Why did a Civil War break out in Spain in 1936?
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> Why did a Civil War break out in Spain in 1936? The Spanish civil war broke out because of many economic, social and political reasons. These were mainly the poverty, the exorbitantly influential power of the church and the army and the government's conflict with the workers. This led to the rise of anarchism and socialism, as many were disillusioned with the political system, that was corrupt and ineffective. Spain also was a power on the constant decline, as demonstrated with the loss of the colonies in 1898 and Morocco in 1921. All this lead to social discontent that culminated in the civil war. In order to understand the reason why a civil war broke out, one firstly has to look at its long term causes. Various factors led to a unstable situation being created in Spain, and hence were the soil on which social unrest could grow. Spain missed the industrial revolution that took place in many European countries in the 19th century and was still a backward medieval society, with landlords dominating and humiliating the working peasantry. The army was also too big; there was a ratio of 9:1 officers and Aristocrats forced themselves into the army. This not only led to military humiliations such as against the USA in 1898, in which Spain was humiliatingly defeated, but also to a low morale and widespread discontent.
The working classes were disillusioned with their government. In 1923 Spain experienced a bloodless coup when Alfonso agreed that General Primo de Rivera should take control of Spain. He carried out profound reforms which were partially successful, as he for example increased by three times from 1923 to 1930. He also suppressed the rebellion in Marocco in 1925. Nevertheless, he was not able to handle the Great depression in 1930. Hence a reason why Civil War broke out, was the inability of this government to satisfy the demands of both, the army and church, whose support it utterly needed, and on the other hand satisfy the demand for a liberal country and profound changes form the part of the people and the workers. Another reason why Spain dissolved into Civil war was that Starvation rose as food prices rose exorbitantly, and Rivera had to resign, as the army drew away its support. The new republican government, that won the elections in in April 1931, faced many problems. The first was the issue of the Roman Catholic church, that hated the republic; however, the republic needed its support, as the clergy was still a major source of power in Spain. The army had to be reformed as well, and the economical reforms had to be tackled. Iron production had fell by 33% and steel by 50% and hence unemployment rose and the workers were disillusioned.
In 1934 there was a general strike. The coal mine workers uprising in Asturia was violently put down by Franco, who led the army. In the last moment before a large scale-revolution was stopped and new elections were called in, in which the Popular Front gained a majority. However, this government was a important factor of triggering of the civil war, as it was only a farce of what the Popular Front actually had demanded. More and more riots occurred and the government had clearly lost control. On the other hand, the military under Franco, later supported by Fascist Germany, had prepared a takeover of Spain. It overthrew the Civilian government in Marocco; its next target was to invade the Spanish mainland and establish a military government there. The left would have to fight for survival. The Civil War started in July 1936. In conclusion, Spain's main dilemma becomes evident that then led to the Civil War: no government was able to effectively carry out reforms without alienating either the clergy, the army, landowner or the peasantry. The governments through which the Civil War was triggered of, were also internationally isolated. The peasantry was disillusioned, and publicised its frustration through strikes and riots. Political opposition grew, and only could be put down by violence. Nevertheless the people already had lost their thrust in the governments, and Civil War was the logic consequence.
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