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    The Spanish Civil War Essay (883 words)

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    With reference to any civil war in the 20th century examinethe social, economic and political background to the divisions inthe society involved. To what extent were the problems whichcaused the war resolved in the post-war period?The state of Spain during the early years of the 20th centurycan be said to have been a state of great “unease”. Spain was oneof the first powers to loose her imperial influence, the state waspolitically unstable, industrially weak and had suffered somehumiliating defeats.

    It can be said that these were the maincauses that lead to the great instability of Spain during the Civilwar and post civil war periods. Left-winged radicalism and nationalistic movements, such asthe Catalan movement frequently came into conflict with the centralgovernment, which lead the government to use corruption more andmore frequently as a form of control. The result was a militarycoup in 1923 lead by Miguel Primo de Rivera. Rivera preferred amore direct way of governing, with a strong Christian base and avery anti-communist attitude.

    He did not like party politics,preferring to govern pragmatically, at first with a militarycabinet, but later on (1926) he decided a systematic governmentwould be more efficient. So he introduced the `National Assembly’intended to represent different classes and groups, probably tosoften the opposition; as well as the Union Patriotica, created tomobilize 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, becausethe upper classes would not accept a overhaul in the taxationsystem. He also managed to encourage industrial growth, which didwork to a certain extent because of many internal problems, and thebig depression.

    These financial and political, as well as social difficultiesled his regime to end in 1930 because it was unable to stop theattacks from the left, as well as attacks from the reluctantmilitary (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 beforeanother military coup, led by general Franco, took over thegovernment. The Republic tried to set out major reforms, intending torestructure the whole of Spain. The eight-hour working day was setup, as well as a reduction of officers in the armed forces (by theform of early retirement). Voting rights were given to people atthe age of 23, the nobility was abolished and, severe measures weretaken against the Church, especially religious education(considered, in a way, a form of propaganda).

    The region ofCatalonia was given some self-governing privileges, like thecontrol of it’s own police. The problem was that these reformsseemed to be too severe to the right-winged opposition and theprivileged classes. So in 1933, Azana’s government fell after being defeated bythe general elections. The new government was actually a series ofcoalitions which set out to undo all the reforms produced by theformer republican government. This lead to conflicts between whatnow could be called the two main “fronts”. These two camps werethe Popular Front (consisting of Communists, Socialist, Anarchists,etc.

    ), and the National Front (consisting of right-winged partiesand other conservative institutions, such as the Church and theFalange). These parties fought for the next elections after theformer coalition government dissolved. The Popular Front won these elections, and so once again,Azana came into power. He tried, once again, to set out all hisprevious reforms. He also exiled Franco, who was considered thegreatest threat to the new government.

    The problem with the newgovernment though, was that it was (in the eyes of the opposition)drifting too far into communism. The National Front could notstand it any longer, so a military coup was hatched, lead by Francoto overthrough the government. This plan was set up so that twomain forces, one coming from the north, and the other from thesouth would eventually converge and snuff out the Republic. The National Front eventually won the civil war, not onlybecause it had financial and military support from Nazi Germany andFascist Italy, but also because the Popular Front had it’s owninternal conflicts. Franco’s regime proved quite successful.

    He managed toovercome internal disputes and balance the different Nationalistgroups; he left the question of monarchy open to the carlists andalso favored and encouraged a more influential Church. Even thoughhis government had a tough time during the 1940’s with regards toit’s status (problems becoming a member of the united nations),other nations saw Spain become, in their eyes, a more “softernation”, this improved it’s foreign dealings, mainly because of thefact that the cold war had started. A great success was the 1953 Madrid Pact between Spain and theU. S. A, which provided Spain with quite a substantial amount ofmilitary and monetary aid in return for access to it’s militarybases.

    This pact, as well as the better relations between Spainand the other powers and the great stability brought about becauseof the enormous repression that came with his regime, led Spain tobooming years during the 1960’s. The Spanish people saw a better Spain, economically, but itwas still in a very primitive state politically and sociallycompared to other european nations, who were not under militaryrule (with a few exceptions, of course). The end of the Francoregime left many scars in the social and political side of Spain. People had been submitted to a suppressive state, where very littleregard for any basic human right was given.

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