Republicanism in Spain

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Republicanism in Spain is a political position that holds that Spain's system of government should be changed from a constitutional monarchy to a republic.


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, as well as liberal, right-winged, and nationalist parties.


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 11 February 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 3 January 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 29 December 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 Party 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 14 April 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.

Flag of the Second Spanish Republic

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 17 July 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 a 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.

Exile and Holocaust

A Spanish Republican government in exile was established in Paris in April 1939. Thousands of Republicans fled the country to France as well. Many of them were captured after France was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940; some 7,000 died in concentration camps, especially Mauthausen-Gusen, during the Holocaust. [2] The Republican government in exile moved to Mexico City in 1940, returning to Paris in 1946.

Transition to democracy

The anti-Franco opposition failed in their attempts to provoke the dictator's downfall, and after his death they started a process of negotiation with the government that led to the Spanish transition to democracy. 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 democracy. [3] Spain established a constitution with democratic parliamentary monarchy as the form of government. The constitution was supported by UCD, PSOE, PCE, AP, PDPC and UDC-CCC. During the drafting of the constitution, UCD, AP and PCE supported the monarchy as the form of government. PSOE abstained on that point and supported an amendment to establish a republic. [4] However, in the 80s, the Communist Party (PCE) and its coalition the United Left resumed advocating for a Third Spanish Republic. There are also other regional parties advocating republicanism.

In 2018, Catalan parliament passed a motion condemning king Felipe VI for his role in the Catalan crisis and demanding the abolition of the monarchy. [5]

Public opinion

Spain's government-run Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas ("CIS," in English: Sociological Research Centre) 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. [6] 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. [7] [8] For the first time ever in 2011, a majority of the population said they did not support the current monarchy. [9] A study published on 24 June 2004, even yield a result of 55% of Spaniards agreeing ("más bien de acuerdo") with the statement that "the Monarchy has overstayed its welcome." [10] [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:

DateSurveyRepublican (%)More republican than monarchist (%)Indifferent, "Don't know," & "No response" (%)Juancarlist [note 2] (%)More monarchist than republican (%)Monarchist (%)
7 October 1996 Instituto Opina para La Vanguardia 9.7%6.2%37.2%-11.2%35.7%
November 1996 Metroscopia 13%-21%--66%
1997 Metroscopia 15%-20%--65%
1998 Metroscopia 11%-17%--72%
20 November 2000 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 15.9%-41.1%--43%
20 November 2005 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 23.5%-More than 38%--38%
28 September 2006 Instituto Opina para Cadena Ser 25%-10%--65%
6 October 2007 Gabinete de Estudios Sociales y Opinión Pública (Gesop) para Época24.8%----50.6%
11 October 2007 Metroscopia para la Fundación Toledo22%-9% [11] --69%
5 January 2008 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 12.8%-39.9%14.6%-28.5%
15 August 2008 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 16.2%-57.9%7%-15.7%
6 December 2009 Metroscopia para El País 25%----66%
31 October 2010 Análisis Sociológicos Económicos y Políticos (ASEP) 26%----57%
7 November 2010 Metroscopia para El País 35%-8%--57%
14 April 2011 Metroscopia [ permanent dead link ] para El País 39%-10%--48%
20 June 2011 Invymark para La Sexta 36.8%-21.1%--42.1%
12 December 2011 Invymark para La Sexta 37%-3.7%--59.3%
18 December 2011 Metroscopia para El País 37%-14%--49%
2 January 2012 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 33%----60%
22 April 2012 NC Report para La Razón35.5%-15.9%--48.5%
23 April 2012 Invymark para La Sexta 34%-8.1%--57.9%
3 January 2013 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 41%-5.2%--53.8%
14 April 2013 para La Razón-----63.5%
5 January 2014 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 43.3%-6.8%--49.9%
6 June 2014 Invymark para La Sexta 36.3%-10.6%--53.1%
6 June 2014 Metroscopia para El País 36%----49%
7 June 2014 para antena 3 35.5%----60.03%
7 June 2014 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 35.6%-8.6%--55.7%
23 June 2014 para La Razón 28.3%-14%--57.6%
14 June 2015 Sigma Dos para El Mundo 33.7%-4.8%--61.5%
May 2018 Ipsos 37%-40%--24%
25 July 2018 Electomania and CTXT 47.4%-2.7%--49.9%
10 October 2018 Electomania 45.6%-6.3%--48.1%
July 2018 Podemos 46%-27,2%--26,8%

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. [12] Despite this, some surveys show the public in favour of the monarchy, and according to an August 2008 El Mundo poll, 47.9% of Spaniards would have liked to democratically elect King Juan Carlos, and 42.3% of respondents thought that the succession of his heir Prince Felipe should be put to a plebiscite. [13] According to the newspaper Público's "Publicscopio" section in December 2009, 61% survey respondents were in favour of amending the Spanish Constitution to allow the Spanish people to decide between a monarchy and a republic, [14] a number that increased by 3% compared to the data collected the year before by the same newspaper. [15] 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. [16] Subsequent surveys showed that the abdication improved the image of the Crown thanks to a positive image of the new king, Felipe VI.

