [ 97 ]

The policy of confrontation with the republic also had internal repercussions in the CNT because it reinforced the properly anarchist tendency (identified with the Iberian Anarchist Federation , FAI ) against the unionist tendency, led by Juan Peiró and Ángel Pestaña , who will spread their thesis contrary to insurrectionalism in a manifesto called "Thirty" in August 1931. Many of these " treintistas " will be expelled from the CNT throughout 1932. [ 100 ]

The first important example of the CNT's policy of confrontation was the call in July 1931 of a strike by the employees of the National Telephone Company of Spain , which led to bloody incidents in Seville , with the result of 30 deaths and some 200 injured. "Anarchists discovered that a Republic could treat them with the same severity as a monarchical government." [ 101 ] This strike was followed by others, culminating in the anarchist insurrection in Alto Llobregat in January 1932, [ 102 ] during which “ libertarian communism”And the republican flags were replaced by the red and black flags of the CNT. [ 103 ] The Army had to intervene to put an end to the insurrection. [ 104 ] There were many detainees and about two hundred CNT leaders were applied the Law of Defense of the Republic, for which they were deported without a judicial order to the colonies of Africa. With this act of the deportees, the confrontation between the CNT and the republican-socialist government became even more radical. [ 105 ]

Photograph taken shortly after the events in Casas Viejas (January 1933). You can see the corpses of the peasants still unburied.

Just one year later, a new insurrectionary movement took place in January 1933 , this time a general one, which caused serious incidents in Catalonia, Aragon, Valencia and Andalusia, expeditiously repressed by government forces, which caused many deaths. The most serious events took place in the village of Casas Viejas (Cádiz) where the intervention of the public order forces caused a massacre. The events were used by the opposition to attack the government (the false news was spread that Azaña himself had given the order to shoot the guards), and although he was able to overcome the crisis, in the medium term "Casas Viejas" would be enormously harmful. [ 106 ]

In the Cádiz town of Casas Viejas, the guards under the command of Captain Manuel Rojas shot into the town, set fire to the house where some peasants had taken refuge, among them Francisco Cruz Gutiérrez , known as "Seisdedos", who died burned together with others neighbors when their hut was set on fire by the Assault Guard , and then they proceeded to a series of arrests: shooting participants, suspects, neighbors and their relatives at random, a total of fourteen neighbors were executed.

The crisis of the republican-socialist coalition: the end of the Azana government

Against all odds, 1933 turned out to be a very complicated year for the Azana government. It began with the anarchist insurrection of January 1933 , which led to the massacre of Casas Viejas and undermined republican credibility; The criticisms of the opposition were exemplified in the famous expression of the radical deputy Martínez Barrio "blood, mud and tears" to refer to the government, which was used from then on as a slogan by the detractors of the Republic (even during the Franco regime ). [ 107 ] The bad news about the economy and unemployment came together with the offensive of the employers' organizations against the mixed jury system., the irruption of Catholicism as a mass political movement with the founding of the CEDA and the harassment of the Radical Republican Party . [ 108 ]

The opposition of the Radical Republican Party to the continuity in the government of the Socialists, once the Constitution of 1931 was approved , was fundamentally based on the fact that an important part of its social base was made up of the urban and rural middle classes, merchants, shopkeepers and small businessmen. that rejected the socio-labor reforms approved by the socialist Francisco Largo Caballero . The leader of the radicals Alejandro Lerroux thus became a spokesman for all those who hated the socialists and put pressure on Niceto Alcalá Zamoraso that he would withdraw his support for the Azana government. "That the socialists leave became the unanimous cry of businessmen and employers in the spring and summer of 1933, when the economic crisis and unemployment reached their highest point and the CNT focused its strikes and mobilizations against mixed juries" . [ 109 ]

The key point of the rupture of the coalition of the left Republicans and the Socialists, however, was not the “external” pressures or the loss of support, but rather the intense internal debate that Spanish socialism experienced about the convenience of staying in government. The discontent of the socialist bases in the countryside was growing, disillusioned by the scope and pace of the agrarian reform, and there had already been bloody confrontations such as the events in Castilblanco (Badajoz) or the events in Arnedo.(Logroño) between day laborers of the FNTT-UGT and the Civil Guard, which was under the command of a government where there were three socialist ministers. In the cities, the economic crisis worsened, unemployment increased and the employers radicalized their opposition to the socio-labor regulations. All this accentuated the gap between the socialist bases with "their" government. [ 110 ] On the other hand, the UGT leaders observed the faster growth of their CNT rivals and attributed it to the fact that they had not committed themselves to collaborating with a “bourgeois” government. [ 111 ] The events of Casas ViejasThey are the ones who ended up making the idea prevail among the socialists that the time had come to abandon the alliance with the republican bourgeoisie. [ 112 ]

Finally, it was the pressure of the Catholics mobilized by the recently created CEDA on the presidency of the republic due to the debate on the Law of Congregations that caused the first crisis of the Azana government. Alcalá Zamora and his scruples of conscience as a Catholic led him to delay until the last day the business period to enact the Law of Congregations, approved by the Cortes on May 17 but not promulgated until June 2. The next day Alcalá Zamora withdrew its trust in the government and it had to resign. [ 113 ] The president of the republic was convinced that public opinion was leaning to the right. [ 114 ]

However, Alcalá Zamora had no choice but to reappoint Azaña because he could not find any other candidate who could obtain the support of the majority of the deputies. Thus, on June 13, the third government of Azaña was formed , with a composition very similar to the second (the Socialists kept their three ministers) although it expanded its parliamentary support by including a minister from the Federal Democratic Republican Party , José Franchy Roca , new Minister of Industry and Commerce, and Lluís Companys , of the Esquerra Republicana de Cataluña , as Minister of the Navy . [ 39 ]

The new opportunity to dismiss Azaña was presented to Alcalá-Zamora at the beginning of September 1933. The elections of the fifteen members of the Court of Constitutional Guarantees had been held on the 3rd , and during the same the opposition parties, CEDA and the Radical Republican Party mobilized and the CEDA got six seats and the Radical Republican Party four, while the Republican-Socialists only got five. Azaña sought the vote of confidence from the Cortes and obtained it, but the next day, September 7, the president withdrew his for the second time and Azaña had to resign. [ 115 ]

Alcalá Zamora entrusted the formation of a new government to Alejandro Lerroux, but his government of "republican concentration" (with the Socialists outside the Executive who declared that all the commitments contracted between the Republicans and the Socialists had been broken ”) only lasted three weeks, because the left republicans, the socialists and the radical-socialists "independent" of Marcelino Domingo did not grant him the confidence. Consequently, the president of the republic appointed the also radical Diego Martínez Barrio as new president.whose sole mission would be to organize new elections for the first round on November 19 (and the second for December 3). It would be the first time in the history of Spain, and one of the first in Europe, that women would vote (six million were registered). [ 116 ]


