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Republicanism in Spain

There has existed in the Kingdom of Spain a persistent trend of republican thought, especially throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, that has manifested itself in diverse political parties and movements over the entire course of the history of Spain. While these movements have shared the objective of establishing a republic in Spain, during these three centuries there have surged distinct schools of thought on the form republicans would want to give to the Spanish State: unitary (centralized) or federal.

Despite the country's long-lasting schools of republican movements, the government of Spain has been organized as a republic during only two very short periods in its history, which totaled less than 10 years of republican government in the entirety of Spanish history. The First Spanish Republic lasted from February 1873 to December 1874, and the Second Spanish Republic lasted from April 1931 to April 1939.

Currently there are movements and political parties throughout the entire political spectrum that advocate for a Third Spanish Republic, including almost all of the Spanish left-wing politics, as well as liberal, right-winged, and nationalist parties.


  • History 1
    • Origins, the First Republic, and the Bourbon Restoration 1.1
    • Primo de Rivera, the Second Republic, and the Franco regime 1.2
    • After the transition to democracy 1.3
  • Republican political parties after the transition 2
  • Public opinion 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Origins, the First Republic, and the Bourbon Restoration

The roots of Spanish republicanism arose out of liberal thought in the wake of the French Revolution. The first manifestations of republicanism occurred during the Peninsular War, in which Spain and nearby regions fought for independence from Napoleon, 1808–1814. During the reign of Ferdinand VII (1813–1833) there were several liberalist military pronunciamientos, but it was not until the reign of Isabella II (1833–1868) that the first clearly republican and anti-monarchist movements appeared.
The republics of the world, France, the United States, and Switzerland, among others, praise the First Spanish Republic, while the monarchies of the world repudiate it.

The Glorious Revolution of 1868 overthrew Isabella II, but the Cortes, the Spanish parliament revived by the elections of 1869, voted in favor of a monarchy. A search for a new king was made from amongst several European royal courts. Their selection was the Italian prince Amadeo I de Saboya, but in the midst of a country that was profoundly instable, enveloped in diverse wars (the Third Carlist War, due to the aspirations to the throne of the Bourbon branch of carlists, and the Ten Years' War in Cuba, among others) and including the opposition of republicans and a large part of the aristocracy, the Catholic Church, and the Spanish people, King Amadeo abdicated on February 11, 1873.

On that same day in 1873, the Cortes proclaimed the First Spanish Republic. However, the Republic fell victim to the same instabilities provoked by the ongoing wars and the division amongst republicans. The majority of republicans were federalists, and they therefore supported the formation of a federal democratic republic, but there was also a unitary republic school. What is more, within the federalists there was an intransigent pro-confederation sector that was infuriated and later quashed by the Cantonal Revolution of 1873. The complicated political situation is demonstrated by the fact that in just eleven months there were four presidents of the Republic: Francesc Pi i Margall, Estanislao Figueras, Nicolás Salmerón, and Emilio Castelar (the only non-federalist president). On January 3, 1874, General Manuel Pavía led a coup d'état that established a conservative unitary republican dictatorship under the command of General Francisco Serrano y Domínguez. The dictatorship was in turn ousted by pronunciamiento on December 29, 1874, in which Brigadier General Arsenio Martínez Campos declared the Bourbon Restoration and Alfonso XII ascended to the throne.

Following the Restoration, diverse republican parties appeared once again, for example Castelar's Partido Demócrata—later the Partido Demócrata Posibilista (PDP) – and Cristino Martos's Partido Progresista Demócrata. Nonetheless, these parties, immersed in a system of inequal censitary suffrage between 1878 and 1890, were unable to compete with the large dynastic parties: the Liberal-Conservative Party of Antonio Cánovas del Castillo and Liberal Party of Práxedes Mateo Sagasta. Later Francisco Pi formed the Partido Republicano Democrático Federal (PRDF), Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla and José María Esquerdo created Partido Republicano Progresista (PRP), and Nicolás Salmerón established the Partido Republicano Centralista (PRC). These parties contributed a diverse set of independent republican deputies to the Spanish parliament. Factions of the PDP and the PRP branched off and fused to form the Partido Republicano Nacional. In 1898 the Fusión Republicana was formed, and in 1903 the creation of the Republican Union attempted to represent and fuse all streams of republican thought. However, two parties split from the Republican Union: Alejandro Lerroux's Partido Republicano Radical and Vicente Blasco's Partido de Unión Republicana Autonomista. In that time the Catalan Centre Nacionalista Republicà (CNR) appeared. Following the acts of "Tragic Week" in Barcelona in 1909, republican parties and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party ("PSOE" in Spanish) joined together to form the Conjunción Republicano-Socialista, at the same time as the Catalan sectors of the Republican Union, the CNR, and the PRDF formed the Republican Nationalist Federal Union. Later Melquiades Álvarez split from the Conjunción Republicano-Socialista to form the Reformist Party.

