Alcala Zamora and the Failure of the Spanish Republic, 1931-1936

By Stanley G. Payne

The Second Spanish Republic (1931-36) was the only new liberal democratic regime to emerge in Europe during the 1930s. Historians, however, have focused primarily on the Civil War of 1936-39 that followed, devoting much less attention to the parliamentary regime that preceded it. This book deals with the history and failure of the democratic polity in Spain through a detailed examination of the initiatives of its president, Niceto Alcal?-Zamora. By 1931, as a civil servant, a lawyer, a politician, and a writer, he had become one of the most successful men of Spain. He played the leading role in the downfall of the monarchy and the inauguration of the Republic, which he served for eight months as initial prime minister and then as the first president. Stanley Payne's study argues that the failure of the Republic was not inevitable, but depended on the policy choices of its president and the key party leaders. Alcal?-Zamora's professed goal was to "center the Republic," stabilizing the new regime while avoiding extremes, but he failed altogether in this project. The Constitution of 1931 stipulated the "double responsibility" of parliamentary government both to the president and to a voting majority. Though Alcal?-Zamora resisted strong efforts from the left to cancel the results of the first fully democratic elections in 1933, he subsequently used his powers recklessly, making and unmaking governments at will, refusing to permit the normal functioning of parliament. This first critical scholarly account of the presidency of Alcal?-Zamora casts new light on the failure of democracy in interwar Europe and on the origins of the Spanish Civil War. *** "Partly a political biography of Alcal? Zamora, president of the Republic from 1931 until his deposition in 1936, this is also a sharply critical analysis of the multiple failures of the Republic. Payne clearly details the dilemmas of a veteran political leader-a moderate, centrist figure faced with multiple and dangerous challenges and antagonists. The author readily allows that Zamora was a man of high ideals, yet his actions, too often flawed by manipulation and deception, undermined the Republic." Essential! --Choice, Vol. 55, No. 4, December 2017 (Series: Sussex Studies in Spanish History) [Subject: History, Spanish Studies, Politics, Biography]

Publication Date: 4/1/2017
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781845198589