  • December 16: Republican-Socialist coalition government , chaired by Azaña.
  • December 20: the Federation of Earth Workers calls a peaceful demonstration to ask for work. In the small Extremaduran town of Castilblanco , the Civil Guard prevents the demonstration without firing at the crowd as usual. The Federation, in response, calls a two-day general strike. More demonstrations are called, and the mayor sends a group of civil guards to the town house to negotiate. A group of women begins to reprimand them, so one of the guards fires a deterrent shot. Immediately after, a group of people pounced on them and lynched them. Public opinion and the political class are shaken and the lynching leaders are sentenced to life imprisonment .[56]
  • Other projects initiated first by the Minister of Public Instruction Marcelino Domingo and his successor Fernando de los Ríos include the investment of 400 million pesetas of the time for the mass construction of primary schools [ 117 ] (by the director of Education Rodolfo Llopis Elementary7,000 were erected in the first ten months of the new government, out of a total of 27,000 envisaged by the Ministry as necessary for all children in Spain to have access to Primary school), adaptation courses for thousands of civil servants of both sexes in Possession of the title of Teacher but working in other areas of the State due to lack of positions and a 15 percent salary increase for educators. The most conservative city councils did not believe in the initiative from the beginning and, from the end of 1932, the monarchical and Catholic deputies openly torpedoed it until it was lost at the bottom of the discussion of the religious question . [ 56 ]
  • January 5: as at the end of December, the peasants and the Civil Guard clash in Arnedo , La Rioja. The guards, unlike in Castilblanco, open indiscriminate fire on a group of peasants who came to a negotiation with the employers, killing four women and a child and wounding sixteen people. Public opinion is scandalized again and the event will cause the dismissal after a month of the general director of the Civil Guard, José Sanjurjo , and his replacement by Miguel Cabanellas . [ 56 ]
  • January 10: a Carlist rally takes place . Upon leaving it, some affiliates confront young socialists who had come to make a counter-demonstration and open fire, killing three people and wounding an unknown number, as well as a civil guard. [ 57 ] The investigation discovered that some shots had come from the Madres Reparadoras convent, which is why it was closed. In addition, the Colegio del Sagrado Corazón was fined when a cache of weapons was found inside it.
  • January 24: the government, applying Article 26 of the Constitution, orders to dissolve the Society of Jesus and confiscate all its assets in Spain, including its investments in Telefónica and in the electricity and transport companies, but it is difficult to follow its network of front companies . The decree supposes the exclaustration of the Jesuits who ran educational institutions, which entails different consequences for the centers: some such as the University of Comillas [ 118 ] managed to maintain their activity, but others had to cease. Among those affected were higher education centers such as the Comillas Pontifical University , the Chemical Instituteand the Sarriá Biological Laboratory , the Madrid Catholic Institute of Arts and Industry , the Valencia School and Mercantile Center , the Roquetas and Granada observatories , the Faculties of Letters and the Commercial University of Deusto , at that time the only Faculty of Economic Sciences. of Spain, which would not reopen its classrooms until full Francoism. In some cases, these centers became the property of the State, so their titles finally received the official recognition that they had not had during the monarchy. In other cases the Jesuits continued to run them as if they were any private company, and the ownership of some residences was discovered to have been held by the inhabitants themselves for years despite the fact that the Company was listed as the owner. [ 56 ] [ 119 ]
  • January 30: to replace the urban police forces, the Assault Guard is created . In successive months, it will be provided with the personnel and means to deal with sporadic strikes and clashes between street gangs. [ 57 ]
  • February 24: The Divorce Law is approved . Although the measure did not involve a flood of divorces, it did flow rivers of ink with the divorces of some prominent people, such as Constancia de la Mora Maura , granddaughter of the conservative Antonio Maura . The influential Catholic Church considered the measures taken by the Azana government as illegal and offensive acts. [ 56 ]
  • March: it is decided to put all those generals who do not receive an appointment within six months to reserve. This measure is intended, on the one hand, to thin the officer corps, and on the other to force the retirement of generals who may pose a risk to the democratic system. Among those affected are Emilio Mola and Millán Astray . [ 56 ]
  • April: a confrontation between the Socialists and the Carlists in Pamplona resulted in two deaths and eight wounded by firearms. Sporadic political violence and strikes or attempted strikes, however, did not endanger the stability of the government. [ 57 ]
  • May 13: The CASE ( Subaltern Auxiliary Corps of the Army ) is created with the intention of regularizing the situation of civilian Army employees such as janitors, typists, mechanics or draftsmen. [ 120 ]
  • June 27: Carabanchel incident . Generals Villegas , Caballero and Goded mobilized three infantry regiments from the Madrid garrison to Carabanchel as part of military training with cadets. After a series of critical speeches with government policy and appealing to the traditional interventionist vision of the Army in civil life, Goded ends his speech with a Viva España ... and nothing else , purposely omitting the ¡Viva la República! which by law is obliged to pronounce. Then, Lieutenant Colonel Julio Mangada, of well-known liberal ideas, his attitude ugly, to which Goded responds by ordering him to arrest. It is publicly known that some generals and high ranks of the army such as Villegas and Goded are monarchists [ 121 ] and are believed to be involved in anti-republican conspiracies, [ 122 ] for which Azaña takes advantage of the incident to relieve the main implicated from their posts. . [ 123 ]
  • August 10: Failed coup by General Sanjurjo ( La Sanjurjada ). Sanjurjo is arrested in Huelva , when he tried to flee to Portugal . Tried and sentenced to death, the President of the Republic commutes his sentence to life imprisonment . Among those arrested as organizers of the coup are other high-ranking officials such as Goded, Cavalcanti and Barrera, up to a total of 145 collaborators. [ 56 ]
  • September 9: rapid approval of the Catalan Statute in Parliament. After the failed coup of the previous month, most of the intervening parties agree that getting involved in internal fights over minor issues endangers the stability of the Republic. [ 56 ] Since the approval of the Statute in a referendum, the parties had argued for a long time on the Catalan question., its role within the State and the territorial organization of the nascent Republic, and the discussions were at a standstill after more than a year of meetings, plenary sessions and media noise. However, the Sanjurjo coup made the political class aware that there were a number of well-placed people determined to end the system and establish a dictatorship or restore the monarchy.
  • September 9: for the same reasons, the Law of Bases for Agrarian Reform is approved in Parliament , the most ambitious project of the Second Republic due to its economic and social significance, which, however, will not yield the desired results. It will be replaced by the Agrarian Counter-Reform Law in the following biennium. [ 124 ]
  • September: throughout the month, the Agrarian Reform Institute is created(IRA) for inventory and expropriation. Azaña continues to carry out reforms in the Army: a Train Corps is created and the budget for aviation is increased. The specialist academies are reduced from five to two and it establishes as a requirement that all aspiring officers must study a certain number of hours of liberal arts at the university level. Furthermore, the military courts no longer have their own jurisdiction and are subordinate to the civil courts. The first two measures are applauded by the military establishment, but the other measures, decreed with the motivation of bringing the army closer to civil society and ending its feeling of independence and superiority over successive governments, are generally received coldly. [ 56 ]
  • January 8: anarchist uprising at the national level (the so-called January Revolution of 1933 ). Anarchists from all over the Spanish geography rebel with the aim of establishing libertarian communism . Several provincial councils are set on fire and in Barcelona the workers and the police clash, leaving a balance of 37 dead and 300 injured in three days. [ 57 ] In some places such as Valencia or Seville a state of war is declared and the labor unions are closed. [ 125 ]
  • January 11: the events of Casas Viejas make the front pages of the newspapers. The Assault Guard confronts the peasants in Casas Viejas , Cádiz, and orders to surrender to the leader of the rebellion in the town, who is locked up in his house. Faced with the refusal, the agents open fire, killing all the inhabitants of the house and then set the place on fire. At the same time, a platoon of the Assault Guard irregularly shoots fourteen prisoners, [ 126 ]And before the commotion, his commanding officer, Captain Rojas, claims to receive direct orders from Manuel Azaña, and attributes the phrase "Los tiros, a la belly." However, Azaña denied having given that kind of order and after the investigation, his involvement in the events could never be proven. Alejandro Lerroux presents a motion of censure, but withdraws it in view of the conclusions. [ 57 ] Several deputies from different parties contact Azana to propose a dictatorship as a means to end social instability. [ 57 ] [ 126 ]
Program of the Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Rights (January 1933)

1º Compliance with the constituted Power, according to the teaching of the Church.-
2º Legal fight against persecutory and iniquitous legislation.
3º Elimination of the program of everything related to the forms of Government. Each member is free to keep their convictions intact and can defend them outside the organization.-
«Parties or organizations that do not agree on the points indicated may not be part of the CEDA. However, she will maintain a friendly and cordial relationship with those. "

  • March 4: a group of moderate Catholics founds the CEDA using Popular Action as its nucleus, although since its birth the new party also brings together the Carlists and Alfonsinos. They are more in favor of a traditional monarchy than one in the Italian style. [ 57 ]
  • April 23: municipal elections of April 1933 , for the first time in the history of Spain women can vote in elections. Its incorporation en masse into electoral life has the results that were expected, since it was also the first time that Republican candidates had been presented in hundreds of rural municipalities. [ 57 ] Rural society, much more conservative than urban, makes the number of monarchical or far-right councilors exceed the barrier of 4,000 at the national level, compared to just over 7,500 who declare themselves Republicans. [ 127 ]
  • May 18: the Law of Congregations converts all Church property into public property, not only temples, but also movable property (including priestly ornaments, images, and objects of common use). [ citation required ]
  • July: pastoral work by Pope Pius XI , who advises Spanish Catholics to abide by the civil powers, without renouncing to send their children to schools with the Catholic tradition. [ 57 ]
  • September: elections for the Court of Constitutional Guarantees. The Court, voted mainly by the councilors elected in the municipal elections of April, is taken over by the conservatives, who conquer 70% of the seats. Some of the elected members are Juan March , then in jail for smuggling, and José Calvo Sotelo , a royalist, former minister of Primo de Rivera and in exile at the time of his election. [ 57 ]
  • October 9: Faced with the impossibility of Lerroux to reach a majority that guarantees governability, the Cortes are dissolved and new elections are called.
  • October 29: Foundation of the Spanish Falange by José Antonio Primo de Rivera . Despite the sympathy that its founder raises among university students for his youth, Falange refuses to stand in the general elections. José Antonio rejects any idea that has to do with sitting in Parliament expeditiously. [ 57 ]
  • November 19: general elections in which the conservative CEDA , led by José María Gil-Robles , becomes the first majority. In second position are the radicals of Alejandro Lerroux , the main beneficiaries of the breakdown of the Republican-Socialist Conjunction. They were the first elections in the history of Spain in which women could vote. As in the first legislature, the winning parties are overrepresented in Parliament due to electoral rules. The results of the rest of the games hardly vary with respect to those of two years before. [ 57 ]

Second biennium or radical-cedista biennium (1934-1936)

The second biennium of the Second Spanish Republic, also called the black biennium , or rectifying biennium , or conservative biennium , constitutes the period between the general elections of November 1933 and those of February 1936, during which the center-right parties ruled. Republican led by the Radical Republican Party of Alejandro Lerroux , allied with the Catholic right of the CEDA and the Agrarian Party , first from the parliament and then participating in the government. Precisely the entry of the CEDA into the government in October 1934 triggered the most important event of the period: the Revolution of 1934, a failed socialist insurrection that only consolidated in Asturias for a couple of weeks (the only place where the CNT also participated ), although it was also finally put down by the intervention of the army ( Revolution of Asturias ). Unlike the relative political stability of the first biennium (with the two governments chaired by Manuel Azaña ), the second was a period in which the governments chaired by the Radical Republican Party had an average of three months of life (eight governments were formed in two years) and three different presidents took turns ( Alejandro Lerroux , Ricardo Samper and Joaquín Chapaprieta), and the last two governments of the biennium, those chaired by the “centrist” Portela Valladares , lasted even less . [ 129 ]