Primo de Rivera, the Second Republic, and the Franco regime

After 1917, the Restoration regime entered a state of crisis, which finally resulted in the coup d'état of Miguel Primo de Rivera, Captain-General of Catalonia. Primo de Rivera established a dictatorship with the approval of the King Alfonso XIII. But the crisis of this dictatorship lead to the resignation of Primo de Rivera in 1930 and made the fall of the monarchy inevitable. On April 14, 1931, two days after a round of municipal elections in which republicans won a landslide victory, Alfonso XIII was sent into exile and the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed.

The Second Republic adopted the form of a unitary republic, allowing the formation of autonomous regions, a status adopted by Catalonia and the Basque Country. The Republic quickly had to confront political polarization of the era, at the same time that totalitarian dictatorships were rising in power in Europe. The first President of the Second Republic was Niceto Alcalá Zamora of the Liberal Republican Right. Later Manuel Azaña, of Republican Action (later the Republican Left) in coalition with the PSOE, was elected president after the political left's victories in the June 1931 elections. Azaña's government attempted to bring many reforms, such as the Agrarian Reform Law, therefore the Azaña administration is known as the Bienio Reformista ("Two-Year Reformists" in English). It was also in 1931 that, for the first time in Spanish history, universal suffrage was established, granting to women the right to vote.

That in 1932 there had already been a failed coup led by General José Sanjurjo shows the political instability of the time. In the general elections of 1933, José María Gil-Robles's coalition the Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas won a parliamentary majority, followed by Lerroux's Partido Republicano Radical. The CEDA, which united diverse conservative and Christian Democrat parties, rejected the presidency of Alcalá Zamora, instead electing Lerroux, who appointed to his cabinet of ministers several members of the CEDA. The integration of the CEDA in the government was one of the motivations for the Spanish Revolution of 1934, in which sectors of the PSOE, the Communist Party of Spain (Partido Comunista de España or "PCE"), and the trade unions the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) and the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) lead a general strike. The anti-government strike occurred at the same time that the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya ("ERC")'s Lluís Companys, President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, proclaimed the Catalan State within the Spanish Federal Republic. The violent repression of the Revolution, especially in Asturais, the suppression of Catalan autonomy, and the detention of numerous political personages motived the formation of the Spanish Popular Front by the PSOE, the UGT, the PCE, the ERC, the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (in Spanish "POUM"), the Republican Left, and the Republican Union, amongst other. The Popular Front came out victorious in the general elections of 1936, returning Manuel Azaña to the presidency after dismissing Alcalá Zamora.

On July 17, 1936, there was a failed military pronunciamiento in Morocco that managed to take control of a good part of the territory, which provoked the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. While the republican regime was abandoned by the other European democracies and only received military support from the Soviet Union, the conservative rebels were supported by Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, whose support was pivotal in the final victory of the nationalist uprising. The triumphant General Francisco Franco established an brutal, ironclad dictatorship that lasted until his death in 1975. As well, Emilio Mola, leader of the uprising against the Second Republic, attempted to establish a "republican dictatorship,"[1] but in 1947 Franco established his authoritarian dictatorship as a regency for the monarchy, and in 1969 he named Juan Carlos de Borbón, grandson of the ousted Alfonso XIII, as his successor and the next king. Juan Carlos ascended to the throne upon the dictator's death in 1975.

After the transition to democracy

The anti-Franco opposition failed in their attempts to provoke the dictators downfall, and after his death they started a process of negotiation with the government that led to the Spanish transition to democracy, in which Spain chose a democratic parliamentary monarchy as the form of government, with the support of groups that had previously advocated a republic, like the PSOE and the PCE. In 1977, after the first democratic general elections since the Francoist dictatorship, the Spanish Republican government-in-exile, maintained since the end of the Civil War, dissolved itself and officially recognized the post-Franco democratic regime.[2] Republicanism in Spain since 1976, principally during the Transition, was represented by the Acción Republicana Democrática Española (ARDE), the Republican Left, and the Spanish Republican Party. However, the Communist Party (PCE) and its coalition the United Left have resumed advocating for a Third Spanish Republic. There are also other regional parties advocating republicanism.

