Social, Economic and Political Factors Involved in the Spanish Civil War
With reference to any civil war in the 20th century examine the
social, economic and political background to the divisions in the society
involved. To what extent were the problems which caused the war resolved
in the post-war period?
The state of Spain during the early years of the 20th century can be
said to have been a state of great "unease". Spain was one of the first
powers to loose her imperial influence, the state was politically unstable,
industrially weak and had suffered some humiliating defeats. It can be
said that these were the main causes that lead to the great instability of
Spain during the Civil war and post civil war periods.
Left-winged radicalism and nationalistic movements, such as the
Catalan movement frequently came into conflict with the central government,
which lead the government to use corruption more and more frequently as a
form of control. The result was a military coup in 1923 lead by Miguel
Primo de Rivera. Rivera preferred a more direct way of governing, with a
strong Christian base and a very anti-communist attitude. He did not like
party politics, preferring to govern pragmatically, at first with a
military cabinet, but later on (1926) he decided a systematic government
would be more efficient. So he introduced the `National Assembly' intended
to represent different classes and groups, probably to soften the
opposition; as well as the Union Patriotica, created to mobilize popular
support for his regime.
Rivera also managed to strengthen the Spanish infra-structure, but
the funding had to come from loans from other nations, because the upper
classes would not accept a overhaul in the taxation system. He also
managed to encourage industrial growth, which did work to a certain extent
because of many internal problems, and the big depression.
These financial and political, as well as social difficulties led his
regime to end in 1930 because it was unable to stop the attacks from the
left, as well as attacks from the reluctant military (who did not like his
ideas of officer minimalisation).
The next elections were won by the republicans, led by Azana, without
too much difficulty. The Republic lasted 8 years before another military
coup, led by general Franco, took over the government.
The Republic tried to set out major reforms, intending to restructure
the whole of Spain. The eight-hour working day was set up, as well as a
reduction of officers in the armed forces (by the form of early retirement).
Voting rights were given to people at the age of 23, the nobility was
abolished and, severe measures were taken against the Church, especially
religious education (considered, in a way, a form of propaganda). The
region of Catalonia was given some self-governing privileges, like the
control of it's own police. The problem was that these...