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13.4 The Rise and Fall of Dictatorship in Spain

The main factors that contributed to the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera in Spain were as follows:

Spain was ruled by King Alphonso XIII; a weak-willed, inefficient and incapable King. He lacked wisdom and statesmanship, which led to his humiliation in the Moroccan problem.

Several abuses were prevalent in the Spanish army and government. The army was inefficient, ill armed, and not well trained.

The failure of the parliamentary government was responsible for the abuses in all branches of government and society.

In order to remove these abuses, the Officers’ Corps prepared a reform program. However some of its spokesmen were arrested by the government. The parliamentary government reached its doom and this was followed by the military dictatorship of General Primo De Rivera.

On seizing power, General Miguel Primo de Rivera proclaimed a state of war in the country, imposed strict press censorship, and banned all political activities. Having restored law and order in the country, Primo introduced ambitious schemes for public works, electrification of the railways and road development. He introduced income tax and improved the national finances. He encouraged and stimulated home industries, channeled investments and created state monopolies.

In his zeal for reform, Primo was driven to ride roughshod over dissident and unwilling people. There were frequent student riots in the universities against the dictator. Finally, the world economic depression of 1929-1930 caused the collapse of Spanish industries and the national economy. On January 28, 1930, admitting his defeat, Primo resigned from office, and expired in Paris, on March 16, 1930.

At the death of Primo, King Alphonso XIII was in exile in France from April 14, 1931. A republic was established in Spain. The Republicans, under the leadership of Zamora, secured an overwhelming majority in the national legislature, in the elections of April 1931. However the Moderate Republicans defeated the Radicals and Socialists in the elections of November 1933, with Lerroux as their leader. A Popular Front was formed by the anarchists. It violently opposed the government of the Moderates.

In the elections of 1936, the Popular Front secured a majority in the national legislature and formed the government. The Popular Front government was unwilling or unable to prevent its communist and anarchist allies from carrying out destructive activities.

On July 19, 1936, General Francisco Franco and all those officers who were adversely affected revolted against the Popular Front government. General Franco was fully supported by the clergymen, royalists, rightists, landlord and conservative republicans.

Exhibit 13.4
General Franco

The Civil War was fought with great ferocity, and both sides were guilty of committing horrible cruelties. Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Portugal fully supported General Franco and recognized the government that he formed in November 1936.

After assuming dictatorial authority, General Franco abolished all trade unions. He also banned industrial strikes and lockouts. He proclaimed Catholicism as the state religion.

The lands seized from the Society of Jesus and the landlords, by the earlier Popular Front government were returned to them. General Franco borrowed the system of government, the national economy and the foreign policy from Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, and established the same in Spain. After being a dictator for four decades, General Franco passed away in November 1975.

 

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Index

13.0 - Introduction
13.1 Causes of the Growth of Dictatorships in Europe
13.2 The Rise and Fall of Dictatorship in Italy
13.3 The Rise and Fall of Dictatorship in Germany
13.4 The Rise and Fall of Dictatorship in Spain
13.5 The Rise and Fall of Dictatorship in Portugal
13.6 Significance and Impact of Dictatorships in Europe
13.7 Dates & Events
13.8 Points to Remember

Chapter 14

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