Republican political parties after the transition

There are many republican political parties on the national level. However, since the Spanish transition to democracy, only the United Left, and one of its component parties before its formation, the Communist Party of Spain, had representation in Parliament until 2011. In that year, the United Left was joined by EQUO as the two political parties with parliamentary representation that advocated a republic. The Spanish Socialist Worker's Party maintains a position of limited intervention in the republic-vs.-monarchy debate, providing some support to the monarchy while at the same time some members of its base identify as republicans.
A republican demonstration, with participation from members of the Communist Party and others, in Seville on April 14, 2006.
  • The United Left ("Izquierda Unida" or "IU" in Spanish) is the third-largest party in Spain by number of votes. It is a "state of rights".[3] The United Left and the PCE advocate the establishment of a Third Spanish Republic.[4][5]
  • Equo is a Spanish green party that, through its integration into the Valencian Coalició Compromís ("Compromise Coalition" in English), attained representation in the Congress of Deputies after the 2011 elections as the "Compromís-Q". Equo advocates for a "federal, secular, and republican state".[6]
  • The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party ("Partido Socialista Obrero Español" or "PSOE" in Spanish) is the principal left-winged Spanish political party and the one that has spent the most years in parliamentary majority since the Transition (1982–1996, 2004–2011). Despite its republican tradition, the party does not currently define itself as republican,[7] and in fact, in recent years the monarchy and its role have been praised by the PSOE.[8][9][10] However, the youth wing of the PSOE, the Socialist Youth of Spain, does identify its ideology as republican,[11] and in its resolutions of the 37th Congress (2004–2008), the PSOE declared itself in support of a "civic republicanism".[12] The mentions of republicanism disappeared in the resolutions of the 38th Congress due to internal conflict over this position.

Public opinion

Spain's government-run Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas ("CIS," in English: Center for Sociological Research) has not conducted any surveys in which respondents were asked their preference of the system of government, monarchy or republic. However, the CIS does publish surveys on the "value" respondents place on the monarchy, and the agency has occasionally published questions regarding the current monarch, observing a progressive decline in support for the monarchy.[13] In fact, although the monarchy has normally been one of the most valued institutions, studies have shown that the monarchy has experienced serious loss in public confidence, more than any other government institution, especially among youths aged 18 to 24, who have voted against it repeatedly in CIS studies since 2006.[14][15] For the first time ever in 2011, a majority of the population said they did not support the current monarchy.[16] A study published on June 24, 2004, even yield a result of 55% of Spaniards agreeing ("más bien de acuerdo") with the statement that "the Monarchy has overstayed its welcome."[17][note 1]

