The Second Spanish Republic

The Second Republic in Spain lasted from 1931 to 1939. It came on the tails of the crash of 1929 and ended with General Franco’s victory in the Spanish Civil War.
The Second Spanish Republic played an important role in the country’s history. It began as a late consequence of the stock market crash of 1929 and was terminated by the dictatorship of General Franco, who emerged victorious from the Spanish Civil War after plotting a military coup against the republic. The period marked the second time in Spanish history that citizens could vote for their leaders.

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 sent Spain spiraling into an economic crisis and led to the downfall of General Miguel Primo de Rivera's dictatorial government. Spanish King Alfonso XIII had supported the dictatorial regime and therefore became a symbol of oppression in the eyes of the working class, who, after a period of turmoil, helped the Republicans rise to power and win the election. During the transition between the fall of the dictatorship in 1930 and the proclamation of the republic in 1931, the Pact of San Sebastián was signed by the Republicans to overthrow the monarchy.

In response to the anti-monarchical campaign, King Alfonso XIII decided to flee to Rome and a provisional government was established, headed by Niceto Alcalá-Zamora. On December 9, 1931, a new Spanish constitution was adopted. It guaranteed the freedom of speech and freedom of association, gave women the right to vote, legalized divorce, and stripped Spanish nobility of their noble privileges. Under this constitution, the National Anthem was changed to the Himno de Riego and Spain’s flag became tricolored (red-yellow-purple) with horizontal stripes. Additionally, Spain's regions now had the right to autonomy, which was declared by Catalonia in 1932 and by the Basque Country in 1936.

During the period of the Second Spanish Republic, numerous reforms were carried out, including an important land reform. However, these efforts failed to meet expectations. In the following months, there was increasing violence between liberals and conservatives, and various strikes and popular uprisings contributed to the instability of the new government.

Seizing upon this opportunity, a group of military officers led by General Francisco Franco attempted a coup d'état in July of 1936, which was met with serious resistance and led to a full-blown civil war.

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. After decades of dictatorship and varying levels of repression, Franco died in 1975. King Juan Carlos I, the great-grandson of Alfonso XIII and Franco’s chosen successor, supported Spain's transition to a democracy and called for elections.