The radical governments of Alejandro Lerroux and Ricardo Samper (December 1933-October 1934)

The result of the November 1933 elections , in which women voted for the first time ( 6,800,000 registered), [ 130 ] was the defeat of the Republicans of the Left and the Socialists and the triumph of the Right and of the center-right, mainly due to the fact that the parties of that tendency appeared united in forming coalitions, while the left presented itself divided. The non-republican right wing coalition obtained around 200 deputies (of which 115 were from the CEDA ), while the center-right and center obtained about 170 deputies (102 the Radical Republican Party), and the left saw its representation reduced to just a hundred parliamentarians (59 the PSOE ). There had been a spectacular turnaround with respect to the Constituent Cortes . [ 131 ] The distribution of votes was as follows: of the 8,535,200 votes cast, 3,365,700 were for right-wing parties, 2,051,500 for center parties, and 3,118,000 for left-wing parties. [ 132 ]

The leader of the Radical Party Alejandro Lerroux was commissioned by the president of the republic Alcalá-Zamora to form a "purely republican" government, but to gain the confidence of the Cortes he needed the parliamentary support of the CEDA, which was left out of the cabinet (he continued without making a public declaration of adherence to the Republic), and other center-right parties (the agrarians and the liberal-democrats who entered the Government with one minister each). [ 133 ] "Backed by his electoral victory José María Gil Robleshe set out to put into practice the [three-phase] tactic set out two years earlier: to lend his support to a government headed by Lerroux and then take a step forward by demanding entry into the government to later be commissioned to preside over it. " [ 134 ]

The support of the CEDA government Lerroux was considered by the alfonsinos monarchists of Renovation Spanish and the Chartists as a "betrayal" so they initiated contacts with the Fascist Italy of Mussolini to provide them with money, weapons and logistical support for overthrow the republic and restore the monarchy. [ 135 ]For their part, the left-wing republicans and the socialists considered the radical-cedista pact a "betrayal of the Republic" and tried to get the president of the republic to call new elections before the newly elected Cortes were constituted. The socialists of the PSOE and UGT went even further and agreed that they would unleash a revolution if the CEDA entered the government. [ 134 ]

The intention of the Lerroux government was to "rectify" the reforms of the first biennium , not cancel them, with the aim of incorporating the republic to the "accidentalist" right (which did not openly proclaim itself monarchical, although its sympathies were with the monarchy, nor nor republican) represented by the CEDA and the Agrarian Party. [ 136 ]

On April 20, 1934, the Cortes approved the Amnesty Law (one of the three points of the CEDA's "minimum program", and which also appeared in the electoral program of the Radical Republican Party ), which entailed the release of all those involved in the the coup of 1932 (the Sanjurjada ). [ 137 ] The problem that arose was the opposition of the president of the republic Niceto Alcalá-Zamora to the law and Lerroux, upon verifying that he had lost the president's confidence, resigned. The solution to the crisis was to find a new radical leader to preside over the government. It was the Valencian Ricardo Samper . [ 138 ]

The first problem that radical governments had to face was the anarchist insurrection of December 1933, which, like the two previous ones in the first biennium, also proved a complete failure. [ 139 ] The balance of the seven days of the insurrection was 75 dead and 101 wounded, among the insurgents, and 11 civil guards and 3 assault guards killed and 45 and 18 wounded, respectively, among the forces of public order. [ 140 ]

Regarding the reforms of the first biennium, Azana's military reform was maintained although the radical governments gave his management a markedly contrary orientation to the Azana period, trying to attract the disgruntled military. [ 138 ]

Regarding the "religious question," the Lerroux government passed a bill whereby clergymen who worked in parishes with fewer than 3,000 inhabitants and who were over 40 years old in 1931, would receive two-thirds of their 1931 salary. But when the government brought him to Parliament in January 1934, the left accused him of pursuing an "anti-republican" policy. The second measure that the Lerroux government took was to extend the deadline for the closure of religious schools, which in primary education was scheduled for December 1933, until enough public schools had been built to accommodate all students in the schools. of the Catholic Church. [ 141 ]However, the radical governments failed in their attempt to reach an agreement with the Holy See , because it demanded the revision of the 1931 Constitution . [ 142 ]

Regarding the "social question" , Largo Caballero's socio-labor reforms were partially "rectified" under pressure from employers' organizations , [ 72 ] however the "labor counter-reform" demanded by employers was not carried out because the unions still retained a great capacity for mobilization, which was translated into a growing wave of strikes throughout 1934, which for the first time since the proclamation of the republic were called by joint committees of the UGT and CNT . [ 143 ]

Regarding the "agrarian question", Minister Cirilo del Río Rodríguez , respected the expected pace of application of the Agrarian Reform Law, so that in 1934 more peasants settled than during the entire previous biennium, expropriating four times the properties, although The Amnesty Law approved in April 1934 returned to the "great of Spain" nobility a part of the lands that the Azana government had confiscated from them due to the involvement of some of its members in the Sanjurjada . [ 144 ] But the main objective of his policy was to dismantle the "socialist power" in the countryside, for which he annulled or substantially modified the agrarian decrees of the Provisional Government.. In addition, in February 1934 the Crop Intensification Decree was not extended, so some 28,000 families were evicted from the plots they cultivated on farms that maintained uncultivated lands. [ 144 ] The de facto repeal of the Municipal Terms decree and the reform of the Mixed Agrarian Juries (whose government-appointed presidents leaned more and more in favor of the employers) allowed the owners to once again enjoy an almost complete freedom of hiring the day laborers they need and being able to retaliate against their organizations. [ 145 ] As a consequence of all this, agricultural wages, which had increased during the first biennium, fell again. [143 ] This policy of "disregarding socialist power" in the countryside was due to the offensive of rural landowners who had interpreted the victory of the right and center-right in the November elections as a triumph over the day laborers and tenants. Some of them used the expression "eat Republic!" when day laborers asked for work or when they evicted tenants. [ 143 ]

The union response was the call by the FNTT of a general strike of farm laborers for the beginning of June, even without the approval of the UGT national executive (which was preparing a nationwide revolutionary general strike). [ 146 ] [ 147 ] The government ended up supporting the hard line of the Minister of the Interior Salazar Alonso who considered the strike a "revolutionary movement" and declared "national interest" collecting the harvest, giving instructions to be prevented the performance of peasant organizations. [ 145 ]Thus "the largest agrarian strike in history" gave rise to an unprecedented repression in the Republic. There were more than 10,000 arrests and some 200 left-wing city councils were removed and replaced by government-appointed right-wing managers. [ 146 ] The clashes between strikers and the forces of public order (and with the scabs) caused thirteen deaths and several dozen wounded. [ 147 ] As a consequence of the excessive performance of Salazar Alonso, agrarian unionism was practically dismantled. [ 145 ]

Regarding the "regional question", the governments of the Radical Republican Party neutralized the statutory impulse of the integral State defined in the Constitution of 1931 (which according to the CEDA posed a danger of "disintegration of the homeland"), which caused serious Tensions where autonomy processes were already underway, as in Catalonia and the Basque Country. [ 148 ] The process of the Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country was paralyzed and on June 12 the PNV deputies withdrew from the Cortes in protest. [ 149 ] In the summer of 1934 another conflict arose around theBasque Economic Agreement , which caused an institutional rebellion of the municipalities that called elections (without the approval of the Cortes) in order to appoint a Commission to negotiate the defense of the Economic Agreement and that the government tried to prevent by all means (stopped and prosecuted more than a thousand mayors and councilors and replaced numerous municipalities with government management commissions). [ 150 ] On September 2, the Basque parliamentarians held an assembly in Zumárraga in solidarity with the municipalities. [ 151 ]

The conflict with the Generalitat of Catalonia was related to the promulgation on April 14, 1934 of the Law of Cultivation Contracts approved by the Catalan Parliament, which made it possible for tenants of vineyards ( rabassaires ) to buy plots after cultivating them during fifteen years. The owners protested and obtained with the support of the Regionalist League that the Government brought the law before the Court of Constitutional Guarantees , which declared it unconstitutional. [ 152 ] The response of the Generalitat of Catalonia was to withdraw from the General Courts the 18 deputies of the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, accompanied by the 12 of the PNV, and propose to the Parliament of Catalonia an identical law that was approved on June 12, which constituted a serious challenge to the government and the Court of Constitutional Guarantees. From that moment on, the Samper government tried to negotiate with that of the Generalitat throughout the summer to try to reach an agreement, but the CEDA accused it of lack of energy in the "rabassaire question" and ended up withdrawing its support, which open the crisis of October 1934. [ 153 ]

