History

Spain History: from Alfonso XII to the Primo De Rivera Dictatorship

The period 1874-98 finally brought political tranquility to Spain, thanks to a stable democratic-parliamentary structure, and undeniable socio-economic progress. The constitutional monarchy (Alfonso XII, and after his death in 1885, the regent Maria Cristina of Habsburg in the name of her son Alfonso XIII) and enlightened “civil” statesmen, such as A. Cánovas del Castillo and PM Sagasta, leaders of the two parties that alternated peacefully in power (conservatives and liberals, close to the English model), made effective the fundamental freedoms of conscience, association, press and education, and civil conquests, such as the popular jury and universal suffrage. The consolidation of an active bourgeoisie – especially in Catalonia and the Basque Country, where commercial enterprises, industries and banks multiplied -, public works, in particular the railways (albeit largely financed by foreign capital), the development of agriculture, made it possible to overcome, at least in part, the strong gap between Spain and the rest of Europe.

According to Sportsqna, the population increased (from 15 to 20 million in half a century) and the standard of living rose. But there was also a downside: poor political morality (rigged elections, political intrusiveness of the large owner-voters, patronage, corruption in local governments, splits within the parties, which ultimately discredited the democratic regime), increasingly accentuated imbalance between the increase in population and that of agricultural and industrial production, trade balance almost always in deficit, development of social movements (the anarchist first and the socialist one) and autonomist tendencies of the richest regions (Catalonia and the Basque Country), repressed in vain by the rigid centralism of Madrid. But the most deleterious factor for the fate of the fragile Spanish democracy was the long question of Cuba, which, after an interminable guerrilla war in the colony, resulted in the corruption in local governments, splits within the parties, which ultimately discredited the democratic regime), increasingly accentuated imbalance between the increase in population and that of agricultural and industrial production, trade balance almost always in deficit, development of movements social (the anarchist first and the socialist one) and autonomist tendencies of the richest regions (Catalonia and the Basque Country), repressed in vain by the rigid centralism of Madrid. But the most deleterious factor for the fate of the fragile Spanish democracy was the long question of Cuba, which, after an interminable guerrilla war in the colony, resulted in the corruption in local governments, splits within the parties, which ultimately discredited the democratic regime), increasingly accentuated imbalance between the increase in population and that of agricultural and industrial production, trade balance almost always in deficit, development of movements social (the anarchist first and the socialist one) and autonomist tendencies of the richest regions (Catalonia and the Basque Country), repressed in vain by the rigid centralism of Madrid. But the most deleterious factor for the fate of the fragile Spanish democracy was the long question of Cuba, which, after an interminable guerrilla war in the colony, resulted in the increase in population and that of agricultural and industrial production, trade balance almost always in deficit, development of social movements (the anarchist first and the socialist one) and autonomist tendencies of the richest regions (Catalonia and Basque Country), repressed in vain by the rigid centralism of Madrid. But the most deleterious factor for the fate of the fragile Spanish democracy was the long question of Cuba, which, after an interminable guerrilla war in the colony, resulted in the increase in population and that of agricultural and industrial production, trade balance almost always in deficit, development of social movements (the anarchist first and the socialist one) and autonomist tendencies of the richest regions (Catalonia and Basque Country), repressed in vain by the rigid centralism of Madrid. But the most deleterious factor for the fate of the fragile Spanish democracy was the long question of Cuba, which, after an interminable guerrilla war in the colony, resulted in the war of 1898 against the United States, lost in a few weeks, and in the forced abandonment of the last remains of the immense empire of Charles V. This resulted in serious economic damage, but much more serious was the moral one.

The reign of Alfonso XIII (1902-31) saw, on the one hand, the progressive decline of the parliamentary regime, despite the honesty of politicians such as A. Maura, J. Canalejas Mendaz and E. Dato (the last two murdered deaths), and on the other the worsening of political and social tensions, with strikes, riots and harsh repressions (“tragic week” in Barcelona, ​​1909). Continuous government crises (thirty-three in twenty years, 1902-23), mostly useless and incomprehensible to the masses, fueling mistrust in parliamentary democracy, led the king to intervene ever more heavily in politics, behind his own ministers and with the support of the army. Unaware of the lesson of Cuba, the generals sought prestige and promotions in another unfortunate colonial war, in Morocco this time, and thanks to the king, after a long drain of men and money, they ran into the defeat of Anoual. (1921). This, coinciding with the serious economic crisis that followed the First World War (during which Spain, thanks to its neutrality, had made large profits by trading with all the belligerents), brought popular exasperation to its peak. Unanimous for the first (and perhaps last) time, Parliament and the country demanded the punishment of those responsible, who were left with the last resort, many times successfully experienced in the century. XIX: the coup d’état and the military dictatorship, personified by General M. Primo de Rivera (1923-30). To his credit were, undoubtedly, the re-establishment of public order and a notable economic recovery, thanks also to a vast program of public works, electrification, iron and steel production. But the authoritarian paternalism of the dictatorship did not solve any really important problem in the country: it limited itself to freezing them all, taking them for granted. Also undermined by the opposition of intellectuals (such as Unamuno), the fragile regime fell apart at the first impact against a stronger reality: the world economic crisis of 1930. And only a little more than a year after the fall of the dictator, on April 14 1931, simple municipal elections also brought down the monarchy.

Spain History Primo De Rivera