Analyse the reasons for the weaknesses and collapse of democracy between 1918 and 1939 in Spain.

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Analyse the reasons for the weaknesses and collapse of democracy between 1918 and 1939 in Spain.

Not only were there profound reasons for the weaknesses and collapse of democracy between 1918 and 1939 in Spain, democracy was inherently handicapped compared to other forms of government e.g. the monarchy or a dictatorship - this was due to its method of conception. The Spanish civil war broke out in 1936 and eventually led to Franco leading a dictatorship over Spain. Therefore, analysing the reasons why the civil war occurred will be the focal point. There are three crucial factors as to why the war erupted: the uneven levels of development throughout Spain in the 1930s, the deep-rooted grasp Catholicism had on the Spanish people, and the rigid structure that formed in the Spanish military and the anti-democracy ideology that was exacerbated in the 1920s-30s. There are many additional factors, most prominent the final loss of empire in 1898, that contributed to these overarching ones, however insurmountably it was mainly due to the Republic’s inability to quell the Spanish military which caused the eruption of the civil war and thus the fall of democracy in 1939.

The uneven levels of development in urban Spain, la Espana profunda, the deeper South, and the more industrialised northern parts of Spain created precedent for a series of cultural wars to occur. It was the new cosmopolitan lifestyle against the rural tradition, secular against religion, authoritarian against liberal political cultures. Spain became polarised during the 1930s and thus created two camps which then allowed the Africanistas appeal the to more Right-wing already organised camp on the precedent that the Republic was not able to impose concrete reform that could reconcile all social groups - due to being internally divided. The mini-welfare state the First Republic attempted to impose is an example of this, the promise of a new welfare state raised expectations, but when the Republic failed to fully deliver on this, the Spaniards interpreted it as a policy failure. Coupled by the fact that the people who would potentially be dependent on such benefits were essentially slaves to landowners and estate bailiffs in the South, pushed the poor labourers to side with the Africanistas who aimed to topple the existing government. Additionally, the Republicans failed to demilitarize the police force so police brutality continued e.g. starved labourers who were foraging for acorns were shot. Thus this demonstrated that despite having political reform, no change was to happen leaving the only other viable option: a military coup. This disparity in wealth, that the Republic failed to solve, led many poorer citizens vulnerable to the appeal of a change in government as no change in the status quo occurred. This undermined the legitimacy of democracy in Spain as people were looking towards more militaristic methods to power.
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However, it was not only southern labourers, traditional ruralists felt discontent with the Republican government. On the contrary, this was due to the Republic being too interfering with their policies. The Republic tried to enact a more secular government and to do this they aimed to remove religion from primary education. The Church had been embedded in the education system for a very long time, so such policy was bound to be a failure, it just served to pose as an attack on the daily life of the la Espana profunda (rural and provincial Spain). Another example of ...

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