The October Revolution of 1934

After the announcement by the CEDA that it was withdrawing parliamentary support for the government of Ricardo Samper and demanding entry into it, the government resigned and the president of the republic Niceto Alcalá Zamora proposed Alejandro Lerroux again as president of a government that would include three ministers of the CEDA. As soon as the composition of the new government was made public, the socialists fulfilled their threat that they would unleash the "social revolution" if the CEDA acceded to the government and called the "revolutionary general strike" that would begin at 0:00 on October 5. . "Nothing would be the same after October 1934." [ 154 ]

The radicalization of the Socialists was due to the fact that since their "expulsion" from the government in September 1933 and especially after the defeat in the November 1933 elections, they abandoned the "parliamentary path" to achieve socialism and opted for the insurrectionary path to the seizure of power. [ 146 ] "That decision was reinforced by the activism of the socialist youths and by the events of February 1934 in Austria, when the Social Christian Chancellor [the equivalent of the Spanish CEDA] Dollfuss crushed a socialist rebellion by bombarding the working-class neighborhoods of Vienna, events interpreted by the Spanish socialists as a warning of what could await them in case the CEDA came to the government ". [155 ] The socialist sector that decided the change of strategy was headed by Francisco Largo Caballero , who from January 1934 accumulated the positions of president of the PSOE with that of secretary general of the UGT , in addition to being the most acclaimed leader by the Socialist Youth . [ 156 ]

The announced "revolutionary general strike" began on October 5 and was followed in practically all cities (not so in the countryside, which had just come out of its own strike), but the armed insurrection was reduced, except in Asturias , to some shootings and no important population was in the power of the revolutionaries. [ 157 ] In the Basque Country , where the nationalists did not support the uprising, the strike continued in some points until October 12, and the hardest armed confrontations took place in the mining area of ​​Vizcaya . At least 40 people were killed, most of them strikers killed by the guards. [ 158 ] In Éibarand Mondragón, the violent actions of the insurgents caused several victims, among them a prominent traditionalist leader and deputy Marcelino Oreja . [ 159 ]

Luis Companys , Civil Governor of Barcelona , in the article How the Republic was proclaimed in Barcelona ( Graphic World , number 1017, page 4, April 29, 1931).

Without any connection with the insurrectional socialist strike, the president of the Generalitat of Catalonia Lluís Companys proclaimed "the Catalan State within the Spanish Federal Republic" at around 8 pm on Saturday , October 6 , as a measure against "the monarchical forces and fascists ... who had assaulted power ”. [ 153 ] Companys then invited the formation of a "Provisional Government of the Republic" that would have its headquarters in Barcelona. [ 160 ] But the Catalan rebellion, lack of all planning and the support of the main working force in Catalonia, the CNT, was quickly dominated on October 7 by the intervention of the Army led by General Domingo Batet , whose moderate action prevented many more victims (eight soldiers and thirty-eight civilians died). [ 160 ] The President and the Councilors of the Generalitat were imprisoned and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia of 1932 was suspended (although the monarchical right demanded its definitive repeal). [ 153 ]

In Asturias , unlike the rest of Spain, there was a real outbreak of social revolution: the “Red October”. The reasons for the "Asturian difference" must be found in that there the CNT did join the Workers' Alliance proposed by the socialist labor organization ( PSOE - UGT ), hegemonic in Asturias (the Communist Party of Spainjoined very late after having fought the Alliance for months), and in which the insurrection was meticulously prepared, with previous calls for general strikes, and the provision of arms and dynamite obtained through petty theft in factories and mines, in addition to the training of militia groups. [ 161 ] For about two weeks the workers' militias made up of some 20,000 workers, mostly miners, took control of the Nalón and Caudal basins and then took over Gijón and Avilés and entered the region. capital Oviedo, although they could not occupy it completely (in the center of the city violent combats between the forces of order and the revolutionaries took place). [ 162 ] A "revolutionary committee", led by the socialist deputy Ramón González Peña , coordinated the local committees that arose in all the towns and tried to maintain the "revolutionary order", although it could not prevent the wave of violence that unleashed against owners, right-wing and religious people. Of the latter, 34 were murdered (something that had not happened in Spain since 1834-1835), in addition to 58 churches and convents, the Episcopal Palace, the Seminary and the Holy Chamber of the Oviedo Cathedral , which was dynamited.[ 163 ] In order to dominate the "Asturian Commune" the government had to resort to colonial troops (legionariesandregularsfrom Africa, under the command of ColonelYagüe), whilea column led by GeneralEduardo López Ochoareached OviedofromGalicia. The entire operation was being directed from Madrid byGeneral Franco, expressly commissioned by the Minister of WarDiego Hidalgo. On October 18 the insurgents surrendered. [ 162 ]The balance of victims was about 1,100 dead and 2,000 wounded among the insurgents, and about 300 deaths among the security forces and the army. [ 164 ]

The Spanish right (both the monarchist of Spanish Renovation , and the "accidentalist" of the CEDA ) interpreted the "October Revolution" as a work of the "Anti-Spain", of the "anti-homeland", in a vision " mythical-symbolic ”in which the Good was identified with the Homeland, Spain, which was defined according to the values ​​and ideas of the right. [ 165 ] This idea of ​​Spain took shape in the relationship with the Army, as expressed by the leader of the Spanish Renovation José Calvo Sotelo in a famous speech in which he said that the army was the "backbone" of the country. [ 166 ]On the other hand, the repressive action of the troops that put down the uprising was hardly mentioned by the right-wing parties or by their press, such as ABC or El Debate . [ 167 ] In addition, the anti-republican right took advantage of the insurrection of the left to incite an "authentic and saving revolution for Spain." [ 168 ] Thus, "October reaffirmed in the right, and especially in the monarchists, the conviction that if the State had reacted this time on time, it had not been because of the effectiveness of the [republican democratic] political institutions, but for the determination of the Armed Forces to act quickly and forcefully.-Column vertebral homeland , then called José Calvo Sotelo - so was the ultimate guarantee, reserving the traditional forces against revolutionary change that parliamentary regime seemed unable to conjure up ". [ 169 ]

The government repression of the "October Revolution" was very harsh. Some thirty thousand prisoners were taken throughout the country and, especially, the Asturian mining basins were subjected to harsh military repression, first (there were summary executions of alleged insurgents), and then by the civil guard, the latter headed by the commander Lisardo Doval , who would be transferred by order of the government. The detainees were tortured as a result of which several of them died. [ 169 ] Numerous leftist leaders were also detained, among them the socialist revolutionary committee headed by Francisco Largo Caballero., and the military courts handed down twenty death sentences although only two were executed, thanks to the fact that the president of the republic Niceto Alcalá Zamora commuted them to life imprisonment, resisting pressure from the CEDA and Renovación Española who demanded a much harsher repression . [ 169 ]

The former president of the government Manuel Azaña was also arrested in Barcelona, ​​where he had gone to attend the funeral of a friend, unjustly accused of having participated in the Catalan insurrection. [ 170 ] Initially he was interned on the ship “Ciudad de Cádiz”, anchored in the port of Barcelona and requisitioned by the government as a prison, and later he was confined in two ships of the Republican Navy , where he received hundreds of letters and telegrams of solidarity and support. [ 171 ] A group of intellectuals even signed an open letter to the Government denouncing the "persecution" that Azaña was being subjected to. [ 172 ]Finally, on December 24, the Supreme Court dismissed the accusation against Azaña for lack of evidence and ordered his immediate release. Azañá's dubiously legal detention had lasted ninety days. [ 173 ]

The radical-cedista governments (October 1934-December 1935)

Despite the fact that for the left the failure of the "October Revolution", from which both socialists and anarchists emerged split and very weakened, meant abandoning the "insurrectionary path", [ 174 ] "October" increased the right wing their fear that in a next attempt the "Bolshevik revolution" (as they called it) would end up triumphing. This accentuated their pressure on their governing partner, the Radical Party, to carry out a more decidedly "anti-reform" ("counterrevolutionary" policy). they said), which did not cease to produce growing tensions between the Republican center-right and the "accidentalist" Catholic right of the CEDA and the Agrarian Party (cheered from outside by the royalist right and by the fascists).[169] And ultimately "October" convinced the CEDA that it was necessary to reach the presidency of the government in order to take the "authoritarian turn" that the regime needed. The defeat of the "October Revolution" had shown the way: it was enough to provoke continuous government crises to advance positions. [ 175 ]

The most serious crisis caused by the CEDA occurred at the beginning of April 1935, when the three ministers of his party refused to approve the commutation of the death sentence of two of the socialist leaders of the "Revolution of Asturias" (the deputies Ramón González Peña and Teodomiro Menéndez). Lerroux sought a way out by forming a government that would leave the CEDA out, but the government that he formed did not get the necessary parliamentary support to govern, which finally forced him to accept the demands of the right: the CEDA would go from three to five ministers, one of them. They were the leader of the CEDA, José María Gil Robles, who demanded the Ministry of War for himself. Thus, in the new Lerroux government, formed on May 6, 1935, the majority was no longer held by the center-right Republicans, but by the non-Republican right (the CEDA and the Agrarian Party). [ 136 ]"Then the" rectification "of the Republic really began, with the radicals, who had broken all possible bridges with the left republicans and the socialists, subject to the will of the CEDA and to the revanchist demands of the bosses and landowners. ”. [ 176 ]

