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Policy of Spain on Opposition - Dictionary of Arguments

Levitsky I 122
Opposition/Policy of Spain/Levitsky/Ziblatt: When (...) Spain made its first truly democratic turn in 1931, hopes were high. The new leftist government under Prime Minister Manuel Azaña stood for parliamentary democracy,(1) but it was confronted with a deeply divided society, between anarchists and Marxists on the left and monarchists and fascists on the right. Both sides regarded each other not as competing parties, but as mortal enemies. On the one hand, right-wing Catholics and monarchists watched in horror as the church, army and monarchy, social institutions they held in high esteem, were deprived of their privileges. In their eyes, the new republic had no right to exist. They saw themselves, as one historian writes, as fighters in a battle against "Bolshevik foreign agents"(2).
On the other hand, many socialists and other left-wing republicans regarded right-wing politicians such as the leader of the Catholic-conservative Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas (CEDA), José Maria Gil-Robles, as monarchist or fascist counter-revolutionaries(3). At best, they saw in the CEDA a façade behind which ultra-conservative monarchists planned the violent overthrow of the Republic. Although the CEDA was apparently prepared to
Levitsky I 123
participate in the democratic process and to compete with their political opponents in elections, their leaders refused to stand unreservedly behind the new regime(4). Consequently, mistrust of them remained high. In short, neither the Republicans on the left nor the Catholics and monarchists on the right accepted the other side as legitimate opponents.
Lack of mutual respect led to the collapse of the Spanish Republic. Since many socialists and leftist republicans saw the center-left government from 1931 to 1933 as the embodiment of the Republic, they regarded attempts to change or withdraw its policies as fundamentally "disloyal" to the Republic(5). Cf. >Opposition/Policy of the United States, >Opposition/Levitsky/Ziblatt, >Polarization/Levitsky/Ziblatt.


1. Gabriel Jackson, The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939, Princeton, New Jersey, 1965, p. 52.
2. Shlomo Ben-Ami, »The Republican ›Take-Over‹. Prelude to Inevitable Catastrophe«, in Paul Preston (Hg.), Revolution and War in Spain, 1931–1939, London 2001, p. 58–60.
3. Raymond Carr, Spain 1808–1939, Oxford 1966, p. 621.
4. Michael Mann, Fascists, Cambridge 2004, p. 330.
5. Juan J. Linz, »From Great Hopes to Civil War. The Breakdown of Democracy in Spain«, in Juan J. Linz/Alfred Stepan (Ed.), The Breakdown of Democratic Regimes. Europe, Baltimore 1978, p. 162.


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Policy of Spain


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