Popular Front (Spain)
The Popular Front in Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

's Second Republic was an electoral coalition
A coalition is a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, joining forces together for a common cause. This alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience. A coalition thus differs from a more formal covenant...

 and pact signed in January 1936 by various left-wing political
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 organisations, instigated by Manuel Azaña
Manuel Azaña
Manuel Azaña Díaz was a Spanish politician. He was the first Prime Minister of the Second Spanish Republic , and later served again as Prime Minister , and then as the second and last President of the Republic . The Spanish Civil War broke out while he was President...

 for the purpose of contesting that year's election
Spanish general election, 1936
Legislative elections were held in Spain on February 16, 1936. At stake were all 473 seats in the unicameral Cortes Generales. The winners of the 1936 elections were the Popular Front, a left-wing coalition of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party , Republican Left , Esquerra Republicana de...


The Popular Front included the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party is a social-democratic political party in Spain. Its political position is Centre-left. The PSOE is the former ruling party of Spain, until beaten in the elections of November 2011 and the second oldest, exceeded only by the Partido Carlista, founded in...

 (PSOE), Communist Party of Spain (PCE), the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification
Workers' Party of Marxist Unification
The Workers' Party of Marxist Unification was a Spanish communist political party formed during the Second Republic and mainly active around the Spanish Civil War...

 (POUM, independent communist) and the republicans: Republican Left (IR), (led by Azaña) and Republican Union Party
Republican Union Party
The Republican Union was a Spanish republican party founded in 1934 by Diego Martinez Barrio.It was formed as a result of a merger of several small republican parties, including notably Diego Martinez Barrio's Radical Democratic Party founded in May 1934 by a split from Alejandro Lerroux's Radical...

 (UR), led by Diego Martínez Barrio
Diego Martínez Barrio
Diego Martínez y Barrio was a Spanish politician during the Second Spanish Republic, Prime Minister of Spain between 9 October 1933 and 26 December 1933 and was briefly appointed again by Manuel Azaña after the resignation of Santiago Casares Quiroga, on July 19, 1936 - three days after the...

. This pact was supported by Galician
Galician nationalism
Galician nationalism is a political movement arguing for the recognition of Galicia as a nation. The political movement referred to as modern Galician nationalism was born at the beginning of the twentieth century from the idea of Galicianism.- Ideology :...

Partido Galeguista (1931)
The Partido Galeguista was a Galician nationalist party founded in December 1931. It achieved notoriety during the time of the Spanish Second Republic...

) and Catalan
Catalan nationalism
Catalan nationalism or Catalanism , is a political movement advocating for either further political autonomy or full independence of Catalonia....

Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 (such as the Esquerra Party
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya
The Republican Left of Catalonia is a left wing Catalan independentist political party in Spain. It is also the main sponsor of the independence movement from France and Spain in the territories known among Catalan nationalists as Països Catalans...

), socialist union Workers' General Union (UGT), and the anarchist
Anarchism in Spain
Anarchism has historically gained more support and influence in Spain than anywhere else, especially before Francisco Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939....

 trade union, the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
The Confederación Nacional del Trabajo is a Spanish confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions affiliated with the International Workers Association . When working with the latter group it is also known as CNT-AIT...

 (CNT). Many anarchists who would later fight alongside Popular Front forces during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 did not support them in the election, urging abstention instead.

The Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

-controlled Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

 had decided in 1935 that, in response to the growth of Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

, popular front
Popular front
A popular front is a broad coalition of different political groupings, often made up of leftists and centrists. Being very broad, they can sometimes include centrist and liberal forces as well as socialist and communist groups...

s allying Communist parties with other anti-Fascist
Anti-fascism is the opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals, such as that of the resistance movements during World War II. The related term antifa derives from Antifaschismus, which is German for anti-fascism; it refers to individuals and groups on the left of the political...

 parties including Socialist and even bourgeois parties were advisable. In Spain, it was a coalition between leftist republicans and workers' organizations to defend social reforms of the first government (1931-1933) of the Second Spanish Republic, and liberate the prisoners, political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s according with the front propaganda, held since the Asturian October Revolution (1934).

The Popular Front defeated the National Front (a collection of right-wing
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 parties) and won the 1936 election, forming the new Spanish Government. Manuel Azaña was elected President of the Republic on May 1936, but the PSOE didn't join the government because of the opposition of Francisco Largo Caballero
Francisco Largo Caballero
Francisco Largo Caballero was a Spanish politician and trade unionist. He was one of the historic leaders of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and of the Workers' General Union...


In July 1936, Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 and other conservative
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

Monarchism is the advocacy of the establishment, preservation, or restoration of a monarchy as a form of government in a nation. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government out of principle, independent from the person, the Monarch.In this system, the Monarch may be the...

 generals instigated a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 which started the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 (1936-1939). The Government dissolved the army in the loyal territory and brought weapons to armed groups organized by the unions (UGT and CNT) and workers' parties (PSOE, PCE, POUM) that had initial success in defeating the Francoist forces in Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

, Bilbao
Bilbao ) is a Spanish municipality, capital of the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. With a population of 353,187 , it is the largest city of its autonomous community and the tenth largest in Spain...

 and Valencia. Ultimately though Franco would defeat the Popular Front forces and rule Spain as a dictatorship until he died in 1975.