In relation to the "agrarian question", the reformist policy implemented from October 1934 to April 1935 by the liberal cedista Manuel Giménez Fernández (whose most ambitious project had been the Yunteros Law, which extended the occupation of lands by the Extremaduran peasants, for which he was branded a "white Bolshevik" by the landlord organizations and by his own party colleagues), [ 177 ] and the new Minister of Agriculture Nicasio Velayos Velayos , member of the Agrarian Party and great landowner, he immediately initiated a clearly "counter-reformist" policy.The first thing he did when occupying the ministry was not to renew the Law of YunterosFor this reason, thousands of families were immediately expelled from the lands they cultivated, and then on July 3 he presented the Law for the Reform of the Agrarian Reform, which was approved on August 1, 1935, and which entailed the definitive freezing of the reform started in the first biennium . [ 178 ] Likewise, the socialist organizations of day laborers were completely dismantled, the mixed juries in the countryside ceased to function, and more than 2,000 socialist and left-wing republican city councils were replaced by management commissions appointed by the government. All of this translated into a notable deterioration in the living conditions of day laborers, who had to accept lower wages if they wanted to have a job.[179]

Regarding the "social question", a "socio-labor counter-reform" was launched. The Mixed Juries were suspended and a decree was approved declaring "abusive strikes" illegal (those that were not strictly labor or did not have government authorization). [ 72 ] Thousands of workers were fired on the pretext of having participated in the strikes of the "October Revolution" or simply for belonging to a union. [ 176 ]The consequences of the “socio-labor counter-reform” were the freezing of wages, and even their reduction in certain sectors, and the increase in working hours in others. If to this is added the increase in unemployment as a consequence of the economic depression, it will be understood the difficult situation that the working classes experienced in those years. [ 72 ]

Regarding the "military question", Gil Robles emphasized the policy initiated by Minister Diego Hidalgo of reinforcing the role of the military of doubtful loyalty to the Republic. Thus, the most significant people occupied the key positions in the military leadership: General Fanjul , served as the undersecretary of the Ministry; General Franco, was the chief of the Central General Staff; General Emilio Mola was head of the Moroccan Army; the General Coded , the general direction of Aeronautics. All these generals will be the ones who will lead the revolt of July 1936 that started the Spanish civil war.. In contrast, the military most loyal to the republic were dismissed from their posts and officers considered "leftists" suffered professional reprisals. [ 180 ]

One of the agreements reached between the four parties forming the new government of Lerroux ( CEDA , Partido Agrario , Republican Party Liberal Democratic and Republican Party Radical ) formed in May 1935 was to present a draft "revision" of the Constitution (which was the most important point of the CEDA “minimum program” with which he ran for election). At the beginning of July 1935, they reached an agreement in principle and Lerroux presented a draft in the Cortes proposing the change or suppression of 41 articles, but the debates dragged on because the draft did not fully satisfy any party. [ 181 ]

Niceto Alcalá Zamora , President of the Republic

These disagreements about the scope of the reform of the Constitution and the question of the return to the Generalitat of Catalonia of some of the powers that had been suspended due to the "October Revolution" opened a crisis in the government. [ 182 ] Lerroux was replaced in the presidency of the executive by a confidant of the president of the republic Alcalá Zamora, the liberal financier Joaquín Chapaprieta , who maintained the radical-CEDA alliance with Lerroux and Gil Robles in the government, and included a Minister of the Regionalist League, to expand its parliamentary base. But this government, formed on September 25, was affected by the outbreak of the black market scandal, which caused the departure of Lerroux from the cabinet on October 29 and the rest of the radical ministers, and later by the Nombela affair that constituted the final blow for the Radical Republican Party, from which it would not recover. [ 182 ]

The collapse of the radicals convinced Gil Robles that the time had come to launch the third phase of his strategist to reach power and withdrew his support for the Chapaprieta government, on the pretext of his disagreement with the tax reform project . On December 9, 1935, the day that the 1931 Constitution was four years old (so from that moment on, a majority of 2/3 of the deputies was not necessary to modify the Constitution, but rather with the absolute majority), demanded for himself the presidency of the Government. [ 183 ]But the president of the republic Alcalá Zamora refused to give power to an "accidentalist" force that had not proclaimed its loyalty to the republic and commissioned the formation of a government to an independent of its trust. Manuel Portela Valladares on December 15 formed a center-right republican cabinet excluding the CEDA, but it was soon proven that this option did not have sufficient support in the Cortes and in the end Alcalá Zamora dissolved Parliament on January 7 and convened elections for February 16, 1936, the first round, and March 1, the second. [ 184 ]

Popular Front (1936-1939)

The formation of the coalition of the republican and socialist left headed by Manuel Azaña

Popular Front Program (January 1936)

The republican parties Republican Left, Republican Union and the Socialist Party, in representation of the same and the General Union of Workers; National Federation of Socialist Youth, Communist Party, Syndicalist Party, Marxist Unification Workers Party, without prejudice to leaving the postulates of their doctrines safe, have come to compromise a common political plan that serves as the foundation and poster for the coalition of their respective forces in the immediate electoral contest and government rule to be developed by the left-wing republican parties, with the support of the workers' forces, in the event of victory
As an indispensable supplement to public peace, the coalition parties they compromise:

12. To grant by law a broad amnesty for politico-social / crimes committed after November 1933, even if they had not been considered as such by the Courts

The republicans do not accept the principle of nationalization of the land and its free delivery to the peasants, requested by the delegates of the socialist party
The republican parties do not accept the measures of nationalization of the Bank proposed by the workers' parties; They know, however, that our banking system requires certain improvements if it is to fulfill the mission entrusted to it in the economic reconstruction of Spain
The republican parties do not accept the workers' control requested by the representation of the socialist party. ..

The proposal for the return to the republican-socialist alliance of the first biennium arose at the initiative of the leader of the left republicans Manuel Azaña , who had become after his arrest by the October Revolution a "political martyr" and a symbol for the left. Azaña toured the country giving three massive rallies: that of the Mestalla field (Valencia), on May 26; that of Baracaldo (Vizcaya), on July 14, and that of Comillas (Madrid), on October 20, in order to achieve a “republican intelligence” that would restore its democratic values ​​to the regime. [ 185 ]

In April 1935, Azaña had reached a pact of "Republican Conjunction" between his own party ( Izquierda Republicana ), the Republican Union of Diego Martínez Barrio , which had split in 1934 from the Radical Republican Party of Lerroux, and the Republican National Party. by Felipe Sánchez Román when we have the information . In mid-November 1935 Azaña offered the PSOE the formation of an electoral coalition based on the agreement of conjunction of the forces of the Republican left. [ 185 ]

While the socialist sector headed by Indalecio Prieto defended the agreement, the sector headed by Francisco Largo Caballero was reluctant to it and to reinforce the “working-class” part of the coalition imposed the inclusion of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) in it, which motivated the departure of the "Republican Conjunction" from Sánchez Román's party. The PCE, for its part, had changed its position with respect to the socialists (whom until then it had considered as "enemies" of the revolution) after the VII Congress of the III International held in Moscow in the summer of 1935, where Stalinhe had launched the new slogan of forming "anti-fascist fronts." Signing the pact of electoral coalition between the Left Republicans and Socialists took place on 15 January 1936. The PSOE when he signed his name did also on behalf of the PCE and other labor organizations (the Party Unionist of Angel Tab and the POUM ). [ 185 ]

The coalition program, which began to be called the “Popular Front”, despite the fact that that term did not appear in the document signed on January 15 and that it was a name that Azaña never accepted, [ 186 ] was that of Left Republicans (and only the aspirations of the "workers" forces were mentioned with which the Left Republicans disagreed). The program included, in the first place, amnesty for "political and social" crimes (the release of all those detained by the "October Revolution"), the continuity of the reformist legislation of the first biennium.and the resumption of the autonomy processes of the "regions". The government would be made up exclusively of left-wing Republicans and the Socialists would give it their support from parliament to carry out the agreed program. Thus, the alliance of 1936 was circumstantial, limited to the elections, and therefore quite different from that of 1931. [ 187 ]

The elections of February 1936

Faced with the electoral coalition of the left, the right could not oppose a homogeneous front as in 1933, because the CEDA, in its attempt to obtain power and prevent the triumph of the left, allied itself in some constituencies with the anti-republican forces ( Alphonsine monarchists, Carlists) and in others with the republican center-right (radicals, liberal democrats, progressive republicans), so it was impossible to present a common program. What Gil Robles intended to form was a "National Antirevolutionary Front" or a "Front of the Counterrevolution", based more on "anti" slogans than on a specific government program ("Against the revolution and its accomplices", was one of his slogans, "For God and for Spain!" was another, and raised the campaign as a battle between "Catholic Spain ... and the frightening, barbaric, atrocious revolution"). [ 188 ] [ 189 ]

A third “centrist” option was also presented to the elections, headed by the president of the government Portela Valladares and sponsored by the person who had appointed him, the president of the republic Niceto Alcalá-Zamora , which sought to consolidate a republican center that would overcome the bipolarization that arose from the October Revolution . [ 188 ]

