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The Second Spanish Republic

Spanish History

Second Spanish Republic. The Second Republic in Spain started after the crash of 1929 and ended with the victory of General Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

The Second Spanish Republic lasted from 1931 to 1939 and marked the second time in Spanish history in which the people voted for the positions of Head of State and Head of Government. The first time was during the short-lived First Spanish Republic which lasted from 1873 to 1874.

The Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed on April 14, 1931, during the aftermath and economic crisis following the Wall Street Crash in 1929. The economic situation had led to the downfall of General Miguel Primo de Rivera's dictatorial government on January 29, 1930. After a local election, the Republicans won the common vote.

Spanish King Alfonso XIII had supported the dictatorial regime of General Miguel Primo de Rivera and therefore became a symbol of oppression to the working class. During the transition to a republic, the “Pact of San Sebastian” was signed by the Republicans to overthrow the monarchy and establish a republic. In response to the anti-monarchical campaign, King Alfonso XIII proclaimed a suspension of royal power and immediately exiled himself. The Spanish King would eventually settle in Rome.

The King's departure led to a provisional government whose first president was Niceto Alcalá-Zamora, who presided until 1936, when Manuel Azaña took over. Under Niceto Alcalá-Zamora, a new constitution was adopted on December 9, 1931 which established: freedom of speech, freedom of association, extended voting privileges to women, allowed divorce, and stripped Spanish nobility of special legal status.

A notable exception in the new constitution to these extensions of civil liberties was the strict control over the Catholics' rights to property and education. These articles prevented the new government from ever reaching a democratic majority and also led Pope Pius XI to condemn the new Spanish Government for oppressing the church in Spain.

The Republican constitution of the Second Spanish Republic would be effective from 1931 until 1939. It established new legal procedures and also changed the symbols of the country. The National Anthem was changed to the Himno de Riego and the flag of Spain became tricolored (red-yellow-purple) with horizontal stripes. Additionally, Spain's regions had right to autonomy, which Catalonia declared in 1932 and the Basque Country in 1936.

During the period of the Second Spanish Republic various reforms were carried out such as the land reform. However, they failed to meet expectations. In the following months there was increasing violence in the government between liberals and conservatives. Additionally there were various strikes and popular uprisings contributing to the instability of the new government.

In response, General Franco attempted a military coup d'état on July 18, 1936, which was met with serious resistance and eventually led to a full blown civil war with the legitimately elected government in Madrid.

The Second Spanish Republic effectively came to an end on April 1, 1939 when General Francisco Franco and his forces were declared victorious in the Spanish Civil War. On January 15, 1941, a month and a half before his death, King Alfonso XIII abdicated his rights to the Spanish throne in favor of his third born son Juan, father of the future king Juan Carlos. The legitimate Spanish Republican Government formed in exile in Mexico City and later moved to Paris.

On July 15, 1977, after Franco's death, Spain held its first free elections since 1936. It was then that José Maldonado Gonzalez, the last president of the Exiled Second Spanish Republic, officially dissolved the Second Spanish Republic in recognition of the elections and the new Spanish Government.