Political party positions

Constitutional procedure to establish a republic

Title X of the Spanish Constitution establishes that the approval of a new constitution or the approval of any constitutional amendment affecting the Preliminary Title, or Section I of Chapter II of Title I (on Fundamental Rights and Public Liberties) or Title II (on the Crown), the so-called "protected provisions", are subject to a special process [35] [36] that requires:

  1. that two-thirds of each House approve the amendment,
  2. that elections are called immediately thereafter,
  3. that two-thirds of each new House approves the amendment, and
  4. that the amendment is approved by the people in a referendum.

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 previous monarch, King Juan Carlos I. There was no consensus amongst "Juancarlists" on what to do upon Juan Carlos's abdication or death, but some Juancarlists supported the abolition of the monarchy after Juan Carlos, while others believed that the ascension of the King's heir, Prince Felipe should have been put to a plebiscite. Juan Carlos had a particularly strong following because of his work in the Spanish transition to democracy from dictatorship in the 1970s, however polls showed that this support was waning towards the end of his reign.


  1. "Franco, Mola y Queipo de Llano, ante los tribunales – 17/10/08 – 808961 – EcoDiario" (in Spanish).
  2. Pike, David Wingeate. Spaniards in the Holocaust: Mauthausen, the horror on the Danube; Editorial: Routledge Chapman & Hall ISBN   978-0-415-22780-3. London, 2000.
  3. "Izquierda Republicana" (PDF) (in Spanish).
  4. The parliamentary monarchy, approved with the abstention of the socialists, El País 12 May 1978
  5. Spain threatens ‘legal measures’ after Catalan parliament rejects monarchy
  6. " La monarquía se desgasta en España" (in Spanish).
  7. "Público" (PDF) (in Spanish).[ permanent dead link ]
  8. "El Confidencial" (in Spanish).
  9. "El País" (in Spanish).
  10. "Más de la mitad de los españoles dice que la Monarquía es algo "superado desde hace tiempo" / EL MUNDO" (in Spanish).
  12. "Los españoles dan un notable a la Monarquía pero un 38% de jóvenes prefiere la República / EL MUNDO" (in Spanish).
  13. "'Indiferentes' ante la Corona o la República / EL MUNDO" (in Spanish).
  14. "Pú – La reforma de la Constitución gana adeptos en el último año" (in Spanish).
  15. "Pú – Dos ideas de España frente a la Constitución" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on February 22, 2014.
  16. "Spanish cabinet to discuss King Juan Carlos's abdication". BBC News. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  18. "Rodríguez Zapatero y Rajoy elogian el 'digno' papel de la monarquía y reiteran su 'lealtad' a la Corona – EL MUNDO" (in Spanish).
  19. "Zapatero defiende el "cumplimiento ejemplar del papel constitucional" de Doña Sofía / EL MUNDO" (in Spanish).
  20. "BLANCO: 'Los alcaldes socialistas que incumplen la Ley de Banderas son una minoría, saben que deben cumplirla y lo harán' – PSOE" (in Spanish).
  21. Juventudes Socialistas vindicates "moving towards the Third Republic" on the occasion of April 14.
  22. 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."
  23. Pedro Sánchez: "I'm a Republican", Onda Cero 15 April 2016
  24. Pedro Sánchez: "The PSOE is republican, but constitutional", RTVE 4 June 2014
  25. Sánchez: "We Republicans feel very well represented in this parliamentary Monarchy", ABC 15 June 2016
  26. Pedro Sánchez restrains an initiative of his Youth that asked to establish the Republic, 18 June 2017
  27. Iglesias continues his offensive against the King: "Nobody has chosen him, less protocol and more Republic", El Español 14 October 2018
  28. Iglesias: "Patriotism is called Republic", El Periódico 14 October 2018
  29. Podemos to offer referendum on Spanish monarchy. Newsweek. Published 22 December 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  31. "Izquierda Unida" (PDF) (in Spanish). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 9, 2013.
  32. "Izquierda Unida" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on December 20, 2009.
  33. "Pú – Lara y Anguita encabezan la lucha por la III República" (in Spanish).
  34. "Equo website" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on November 5, 2014.
  35. Article 168 states:
    1. If a total revision of the Constitution is proposed, or a partial revision thereof, affecting the Preliminary Part, Chapter II, Division 1 of Part I; or Part II, the principle of the proposed reform shall be approved by a two-thirds majority of the members of each House, and the Cortes Generales shall immediately be dissolved.
    2. The Houses elected thereupon must ratify the decision and proceed to examine the new constitutional text, which must be passed by a two-thirds majority of the members of each House.
    3. Once the amendment has been passed by the Cortes Generales, it shall be submitted to ratification by referendum.
  36. The steps to hold a referendum on the republic, El Mundo 27 June 2014