The elections registered the highest turnout of the three general elections that took place during the Second Republic (72.9%), which was attributed to the workers' vote that did not follow the usual abstentionist slogans of the anarchists. According to the study carried out by historian Javier Tusell on the elections, which is still considered today as the best analysis of the elections, the result was a very balanced distribution of votes with a slight advantage of the left (47.1%) over the right (45.6%), while the center was limited to 5.3%, but as the electoral system gave priority to the winners, this translated into a comfortable majority for the “Popular Front” coalition. [ 190 ]In total, the "Popular Front" had 263 deputies (including 37 from the "Front d'Esquerres" of Catalonia) the right had 156 deputies (including only one fascist, who was from the Spanish Nationalist Party , since the Spanish Falange did not wanted to join the coalitions of the right because they offered few positions) and the center-right parties (including the nationalists of the Regionalist League and the PNV , and the Center Party that Portela Valladares had quickly formed with him. support from the Presidency of the Republic) amounted to 54 deputies. [ 191 ]“In the Popular Front, the first positions in the candidacies were almost always occupied by the Republicans of the Azaña party and on the right they went to the CEDA, which does not confirm, compared to what has been said on occasions, the triumph of extremes. Communist candidates were always in the last place on the Popular Front lists and the 17 deputies obtained, after obtaining only one in 1933, were the fruit of having managed to join that coalition and not the result of their real strength. The Falange added only 46,466 votes, 0.5% of the total ”. [ 191 ]

The Popular Front Government (February-July 1936)

As soon as the victory in the “Popular Front” elections was known, there was a first attempt at a “coup d'état” by the right wing to try to stop the handover of power to the victors. Gil Robles himself was the first who unsuccessfully tried to get the acting president of the government Manuel Portela Valladares to declare a "state of war" and cancel the elections. He was followed by General Franco, still head of the Army General Staff, who went ahead to give the pertinent orders to the military commanders to declare a state of war (which according to the Public Order Law of 1933 supposed that power passed to the military authorities), but was overruled by the still head of government Portela Valladaresand by the Minister of War, General Nicolás Molero . [ 192 ]

The result of the attempted “coup de force” was exactly the opposite of that anticipated. The acting prime minister handed over power to the winning coalition ahead of time, without waiting for the second round of elections to take place (scheduled for March 1). Thus, on Wednesday February 19, Manuel Azaña , the leader of the "Popular Front", formed a government that, according to the agreement, was only made up of left-wing Republican ministers (nine from the Republican Left and three from the Republican Union ). [ 193 ]One of the first decisions that the new government made was to remove the most anti-republican generals from the centers of power: General Goded was assigned to the military command of the Balearic Islands; General Franco, to the Canary Islands; General Mola to the military government of Pamplona. Other generals of significance, such as Orgaz, Villegas, Fanjul and Saliquet, were left available. [ 194 ]

Presidential banner of Manuel Azaña .

The most urgent measure that the new government had to take was the amnesty of those convicted of the events of October 1934, something that was vociferously demanded in the demonstrations that followed the electoral triumph, and which had already led to the opening of several prisons. , from which not only the "political" prisoners but also the "social" ones emerged. The amnesty released some 30,000 "political and social" prisoners. [ 195 ] Another urgent measure was to reinstate the mayors and councilors elected in 1931 and suspended during the " black biennium " by the radical-cedist governments that replaced them with right-wing managers. [ 196 ]And on February 28, the government decreed not only the reinstatement of all workers fired for political and union reasons related to the events of 1934, but also, under pressure from the unions, ordered the companies to compensate these workers for their wages. non-subscribers. [ 197 ]

The release of the members of the government of the Generalitat of Catalonia from prison, benefited by the amnesty, was immediately accompanied by a Decree of March 1 that resumed the functions of the Parliament and reinstated Lluís Companys as president of the Generalitat and its advisers. [ 195 ] Also the Azana government decided the refund in its functions of Basque municipalities suspended in 1934. [ 195 ]

The “agrarian question” was another problem that the new government had to urgently address because of the intense peasant mobilization that was taking place with the determined support of the local authorities that had been returned and that threatened to provoke serious conflicts in the countryside. [ 198 ] “A few days before the elections, some eighty thousand Andalusian, La Mancha and Extremadura peasants summoned by the [socialist] FNTT , launched themselves to occupy the farms from which they had been evicted in the winter of 1934-35 [ by the radical-cedista governments]. Thus a fait accompli was produced, which obliged the Ministry of Agriculture to adopt appropriate measures to re-enforce the legislation of the first biennium ". [ 199 ]The most spectacular movement of occupation of farms was the one organized by the FNTT since March 26 in the province of Badajoz in which some 60,000 day laborers participated who invaded and began to plow about two thousand properties. [ 198 ] On April 19, the Minister of Agriculture, Mariano Ruiz Funes , presented several bills, including one that repealed the Agrarian Reform Law of August 1935, which became law on June 11 Therefore, the Agrarian Reform Law of 1932 was back in full force . Thanks to various decrees and this law between March and July 1936, some 115,000 peasants settled, more than in the previous three years. [200 ] However, the high level of conflict in the countryside continued, mainly due to the attitude of the owners and the radicalization of peasant organizations, leading to violent incidents. The most serious case occurred in Yeste (Albacete) where at the end of May 1936 "the arrest of some peasants who tried to cut down trees on a private farm led to a bloody confrontation between the Civil Guard and the day laborers, in which a guard and 17 peasants, several of them murdered in cold blood by the agents ". [ 201 ]

On April 3, once the heated discussion of the parliamentary acts had been resolved, the left presented an initiative to remove the President of the Republic, accusing him of having breached Article 81 of the Constitution. [ 202 ] Four days later, on April 7, by 238 votes to 5 (the right abstained, after having supported the measure), Alcalá Zamora was dismissed by parliament. On April 26, the elections for delegates established by the Constitution and Manuel Azaña were held., the candidate of the left, obtained 358 mandates, and 63 the opposition, part of which had abstained from running for election. Thus, on May 10, 1936, he was invested as the new president, establishing his residence in the Quinta de El Pardo , where his kidnapping by conspiratorial elements was planned. [ 203 ] However, Azaña's project of appointing the socialist Indalecio Prieto as his replacement at the head of the government did not materialize due to the opposition of the "caballerista" wing of the PSOE and the UGT, which was ratified in the agreement to continue outside the cabinet, and on May 13, one of Azaña's most loyal collaborators, Santiago Casares Quiroga , became president of the government.[ 204 ] [ 205 ] after having shuffled other names and give up taking office a day before the candidate proposed by all groups of thePopular Front,Diego Martinez Barrio. [ 206 ]

The new Casares Quiroga government continued with the reformist policy that the Azaña government had already initiated, which consisted fundamentally of re-enacting the decrees that had been repealed or modified during the second biennium ( the left called it " black biennium ") and the some others were added. [ 207 ]

One of the problems that the government had to face was the wave of strikes that were declared and sustained many times by joint CNT / UGT committees, in which many of them spoke of revolution, [ 208 ] but neither the UGT nor the CNT were preparing any insurrectionary movement after the failures of 1932, 1933, and 1934, and the only possibility of one occurring would be in response to an attempted military coup. [ 209 ]

Another of the problems of the government of Casares Quiroga was the internal division of the PSOE, the most important party of the Popular Front that was supposed to support the government, as well as the increasingly accused orientation of the CEDA towards anti-republican positions. "In this way, the government was left unassisted by its natural allies and harassed from the right by an emboldened monarchical opposition that was already dragging the Catholics with force and from the left by a sector of the PSOE that, if it had renounced the revolution, expected with impatience when it comes to replacing the republican government with an exclusively socialist one. " [ 210 ] As for the Socialists, the differences between the "prietista" and "largocaballerista" sectors were accentuated, since Largo Caballero,The UGT and the PSOE parliamentary group continued to oppose the entry into the government of the socialists and defend the understanding between the "workers organizations" to await the moment when the failure of the "bourgeois republicans" would facilitate the conquest of power by the Largo Caballero also had the unconditional support of the Socialist youths who called him the "Spanish Lenin." These increasingly radicalized youths ended up merging with the Communist Youths of the PCE to form in June 1936, the Unified Socialist Youths . under the leadership of the young socialist Santiago Carrillo . [ 211 ]Regarding the CEDA, the sector headed by José María Gil Robles opted more and more for the boycott of republican institutions and for the support of the path defended by the monarchical right of the National Bloc of José Calvo Sotelo that openly advocated the rupture violent constitutional order through a military coup d'état in whose preparation they were already collaborating (for their part, the Carlist monarchists accelerated the formation of their requete militias with a view to the military uprising with whose leaders they maintained contacts). [ 212 ]