Spanish newspapers also sporadically publish surveys and opinion polls with questions related to the monarchy and of the survey respondents political affiliation as monarchists or republican, among other options, with results generably in favor of the monarchy until the year 2013:
Date Survey Republican (%) More republican than monarchist (%) Indifferent, "Don't know," & "No response" (%) Juancarlists[note 2] (%) More monarchist than republicanist (%) Monarchists (%)
07/10/1996 Instituto Opina para La Vanguardia 9.7% 6.2% 37.2% - 11.2% 35.7%
11/1996 Metroscopia 13% - 21% - - 66%
1997 Metroscopia 15% - 20% - - 65%
1998 Metroscopia 11% - 17% - - 72%
20/11/2000 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 15.9% - 41.1% - - 43%
20/11/2005 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 23.5% - More than 38% - - 38%
28/09/2006 Instituto Opina para Cadena Ser 25% - 10% - - 65%
06/10/2007 Gabinete de Estudios Sociales y Opinión Pública (Gesop) para Época 24.8% - - - - 50.6%
11/10/2007 Metroscopia para la Fundación Toledo 22% - 9%[18] - - 69%
05/01/2008 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 12.8% - 39.9% 14.6% - 28.5%
15/08/2008 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 16.2% - 57.9% 7% - 15.7%
06/12/2009 Metroscopia para El País 25% - - - - 66%
31/10/2010 Análisis Sociológicos Económicos y Políticos (ASEP) 26% - - - - 57%
07/11/2010[19] Metroscopia para El País 35% - 8% - - 57%
14/04/2011 Metroscopia para El País 39% - 10% - - 48%
20/06/2011 Invymark para La Sexta 36.8% - 21.1% - - 42.1%
12/12/2011 Invymark para La Sexta 37% - 3.7% - - 59.3%
18/12/2011 Metroscopia para El País 37% - 14% - - 49%
02/01/2012 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 33% - - - - 60%
22/04/2012 NC Report para La Razón 35.5% - 15.9% - - 48.5%
23/04/2012 Invymark para La Sexta 34% - 8.1% - - 57.9%
03/01/2013 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 41% - 5.2% - - 53.8%
14/04/2013 [1] para La Razón - - - - - 63.5%
14/04/2013 Sondeo del diario Público [note 3] 87.57% - - - - 12.43%
06/06/2014 [2] para La Sexta 36.3% - 10.6% - - 53.1%
06/06/2014 [3] para El País 36% - - - - 49%
07/06/2014 [4] para antena 3 35.5% - - - - 60.03%
07/06/2014 el mundo para El Mundo 35.6% - 8.6% - - 55.7%
23/06/2014 [5] para La Razón 28,3% - 14% - - 57,6%
14/06/2015 el mundo para El Mundo 33,7% - 4,8% - - 61,5%

After 2005, surveys have measured a larger support for republicanism amongst Spanish youth, with more 18- to 29-year-olds identifying themselves as republicans than those identifying as monarchists, according to El Mundo.[20] Despite this, some surveys show a public favor of the monarchy, and according to an August 2008 El Mundo poll, 47.9% of Spaniards would have liked if they had been able to democratically elect the current King Juan Carlos, and 42.3% of respondents think that the succession of the current heir Prince Felipe should be put to a plebiscite.[21] According to the newspaper Público's "Publicscopio" section in December 2009, 61% survey respondents are in favor of amending the Spanish Constitution to allow the Spanish people to decide between a monarchy and a republic,[22] a number that increased by 3% compared to the data collected the year before by the same newspaper.[23] According to a 2012 survey by Gallup, 54% of Spaniards were in favor of a referendum to choose the form of government (monarchy or republic), and support was always found to be even higher when surveying younger age groups (support was 73.1% amongst 18- to 24-year-olds, but only 34.5% for those above 65 years). Support for such a referendum is also higher amongst the more educated groups of the population, voters in left-wing political parties, and between members of the upper and upper-middle classes. In 2013, as a result of the accusation of Princess Cristina in the Nóos scandal, republican support has begun to increase greater than ever before.

When Juan Carlos announced his abdication on 2 June 2014, thousands of protesters took to the squares of several Spanish towns and cities demanding a referendum on whether the monarchy should continue.[24]

See also


  1. ^ The statement "the Monarchy is something that has long overstayed its welcome", is roughly translated. The actually Spanish wording used is "la Monarquía es algo superado hace tiempo".
  2. ^ Juancarlism (variously written with and without the capital "J") is the support not of the institution of the monarchy itself, but rather for the current monarch, King Juan Carlos I. There is no consensus amongst "Juancarlists" on what to do upon Juan Carlos's abdication or death, but some Juancarlists support the abolition of the monarchy after Juan Carlos, while others believe that the ascension of the King's heir, Prince Felipe should be put to a plebiscite. Juan Carlos has a particularly strong following because of his work in the Spanish transition to democracy from dictatorship in the 1970s, however polls show that this support is waning.
  3. ^ Opinion poll conducted by the daily newspaper Público in April, May and June 2013. Most of the participants in the survey were from the social network Twitter. In June, the number of participants exceeded 122,000; it also it asked for an assessment of key members of the Royal family. The data also did a breakdown of the number of voters according to their gender, with a higher percentage, although a lower number, of the women's vote in favor of the Republic. See the updated survey.


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  12. ^ PSOE Resolutiones for the 37th Congress of Deputies (2004–2008). Page 101 says: "Para los socialistas, la defensa y la regulación de derechos arranca de la idea misma del republicanismo cívico que propugnamos."
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External links

  • Red Inter Civico Republicana, a Spanish republican movement.
  • Alliance of European Republican Movements, the umbrella organization of the RICP.
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