Foundation and the manifesto of the Popular Front

The Popular Front was formed in 1936 by a coalition of left-wing republican parties. The Popular Front's founding manifesto
A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds. Manifestos may also be life stance-related.-Etymology:...

 condemned the actions of the conservative-led government, demanding the release of political prisoners detained after November 1933, the re-hiring of state employees who had been suspended, fired, or transferred "without due process or for reasons of political persecution", it proposed establishing an independent judiciary from government control, the investigation and prosecution of acts of unwarranted violence by police, and revision of the Law of Public Order to protect the rights of citizens against arbitrary power. The manifesto stressed political moderation against radicalism.

The manifesto advocated a moderate left-leaning economic policy that rejected the idea of nationalization of land and instead supported the provision of state economic assistance to agriculture, a new progressive tenancy law, and promotion of collective forms of production. It supported protectionist
Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

 measures to defend national industry, encouraged state research to assist national industry, promised protection of small businesses
Small business
A small business is a business that is privately owned and operated, with a small number of employees and relatively low volume of sales. Small businesses are normally privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships...

, major expansion of public works
Public works
Public works are a broad category of projects, financed and constructed by the government, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater community...

, and progressive tax reform. The manifesto declared the Popular Front's opposition to class-based society, stating "The Republic conceived of by the Republican parties is not a Republic dominated by social or economic class interests, but a regime of democratic liberty..." but it promised the restoration of certain economic policies of the 1931-33 Spanish government, including increased wages for farmworkers.

The manifesto promised the restoration of legislation guaranteeing regional autonomy that was revoked by the conservative-led government.

1936 Election and immediate aftermath

In the Spanish 1936 election, the Popular Front won the election with its leader Manuel Azaña
Manuel Azaña
Manuel Azaña Díaz was a Spanish politician. He was the first Prime Minister of the Second Spanish Republic , and later served again as Prime Minister , and then as the second and last President of the Republic . The Spanish Civil War broke out while he was President...

 elected President of Spain. The Popular Front received 4654116 votes compared to the opponent combined right-wing vote of 4503524 votes. It elected 278 deputies - 99 of which belonged to the Socialists (PSOE) - while the right-wing elected 124 deputies - 88 of which belonged to the CEDA. Many of the elected members of the Popular Front were professional persons and several of which were from wealthy backgrounds. People of various political backgrounds within the Popular Front were appointed to President Azaña's cabinet, such as Amós Salvador - an architect and wealthy landowner and José Alonso Mallol - a former Radical Socialist. Upon the election of the Popular Front, the Popular Front held a victory march in Madrid with over 250,000 supporters, with its Socialist and Communist party components marching in uniform in the thousands. The Popular Front immediately delivered its promise in its manifesto of rehiring workers fired for political reasons without due process and to reimburse them based on individual cases for wages lost to an extent of not less than thirty-nine days wages nor more than six months.

Azaña responded to the recent surge of acts of violence, arson, and vandalism by radical leftists
Far left
Far left, also known as the revolutionary left, radical left and extreme left are terms which refer to the highest degree of leftist positions among left-wing politics...

 against right-wing parties and Catholic Church institutions by denouncing these actions. Uncontrolled political violence continued through to March with the greatest disturbance taking place in Granada
Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea...

 where a violent act by right-wing political forces provoked a general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

 and mass riot by left-wing political forces there. In particular violence involving Communists and Socialists versus Falangists
The Spanish Phalanx of the Assemblies of the National Syndicalist Offensive , known simply as the Falange, is the name assigned to several political movements and parties dating from the 1930s, most particularly the original fascist movement in Spain. The word means phalanx formation in Spanish....

 resulted in multiple murders. By July there had been 269 political killings.

Azaña acceded to demands by left-wing movements for punishment of General López Ochea, the army leader of the 1934 Asturian campaign against workers' movements there. The Spanish government also made major changes to the Spanish army, pro-Republican or neutral commanders were installed in multiple posts while commanders with questionable loyalties involving support of the republic were moved to lesser or remote positions, such as General Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 being removed as chief of staff of the army and moved to a position in the Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 and General Emilio Mola
Emilio Mola
Emilio Mola y Vidal, 1st Duke of Mola, Grandee of Spain was a Spanish Nationalist commander during the Spanish Civil War. He is best-known for having coined the term "fifth column".-Early life:...

 being demoted from a major command in Spanish Morocco
Spanish Morocco
The Spanish protectorate of Morocco was the area of Morocco under colonial rule by the Spanish Empire, established by the Treaty of Fez in 1912 and ending in 1956, when both France and Spain recognized Moroccan independence.-Territorial borders:...

 to being commander of a brigade in Pamplona.

See also

  • Spanish Civil War chronology 1936
    Spanish Civil War chronology 1936
    The Spanish Civil War broke out with a military uprising in Morocco on July 17, triggered by events in Madrid. Within days, Spain was divided in two: a "Republican" or "Loyalist" Spain consisting of the Second Spanish Republic and a "Nationalist" Spain under the insurgent generals, and,...

  • Popular Front (France)
    Popular Front (France)
    The Popular Front was an alliance of left-wing movements, including the French Communist Party , the French Section of the Workers' International and the Radical and Socialist Party, during the interwar period...

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