Another problem was the increase in political violence caused by the "strategy of tension" deployed by the fascist Spanish Falange party. After the triumph of the Popular Front and catastrophic results for FE de las JONS in the elections, this formation continued the escalation of violence in the confrontation it already had with socialists and communists [ n. 1 ] and registered an avalanche of affiliations of right-wing youth. [ 214 ] The first important attack they committed was the one perpetrated on March 12 against the socialist deputy and "father" of the 1931 Constitution Luis Jiménez de Asúa , in which he was unharmed but his bodyguard, the police officer Jesús Gisbert, he died.[ 215 ] The Azana government's response was to ban the party, detain its top leaderJosé Antonio Primo de Riveraand other members of its “Political Board” on March 14, and shut down its newspaper Arriba . But going into hiding did not prevent him from continuing to carry out attacks and participate in brawls with young socialists and communists. [ 214 ] [ 216 ]It also continued to carry out acts of violence and intimidation against elements of the institutional order of the Republic. On the night of April 13, two Falangist gunmen murdered Manuel Pedregal, a Supreme Court magistrate, in the street in retaliation for having acted as a speaker in the trial for the attempted murder of Jiménez de Asúa. The judge had previously received death threats for this reason. Several of those involved fled to France by plane piloted by the then Falange collaborator , Juan Antonio Ansaldo . [ 217 ] [ 218 ] [ 219 ] In fact, Falange spread Blacklistsof judges with the purpose of intimidating them, and their clandestine bulletin No Importa threatened magistrates such as Ursicino Gómez Carbajo or Ramón Enrique Cardónigo, who had intervened in cases with a sentence unfavorable to their interests. [ 220 ]

The most significant incidents occurred on April 14 and 15. On the 14th a military parade took place on the Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the republic and next to the main tribune, occupied by the acting president of the republic Diego Martínez Barrio and by the president of the government Manuel Azaña , an artifact exploded and then several shots were fired that caused the death of Anastasio de los Reyes , an ensign of the Civil Guardwho was there in civilian clothes, and wounded several onlookers. Rightists and leftists accused each other of the attack. The following day the lieutenant's funeral was held, which turned into an anti-republican demonstration attended by deputies Gil Robles and Calvo Sotelo, army officers and armed Falangists. Shots were fired at the entourage from various places, which were responded to, resulting in six dead and three wounded. One of the dead was the student Andrés Sáenz de Heredia, a Falangist and first cousin of José Antonio Primo de Rivera. [ 216 ] The death of Sáenz de Heredia was attributed by the right to the members of the Assault Guard section commanded by LieutenantCastillo , instructor of the Unified Socialist Youth militias . A young Carlist medical student named José Llaguno Acha was also injured . In the first hours there were more than 170 detainees for crimes such as public disorder, use of firearms or resistance to authority, most of them affiliated with the Falange. [ 221 ]

Between April and July, the attacks and brawls led by Falangists caused more than fifty victims among left-wing labor organizations, most of them in Madrid. Some forty members of the Falange were killed in these acts or in retaliatory attacks by left-wing organizations. [ 216 ] These were directed against both entrepreneurs and activists of right - wing parties, such as former minister and member of the Republican Party Liberal Democratic Alfredo Martinez [ citation needed ], shot in Oviedo on March 22 and died three days later (according to the family, the crime was prepared by right-wing elements, within the framework of the daily destabilization of republican institutions, although it remained unclear) [ 222 ] , as well as social headquarters and anti-republican newspapers, such as the Madrid daily La Nación . Religious buildings were also subjected to violence (a hundred churches and convents were attacked and set on fire) [ 223 ] although there were no clergy members among the victims of the political violence from February to July. [ 224 ]

This "strategy of tension" carried out by the Falangist gunmen, which was responded to by the leftist organizations, along with the growth of paramilitary youth organizations both among the right (Falangist militias, Carlist requetés) and between the left (youth militias). socialists, communists and anarchists), and among Basque and Catalan nationalists (militias of the Republican Esquerra of Catalonia and PNV militias), although they were not armed and their main activity was parading, it caused the perception among part of the public opinion, especially the conservative, that the Popular Front government was not capable of maintaining public order, which served as a justification for the military "coup" that was being prepared. [ 225] The Catholic and far-right press, which incited rebellion against the "disorder" that it attributed to the "tyrannical Government of the Popular Front", "enemy of God and the Church," also contributed to this perception, taking advantage of the fact that the confrontation betweenClericalismandanticlericalismreturned to the fore after the February elections with continuous disputes over symbolic matters, such as the ringing of bells or manifestations of worship outside churches, such as processions or Catholic funerals. [ 224 ] Likewise in Parliament, the right-wing deputies, notablyJosé Calvo SoteloandJosé María Gil Robles, they accused the government of having lost control of public order, although Minister Casares Quiroga responded thus to Calvo Sotelo on one occasion: " The absolute order that was registered throughout Spain on May 1 (1936) has created a great spite and they do everything necessary to alter it. In searches carried out by the police in right-wing homes, even explosive dum-dum bullets have been found. Thirteen thousand weapons have been collected in Granada and seven thousand in Jaén, all in the possession of people and extreme right-wing organizations. " [ 226 ] On the other hand, in the session of June 17, 1936, Gil-Robles denounced the disorders that, according to him, had occurred from February 1 to June 15:"160 churches destroyed, 251 assaults on temples, smothered fires, destruction, attempted assaults. 269 ​​dead. 1287 wounded of different severity. 215 frustrated personal attacks or whose consequences are not recorded. 69 private and political centers destroyed, 312 buildings attacked. 113 general strikes, 228 partial strikes. 10 newspapers totally destroyed, all right wing. 83 assaults on newspapers, attempted assaults and destruction. 146 bombs and explosive devices. 38 collected unexploded. "

Statutes of autonomy.

In 1931 a Statute of Autonomy of the Balearic Islands was proposed .

The proposed Statute of Autonomy for Galicia is submitted to a plebiscite for four years on June 28, 1936, in accordance with the norms of a decree of the Presidency of the State of May 1933. The draft Statute of Autonomy of Galicia was delivered in the Cortes on July 15, 1936, together with the Draft Statute of Autonomy of Aragon , and was transferred to the Congress of Deputies to be admitted for processing.

In Castilla la Vieja and in the Region of León , during the Second Republic, especially in 1936, there was a great regionalist activity favorable to a region of eleven provinces (Ávila, Burgos, León, Logroño, Palencia, Salamanca, Santander, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid and Zamora), even some bases of statute of autonomy were elaborated that were published in El Norte de Castilla . The Diario de León advocated the formalization of this initiative and the constitution of an autonomous region with these words: "unite León and Castilla la Vieja in one personality around the great Duero basin , without now falling into village rivalries" (Diario de León , May 22, 1936). In the end, the civil war ended the aspirations of autonomy for the two regions. [ 227 ]

A National Assembly is set for the last Sunday in September 1936 to debate and modify the preliminary draft and approve the draft Statute of Autonomy of Andalusia . On October 1, 1936, the Cortes approved the Statute of the Basque Country by acclamation .

On February 1, 1938, the Cortes admitted the Statute of Autonomy of Galicia , which was neither rejected nor approved.

In Asturias , a statute of autonomy was drafted by Avilesino law professor Sabino Álvarez Gendín , which was never processed.

A Draft Statute of Autonomy for Cantabria was presented on June 5, 1936 at the Santander City Council, and dated June 8 at the Provincial Council.

The military conspiracy

The military conspiracy to unleash a "coup of force" (as the conspirators called it) that overthrew the government was launched as soon as the triumph of the "Popular Front" in the February 1936 elections, initially relying on the coup plotters. that had been remade after the failure of the Sanjurjada . [ 228 ] The day after the Azana government was formed, the Traditionalist Communion newspaper El Pensamiento Alavés already stated " that it would not be in Parliament where the last battle would be fought, but in the field of armed struggle " and that struggle would start from " a new Covadongathat in the face of the revolution it would serve as a refuge for those who fled from it and undertook the Reconquest of Spain . [ 229 ]

The General Sanjurjo in 1932.

On March 8, a meeting of several generals ( Emilio Mola , Luis Orgaz Yoldi , Villegas, Joaquín Fanjul , Francisco Franco , Ángel Rodríguez del Barrio , Miguel García de la Herrán , Manuel González Carrasco , Andrés Saliquet and Miguel Ponte , along with Colonel José Enrique Varela and Lieutenant Colonel Valentín Galarza , as a man from the UME ), in which they agreed to organize a “military uprising” that would overthrow the government of the recently constituted Popular Front Y "restore order in the interior and the international prestige of Spain ”. It was also agreed that the government would be carried out by a Military Junta presided over by General Sanjurjo , who at that time was in exile in Portugal . [ 230 ]

The political character of the “military movement” was not agreed, but for their organization they would resort to the clandestine structure of the UME made up of conservative and anti-Zañista officials and they even set the date of the coup, for April 20, but the suspicions of the government and the arrest of Orgaz and Varela, confined in the Canary Islands and in Cádiz, respectively, forced them to postpone the date. Furthermore, the government had already decided to "disperse" the suspected generals and had assigned Goded to the Balearic Islands, Franco to the Canary Islands and Mola to Pamplona. [ 231 ]

From the end of April, it was General Mola who took over the leadership of the coup plot (thus moving the center of the conspiracy from Madrid to Pamplona), adopting the code name of "The Director." He continued with the project of establishing a Military Junta presided over by General Sanjurjo, and began to draft and disseminate a series of circulars or "reserved instructions" in which he outlined the complex plot that the coup would carry out. [ 231 ]

The first of five "secret instructions" dictated on May 25 and it already appeared the idea that the coup would have to be accompanied by violent repression: [ 232 ]

It will be taken into account that the action must be extremely violent in order to reduce the enemy as soon as possible, who is strong and well organized. Of course, all directors of political parties, societies and unions not affected by the Movement will be imprisoned, and exemplary punishments will be applied to said individuals to strangle rebellion movements or strikes.

