Fascism in Spain

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2008
15 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Political and social developments in Spain from 1923-
2.1 The Dictatorship of Primo de Riviera
2.2 The Second Republic

3. The Spanish Civil war and Franco`s rise to power
3.1 The Franco Regime (1939-1975)
3.2 Resistance against the regime

4. Conclusion


1. Introduction

The First Spanish Republic was founded in 1873. Its establishment began to launch tendencies in the Spanish concept of the state, which along with other causes, would later culminate in the Civil War of 1936. There were several reasons for the war, many of them long-term tensions that had escalated over the years. In this paper I would like to discuss the events that led to the establishment of the fascist regime of Francisco Franco that lasted from 1939 - 1975. Section 2 of the text will briefly summarize the political and social developments in Spain from 1923 to 1939 including the dictatorship of Primo de Riviera and the Second Republic that followed and was governed by a coalition of the left and the center. In section three, I will focus on the Spanish Civil War and Franco`s rise to power, furthermore Franco`s dictatorship and resistance against the regime will be examined. Section four concludes.

2. Political and social developments in Spain from 1923-1939

Spain had undergone a number of different systems of rule following the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th Century.1 A monarchy under Alfonso XIII lasted from 1887 to 1931; but from 1923 was held in place by the military dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. It had never been possible to calm down tensions in the Spanish part of northern Morocco, a zone that had been established in 1913, and by 1921 the insurrection had caused major losses for the Spanish army. King Alfonso XIII, who was leading the country, had not been able to reunite the Liberal Party; furthermore reforms were prevented by the established elites who did not see their interests represented by the Liberal government.

2.1 The Dictatorship of Primo de Riviera

Primo de Rivera took over power in 1923 and, with the consent of the king, set up “the first direct military dictatorship in Spanish history”2. De Riviera did not consider himself to be a dictator; he claimed to be a supporter of constitutional Liberalism instead. However, the government was replaced by a Military Directory and public order was put under control by martial law.

For a number of years, Riviera enjoyed the support of the public and he had many admirers because of his unofficial way of behavior and cunning character.3 Despite sporadic references to Liberalism, de Rivera had a high regard for Mussolini whom he visited in Italy and even asked for advice regarding political questions. In Rome, he expressed his strong support for Fascism in an interview with the Fascist journal Impero, claiming that “”Spain should follow in the footsteps of Italian Fascism””4.

Although de Riviera allegedly was a Liberalist, he was lacking a consistent ideology that could have stabilized his regime. Bernecker states that the visit in Italy caused De Riviera to look for an ideological alternative that could incorporate the interests of the military, in particular of the “middle-class Catalan militia of the Somatén”.5 In 1924, the Asociación Católica Nacional de Propagandistas (ACNP) formed an organization named Unión Patriótica

(UP) that supported the dictatorship. The UP was joined by a number of smaller groups and quickly implemented a political foundation of the regime. Far from being a political party, the UP`s main motives were patriotism, religion and the opposition of genuine political parties.6 Its doctrine included the revitalization of the Spanish Catholic ideology and a positive nationalism. Furthermore it gave emphasis to the hierarchical and totalitarian leadership of de Riviera. The members of the UP were for the most part catholic, conservative and belonged to the middle-class. In contrast to the liberal constitution from 1876, the UP’s doctrines were heading towards a right-wing authoritarian regime and it was soon “expand[ing] into a national organization […] and (…) quickly adopted as the new political front of the regime.”7 Payne points out that the UP can be viewed as the first considerable force for nationalism in the 20th century Spain.8 However, differences to Italian fascism were obvious. Unlike the “”armed force”” of Italian Fascism, the “apolitical” UP considered itself to be a Christian movement. In addition, the dictatorship was closely connected to the Catholic Church and religion was the main force for legitimizing the civilian government that had replaced the military rule in 1925.9

In 1929, an attempt to reform the constitution had failed and - partly due to the interventionist policies of the government - the financial situation of the country was deteriorating. Resistance against the Dictatorship was developing among the growing group of students and other intellectuals. Since it was incapable to create a legitimizing ideology, the dictatorship eventually failed and de Riviera resigned in 1930, putting an end to the parliamentary monarchy as well as to moderate Liberalism.


1 Bernecker, 2006(a), p.84.

2 Payne, 1999, p. 25.

3 Ibid., p. 27.

4 Payne, 1999, p.28.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid., p. 29.

7 Payne, 1999, p. 28.

8 Ibd., p. 29.

9 Ibd., p. 31.

Excerpt out of 15 pages


Fascism in Spain
University of Flensburg  (Institut für Management)
Europäische Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
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Fascism, Spain
Quote paper
Marlene Langholz (Author), 2008, Fascism in Spain, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/154403


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