Causes of Spanish Civil War notes

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Long and short term causes for Spanish Civil War IB...


Spanish Civil War (1936-39) THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM: Right Wing - Nationalists. Includes Army, Church, landowners, monarchists, CEDA, and Franco's Fascist Party, Falange. Left Wing - Republicans. Includes socialists, communists, anarchists, trade unionists and moderate liberals. LONG-TERM CAUSES (1800s - 1930) 1. Socio-Economic Spain is poor and weak, economically backwards, mainly agricultural and uneducated. Rural  Poor conditions  2/3 of Spain's population were poor peasants  Extreme polarization of wealth between landlords and landless labourers  Those working on large estates known as 'latifundia' in the South were exploited by landowners:  Wages were low  One-crop farming, so work was only available during certain seasons  No financial security, unemployment common

Urban  Towns were not much better  Housed in slums, living conditions overcrowded, unsanitary and rent high  Low wages, no min. wage, max. working hours, protection from dangerous working conditions   

However it was easier to join political groups that the ruling classes feared Trade unions and strikes COMMUNISM (Sounds like USSR)

Political implications:  Increased appeal of far-left parties and unions to promote social reform  Rise in left-wing militancy  Increased appeal of far-right parties to preserve the social hierarchy and economic privilege of the elites 2. Political a. Separatism:  Basque and Catalonia had significant cultural and economic differences.  Distinctive language, culture and history  Sought greater autonomy and separation from Spanish state. Left – prepared to concede some autonomy Right – determined to preserve unity of Spain

b. Political system and monarchy:  Constitutional monarchy under King Alfonso XIII.  Elections/laws/parliament formed to benefit ruling class, not poor  Despite there being universal male suffrage since 1887, politics were not really democratic, influenced by local caciques (influential local “bosses”)  Elections and politics were rigged c. Left/Right division:  Two major left wing parties: anarchists and socialists.  Did not get along and refused to cooperate  Socialists felt they were respectful of the law and that reasoned discussion would one day resolve Spanish issues  The anarchists thought that the socialists supported repression, and resented them for not being willing to fight for worker rights  Anarchists had a trade union called the CNT and Socialist trade union was called the UGT.  Both of these parties were opposed to/ hostilities with the right wing. d. Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, 1923-1930:  Due to defeats and humiliation in Morocco, King Alfonso allowed a military dictatorship under General Miguel Primo de Rivera as of 1923  He created mass opposition against him  By failing to reform the tax system/economy, did not give peasants the land reform they wanted, and withdrew Catalonian rights  Primo de Rivera stepped down, with subsequent votes calling overwhelmingly for the abdication of King Alfonso  End of monarchial rule and establishment of Second Spanish Republic in 1931 3. Army and church  Army stood as a form of repression via tortures and shootings, and was hated for the way it brutally put down strikes with help from the armed police (Civil Guard)  Church was unpopular and limited education: as late as the 1900s, 64% of the population was illiterate. Church was also responsible for propaganda against liberalism, communism and democracy, and worked with the Army to utilise the feared 'INQUISITION' in order to produce blind obedience. The Church justified the Army's violence, and both were totally opposed to Basque and Catalonian separatism - they were both a Nationalistic force.  Can be accredited a crucial role in outbreak of SCW due to the fear, anger and divisions they caused, especially amongst the lower class. Again, the emphasis is that it led to a desire for change. SHORT-TERM CAUSES (THE SECOND REPUBLIC 1931-1936)

Left Republic: April 1931 - November 1933  Left took office first: the Republicans, under a man named Azana.  They widely reformed: started secular education/abolished support of Church; Reduced army size/number of officers ; allowed autonomy for Catalonia and land reforms for peasants.  The result; however, was disappointing.  Land reforms were blocked by the landowners, and were ineffective, and strikes were put down. Reforms were 'too much' for the right, and 'too little' for the left.  

Loss of support from more extreme left They felt that the reforms did not address Spain’s socioeconomic problems Divisions in left-wing party

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Led to an increase in right wing opposition. For them, these reforms represented an assault on the traditional social and religious order in Spain which they fiercely defended A new right-wing group, known as CEDA, formed under a man named Gil Robles to counter the Left. Azana's Republican government crumbled in September 1933, and following elections were won by the right.

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Right Republic: November 1933 - February 1936  New Radical CEDA government reversed the reforms of the Left Republic in what was called the ''two black years''  Violent repression against the left: an example is how Francisco Franco's Army of Africa crushed an Anarchist uprising in the Asturias coalfield (the Asturias Uprising, October 1934)  Due to a financial scandal, the Right Republic collapsed in February 1936.  Lack of cooperation between Radical and CEDA partnership Left Republic: Feb-July 1936   

Popular front gov. won Resumed their old reforms again Opposition from conservative right

Trigger factors in 1936 Popular Front - A popular front (basically the left wing parties united) took charge following the collapse of the Right Republic, furthering polarisation as Franco responded by forming the fascist 'Falange' party (inspired by Hitler) which planned a military coup/takeover. Assassination - Although plans were already underway for a coup, these were accelerated when a leading right wing monarchist named Jose Calvo Sotelo was assassinated by a socialist bodyguard in July 1936.

Failed military coup - this was attempted under the leadership of Franco in July 1936, but it failed. This action of the army was to start the Civil War to conquer Spain, fought bitterly until 1939 between the Republicans and the Nationalists under Franco, resulting in Nationalist victory and Franco's fascist regime in Spain from 1939~1975

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