Mola managed to get Republican generals like Gonzalo Queipo de Llano (chief of the police ) and Miguel Cabanellas to join the conspiracy . [ 231 ] With the latter, who was the head of the V Organic Division, he held an interview in Zaragoza on June 7 in which they agreed on the measures to dominate the opposition that " would be opposed by the great trade union mass " and the organization of the " Columns that had to oppose the Catalans could invade the Aragonese territory ". [ 233 ]

Mola managed to involve numerous garrisons in the coup, also thanks to the clandestine plot of the UME led by Colonel Valentín Galarza (whose code name was "El Técnico"), but Mola did not have all of them, and especially had doubts about the triumph of the coup in the fundamental place, Madrid, and also over Catalonia, Andalusia and Valencia. [ 231 ]

Thus, the problem for the military involved was that, unlike the coup in 1923, they now did not have the entire Army (neither the Civil Guard nor the other security forces) to back it up. "The divisions that had manifested within the army itself since the Dictatorship ... during the Republic had reached a singular degree of virulence with the creation of military unions confronted by the question of the political regime [UME, Unión Militar Española , monarchical; and the republican Union Militar Republicana Antifascista , UMRA, with a much smaller influence] ". [ 234 ]

Nor could they count as in 1923 on the connivance of the head of state (King Alfonso XIII then, and the president of the republic Manuel Azaña now). A third difference with respect to 1923 was that the attitude of the workers' and peasant organizations would not be passive in the face of the military coup, as in 1923, but rather that, as they had announced, they would unleash a revolution. For these reasons the date of the military coup was delayed again and again, and for that reason, in addition, General Mola, "the Director", sought the support of the militias of the anti-republican parties (Repetés and Falangists) and financial backing. of the parties of the right. [ 235 ] But the participation of these civilian paramilitary forces was put on hold for the moment because the main Carlist leaderManuel Fal Conde wanted to give a leading role to "traditionalism" in the coup, reaching direct contact with General Sanjurjo, something that the military were not willing to consent to, and because Falange leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera, imprisoned in Alicante, that in principle he was willing to collaborate, demanded his share of power, which was not accepted by the conspiratorial generals either. [ 231 ]

The Casares Quiroga government received news from various sources of what was being plotted but did not act forcefully against the conspirators because, according to the historian Julio Aróstegui , "Azaña and many elements of his party, and Casares Quiroga himself, head of the government, they did not believe that after having easily neutralized the Sanjurjo coup in 1932 in the army there would be the capacity to prepare a serious action, also believing that they had controlled the possible leaders and that in the event that this rebellion occurred it would be easy abort it. " [ 236 ] On May 1, 1936, at a rally held in Cuenca , the socialist Indalecio Prietowarns that a military uprising led by Franco is being prepared; [ 237 ] On May 12, Mayor Juan Quintero Guerra, from the Candelaria (Tenerife) city ​​council , will urge this municipal corporation to agree to request from the Government of the Republic the urgent and immediate relief of the military commander. Francisco Franco, as well as reiterating to the civil governor of the province the adhesion of the Corporation for its energetic and resolute attitude in defense of the civil power.

Maps that represent the plans outlined by Mola to give the Coup d'état that overthrew the Second Republic.

At the beginning of July 1936 the preparation for the military coup was almost finished, although General Mola recognized that " enthusiasm for the cause has not yet reached the necessary degree of exaltation " and accused the Carlists of continuing to make difficulties by continuing to ask " inadmissible concessions ". The plan of General Emilio Mola , "the Director", was a coordinated uprising of all the compromised garrisons, which would implement a state of war in their demarcations, beginning with the Army of Africa, which between July 5 and 12 carried out some maneuvers in the Yellow Plain where the details of the uprising in the Protectorate of Morocco were completed. As it was expected that in Madrid it was difficult for the coup to triumph by itself (the uprising in the capital would be under the command of General Fanjul), it was planned that from the north a column led by Mola himself would head towards Madrid to support the uprising. from the garrison of the capital. And if all that failed, it was also planned that General Franco (who on June 23 had addressed a letter to the Prime Minister Casares Quiroga in which he said that the government's suspicions that a military coup was being hatched were not true -when he himself was one of the generals involved, claiming that " those who present the Army as disaffected to the Republic are misleading; those who simulate plots tailored to their murky passions are deceiving them."), after revolting the Canary Islands, he would go from there to the Moroccan Protectorate aboard the Dragon Rapide plane , chartered in London on July 6 by the correspondent of the newspaper ABC Luis Bolín thanks to the money contributed by Juan March , to get to the in front of the colonial troops cross the Strait of Gibraltar and advance on Madrid , from the south and from the west. [ 238 ]

Once the capital was controlled, the President of the Republic and the Government would be deposed, the Cortes would be dissolved, the 1931 Constitution would be suspended, all the leaders and militants of the parties and organizations of the left would be arrested and tried as well. as well as the military who had not wanted to join the uprising and, finally, a military Directory would be constituted under the leadership of General Sanjurjo(which would fly from Lisbon to Spain). But what would happen next was never clear since nothing had been agreed on the form of the state, or republic or monarchy (for example, nothing was decided on which flag would be used, if the monarchy's bicolor, instead of the tricolor of the Republic, since it was thought in a fast and forceful action). The objective was to establish a military dictatorship following the model of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship , led by the exiled General Sanjurjo. [ 239 ]

Thus, what the conscripted military was going to launch was not a 19th-century-style pronouncement (since in these cases the regime or political system was not discussed in general, but rather they were only trying to force certain partisan "situations"), but that went much further. The problem was that the military and the political forces that supported them (fascists, Alphonsine monarchists, Carlist, Catholics of the CEDA) defended different political projects, although they all agreed that the "future situation" would not be democratic, and not liberal, either. because the underlying social meaning of the conspiracy was unequivocal: "counterrevolution", even if it was against a revolution that did not exist in practice.Tomás Borrás and that they spoke of a Soviet government that was preparing, and in fact what they represented was the defense of the positions of the old ruling classes, the fight against social reforms, more or less deep, that the Popular Front puts anew up. " [ 240 ]

On the afternoon of Sunday, July 12, the lieutenant of the Assault Guard, José del Castillo Sáez de Tejada , a military instructor of the militias , was assassinated in a central Madrid street by extreme right-wing gunmen (apparently from the Traditionalist Communion ). socialists. In retaliation, his fellow police officers, led by a Civil Guard captain , Fernando Cortés, kidnapped from his own home and murdered José Calvo Sotelo, the leader of the "Alfonsino" monarchists (who had nothing to do with the murder of Lieutenant Castillo), and they left the body in the deposit of the Almudena cemetery. At the burial of Calvo Sotelo, the monarchical leader Antonio Goicoecheasolemnly vowed "to consecrate our lives to this triple task: to imitate your example, avenge your death and save Spain ." For his part, the leader of the CEDA, José María Gil Robles in the Cortes told the deputies of the left that " the blood of Mr. Calvo Sotelo is on you " and accused the government of having the " moral responsibility " of the crime for " Sponsor violence ." [ 241 ]

The assassination of Calvo Sotelo accelerated the commitment to the uprising of the Carlists and also of the CEDA, and ended up convincing the military that they had doubts. In addition, Mola decided to take advantage of the commotion he had caused in the country twice crime, and day 14 forward the date of the uprising that was scheduled for 17 and 18 July 1936. [ 242 ]

Second Republic at war

The government's reaction to the military uprising

On the afternoon of Friday, July 17, it was known in Madrid that a military uprising had started in the Moroccan Protectorate . The following day the uprising spread to the peninsula and the workers' organizations ( CNT and UGT ) demanded "arms for the people" to end it, to which the government of Santiago Casares Quiroga refused. [ 243 ]

On the night of that Saturday, July 18, Casares Quiroga presented his resignation to the president of the republic, Manuel Azaña, and he commissioned Diego Martínez Barrio , president of the Cortes and leader of the Republican Union , to form a government that would "stop the rebellion." without resorting to the armed support of the workers' organizations. Martínez Barrio included moderate politicians in his cabinet willing to reach some kind of agreement with the rebel soldiers. [ 244 ]And at dawn from Saturday 18 to Sunday 19 July, he spoke by phone with General Emilio Mola, "The Director" of the uprising, but he flatly refused any type of transaction. Thus, the "conciliation government" of Martínez Barrio resigned and Azaña appointed on the same Sunday, July 19, a man from his party José Giral , who formed a government made up solely of left-wing Republicans, although with the explicit support of the Socialists, who made the decision to hand over arms to the workers' organizations, something that Martínez Barrio had also refused because, like Casares Quiroga, he considered that this fact crossed the threshold of the constitutional and "legal" defense of the Republic.

Because of this decision to "hand over arms to the people" the republican state lost the monopoly of coercion, so it could not prevent a social revolution from starting , since the workers' organizations did not take to the streets "exactly to defend the Republic ... but to make the revolution. (...) A counterrevolutionary coup, which tried to stop the revolution, finally ended up unleashing it. [ 246 ]

The social revolution of 1936 and the government of José Giral (July-September 1936)

The delivery of arms to the workers' parties and organizations made them quickly constitute "